Even if you’ve never eaten peas, you’ve most certainly heard of them, since they’re the topic of many of our most familiar sayings and idioms. Peas have found their way out of their pods and into ordinary English as a measure of size, a comparison for resemblance, and a wonderful weather description for when that summer morning fog is all encompassing.
When you think about it, it’s no surprise that these small green globes are so commonthey’ve been a constant component of the human diet for the previous 10,000 years! The pea, on the other hand, has spread far since its inception, resulting in a wide range of fresh green pods known as peas.
Join us as we learn about the many varieties of peas (and pea imposters!) and answer some commonly asked pea questions.
- What Are Peas?
- The Three Main Types of Peas
- Other Types of Peas
- Pea FAQ’s
- Recapping the Different Types of Peas
- How many types of peas are there?
- What are the three major types of peas?
- What is the most common type of pea?
- What is the best peas to eat?
- What are regular peas called?
- What are the southern types of peas?
- What are the best peas to eat raw?
- Which peas are the sweetest?
- What is the difference between field peas and garden peas?
- What is the most expensive pea?
What Are Peas?
Peas (Pisum sativum) are legumes (Fabaceae), as are other essential food crops such as soybeans, kidney beans, and lentils. In contrast to these other legume cousins, peas are distinguished by the fact that we often eat the pods as well! Most legumes have stiff and fibrous pods that are not edible, but as we will see, certain species of peas are tasty and healthy, pod and all.
Where do Peas Come From?
The official origin story of the pea plant is a little unclear, probably because it has been around for so long! Wild ancestors of our present pea varieties may be found all throughout the Mediterranean, and archeological studies have shown evidence of peas reaching back to about 10,000 BCE!
On top of this basic data, peas have been found throughout history and throughout numerous civilizations, from being mentioned in Norse mythology to being buried beside Egyptian pharaohs. Regardless of where peas originated, the truth remains that humans have been eating them for a very long time.
How do Peas Grow?
Pea plants may grow as a shrub, compact and low to the ground, or as a vine, climbing up and over buildings and other plants, depending on the type. Pea plants are well-known for producing lovely blossoms in a variety of colors ranging from pink to white to violet.
Are Peas Fruit?
The pea plant will begin to produce pea pods from the base of each blossom when it has finished blooming. That’s correct, although pea pods are often thought of as a vegetable (because to their grassy taste and green hue), they are really a fruit, and the peas themselves are the fruit’s seeds. Each pod may contain a few or many of these separate seeds, depending on the cultivar.
Are Peas a Starch?
Sweet potatoes and winter squash are examples of fruits, whereas asparagus and bell peppers are examples of non-starchy vegetables. Peas are obviously starchy, albeit not in the same way as rice or wheat flour are. They are often thought to be a sort of starchy vegetable (despite the fact that you now know they are really fruits!) This implies they are less starchy than grains but much starchier than other vegetables. Some examples of starchy veggies
What precisely causes the scales to shift toward or away from starchy foods? Fiber, fiber, fiber! Starchy vegetables have a greater starch to fiber ratio, while non-starchy vegetables have much more fiber.
The Three Main Types of Peas
The pods and seeds known as peas are classified into three types. There are multiple distinct pea varieties within each grouping, each with its own set of features and growing preferences. To add to the confusion, both snow peas and sugar snap peas are classified as sugar peas, despite the fact that they are distinct from one another.
Garden peas and shelling peas are other names for English peas. Why is it called shelling? Because they must be shelled before they can be eaten! Since the pods of English peas are much too tough to eat, time must be spent splitting the pods apart, liberating the peas and making their nutrients available.
Shelling pea plants come in bush and pole forms, with climbing vines reaching six to eight feet in height. Peas like these will need the assistance of a trellis or a staking system to wrap their tendrils around and properly grow higher.
A single garden pea plant may produce a large number of individual pea pods over the growing season, depending on the type. In certain situations, the plants may yield dark green pods, yellow pods, or even purple pods! When torn open at the seam, each pod reveals a nearly flawless row of plump peas within, all of which are green regardless of the color of the outer pod. These peas have a relatively sweet flavor, with some types being quite sweet and others being more nutty.
