Friday, June 18, 2010

Tender Peas and Snappy Pod

Strawberries aren’t the only sweet seasonal food that you can find at the market and farmers markets right now. Cherries and apricots have their short space of springtime ripeness. Sugar snap peas are starting to show up, too.

Why eat sugar snap peas? These crunchy green delights are practically non-fat, have no cholesterol, lots of fiber, are very low in sodium and very high in iron, thiamin, vitamin A & C and high in vitamin B6, manganese, magnesium, pantothenic acid, phosphorus and potassium. Beyond that they taste so good!

Sugar snap peas are easy to grow, too. This spring I grew some for the first time and I chose a variety that doesn’t climb too tall. Unfortunately I gave the seed packet to my sister-in-law so she could grow some, too, so I don’t have the name…something with ‘gray’ in it I think. Peas of all sorts are heavy feeders, so be sure to fertilize them regularly. I use Miracle Grow crystals which I mix into gallon water bottles. Our cool, damp spring also likely helped since most peas prefer cooler weather to hot days. That’s why they have a shorter season, being at their absolute best in the Spring.

Pick the pods once they have started to form peas inside the pod. If you pick them early they are like snow peas and if picked later when they are mature, you can open them up and remove just the peas like English peas. In between is the way that sugar snap peas are usually grown and harvested for market. The pods are snappy crisp but still supple enough to eat raw and the peas inside are still tiny and tender.

These are great eaten raw, out of hand, for a snack, or dipped in something like the roasted garlic bean dip or some ranch dressing. For a nice side dish, lightly steam and add a small amount of butter which can be stirred in to just lightly coat the pea pods. They are also wonderful in stir-frys, great in salads, adding a wonderful crunch and ‘green’ taste, and you can use them in any recipe calling for snow peas if they are still in their very young and tender stage.

There is no recipe in this post because fresh goodies like this need only the lightest of preparations. Last night I served a pint of them, just picked, lightly steamed and buttered. Before I steamed them I removed the stem end and the string along the top of the pea. The flavor of fresh peas, including these wonderful, crunchy sugar snap peas, just says ‘Spring’ to me. Try them while the season is right.


  1. I love this time of year with so much fresh produce avaliable. The peas look cute nestled in their green pods

  2. These are just the best snack! They have all the crunch of a chip ... so I can pretend.

  3. I fry them, briefly, just to get them hot, in butter and olive oil, and finish with salt and pepper...
    I love simple vegetables like this!
    And love your first photo...

  4. Those look really good.
    I will try to find them at the market.

  5. Wonderful post...Fresh veggies are a love of mine. Beautiful photos and lovely site:)

  6. The best added crunch to any fresh salad. I'm so hooked on these paired with heirloom tomatoes and feta