Snow Peas, Edible Podded Peas, and Sugar Snaps
Description - The pods of snow peas are flat and thin with the bulge of the tiny seed barely visible at prime eating stage. The bright green pods should be turgid and crisp. They contain five to seven seeds and reach a length of two to three inches. The pods of sugar snaps are plump like regular English peas but are sweet and tender, thus eaten whole without being shelled, eaten raw or cooked. The vigorous growing vine is a legume.
Culture - Plant six to eight weeks before the last expected spring killing frost. Peas grow best in well-drained sandy soil. Plant seed in single rows about one inch deep with seed spaced about five inches apart. Trellis the plants to support the vines and keep pods from touching the soil. Maintain good soil moisture during bloom, pod set and pod fill for tenderest, sweetest pods.
Availability - Edible podded peas are not grown commercially in Texas because hot and windy conditions in spring cause inconsistent quality in open fields of vegetable farms. Most of peas found in Texas markets are from California.
Selection - Purchase smooth, thin, crisp pods of snow peas with little or no seed enlargement. Fresh pods are turgid and shiny, not wilted. Sugar snap pods are at best when crisp, tender, plump but with little or no string along the suture (top of pod leading to the little point). Wilted or tough pods will not be sweet and crisp inside.
Storage - Edible podded peas can be stored for up to two weeks in a refrigerator at 40 degrees. F. Wash, drain and place pods in plastic bags before refrigerating them.
Nutrition Information - Snow peas provide vitamins A and C, iron and potassium. They are low in sodium. A 3 ounce serving, cooked and drained, contains 43 calories.
Preparation - Slice through the stem end of each pod but do not sever the string on the side of the pod. Pull the stem end and string down the pod and repeat the procedure on the other side. You may leave the strings intact, if desired. Steam in a small amount of water or stir-fry in a little oil. Whichever method is preferred, keep cooking time short; one to two minutes is sufficient for heating through. Serve along or in combination with fresh mushrooms or water chestnuts, or in stir-fry recipes. Snow peas can be served raw in salads, but blanching them in boiling water for one minute brings out their vivid green color and heightens their crispness.
Microwave Instructions - Cut ends. Place pods in 9" pie plate with two tablespoons water. Cover with plastic wrap. Cook 1/4 lb. for two to four minutes on high.