Ingredient Spotlight: Shelling Peas, Snow Peas, Snap Peas

Apr 4, 2013
Veronica Brandy

green peas pictures

Today we’ll be talking about peas. They are so widely available as frozen food that we almost forget that they are in season from end of spring / early summer to end of summer. There are 3 main varieties of peas, and we’ll be talking about them separately:

  • Shell Peas
  • Snow Peas ( aka Mange-Touts)
  • Sugar Snap Peas

Peas, which are a variety of legumes, come in a wide range of forms:

  • Shell peas, also known as green or English peas, which must be removed from their inedible shells or pods;
  • Pod peas, which are entirely edible (pods and all).
  • Field peas: nearly always shelled and dried, a bit like black-eyed peas and chickpeas.

Unfortunately there is rarely time for shelling peas nowadays, but fresh shelled peas have an unique fresh flavor. Snow and sugar snap peas, with their edible pods, have made shelling even less appealing, since these offer wonderful pea flavor with a lot less work — think you should remove their strings before cooking;.

Buying and storing

Fresh shell peas arrive in spring and should be firm, plump, unshriveled, and full of medium-size peas. Very large peas are likely to be tough and starchy. To make the produce is okay, open one up and taste a couple peas; if it’s all good, just buy them! Snow and snap peas should be crisp, green, and unshriveled. Again, you should taste one before buying. Store peas wrapped in plastic in the bottom of your refrigerator. Use them as soon as possible because their sweetness will fade away after few days. Frozen peas are a good substitute in most dishes, and you almost never need to defrost them first because of their small size.

Preparing

Open the pods of shell peas at the seam and run your finger down the inside to release the peas. For snow and snap peas, pinch the flower end of the pea pod and pull the string down toward the other end to remove it. Quite simple, isn’t it?

Best cooking methods

Steaming, quick-braising in butter, and stir- frying are among the best cooking methods. Peas are almost always a great addition to risotto and stir-fries.
As soon as they are hot and bright green, you know their are done. It takes usually less than 5 minutes.

Peas recipes

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