Some Varieties of English Peas
- Peas, Lincoln
- Wando Peas’s
- Peas in the Spring
- Peas Survivor
- Shell Peas in Mist
- Sweet Peas in the Garden
Peas are often seen as a sign of spring, with their vivid green coloration and fresh flavor inspiring memories of longer days and sunny warm weather. Snow peas, on the other hand, march to the beat of their own drum and thrive in colder temperatures. They can even withstand frost and snow, giving rise to their name!
Snow pea plants, unlike garden pea plants, do not yield large peas. Rather, the peas within the snow pea pods remain fairly tiny. Fortunately for these petite, fragile peas, they are enclosed in a totally edible pod, so pea-sized is just acceptable in this situation! Snow peas are crisp and refreshing when eaten raw, but they also taste great when stir-fried or blanched and put into a salad.
Snow peas may be identified by their flat look, which creates a visible shadow of the tiny, spherical peas contained inside the pod. You may have heard them referred to as Chinese peas because of their popularity in Asian cuisines and the fact that they are supposed to have originated in that part of the world.
Snow peas come in a variety of cultivars, many of which have delightfully wintery names!
Some Varieties of Snow Peas
- Peas Avalanche
- Peas for Snowbirds
- Sugar Pods from Oregon
- Melting Sweet Peas in Mammoth Size
- Peas, Sugar Daddy
Sugar Snap Peas
Sugar snap pea pods seem a lot like English pea pods at first sight, but there is one important difference. Although English pea pods are narrow enough to show off the luscious peas within, sugar snap pea pods are thick and rounded, entirely concealing any presence of peas inside! Sugar snap peas, like snow peas, contain edible pods, so their thick pod walls are a nice treat.
Unlike snow peas, sugar snap peas thrive in warm weather, easily outlasting snow and English pea types far into the summer months. Several species of sugar snap peas are climbers that may reach heights of more than 6 feet, thus suitable structure is essential for supporting these plants as they expand.
With just one bite, you’ll find that sugar snap peas actually live up to their name, with a deliciously sweet flavor and juicy texture. Sugar snaps may be eaten raw or cooked in a variety of ways since they retain their crunch even after cooking.
Some Varieties of Sugar Snap Peas
- Peas, Sugar Ann
- Vice President of Super Sugar Snap
- Peas Sugar Bon
- Peas are quite witty.
Other Types of Peas
Thus far, we’ve discussed the several forms of real peas, which are members of the legume family and are classed as Pisum sativum. But what about the other items that have the same name?
Despite the titles may be misleading, if you take a look at any of the following counterfeit peas, you will most likely not confuse them for fresh, green peas anytime soon since their looks and applications are very different.
Let’s start with field peas, which come in a variety of types, including cowpeas, black eyed peas, crowder peas, purple hull peas, and Southern peas, to name a few. Although these legumes are occasionally consumed fresh, they are mostly dried and marketed like any other dry bean. Several species of field peas are used as animal feed in addition to being a high-quality food source for people.
Field peas are available in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Black eyed peas are the most easily identified, with their smooth beige surface and distinctive black patch at the seam, whereas purple hull peas grow in long, deep violet-colored pods. Field peas are very valuable because they may flourish in soil that is drier and less nutritious than that needed by the three forms of real peas.
Pigeon peas (Cajanus cajan) have the highest possibility of being fooled for fresh green peas of all of the impostor peas. Young pigeon peas resemble English peas in form and size, and they have a gorgeous brilliant green color and a nutty, faintly sweet taste. When left to grow and dry, they become light brown and speckled, acquiring a taste more akin to other dried beans.
Pigeon peas are popular in Indian, Caribbean, and South American cuisines, among others, since they thrive in damp, tropical environments. Unlike other legumes, which grow on bushes or climbing vines, the pigeon pea plant grows into a shrub-like tree that may reach heights of 12 feet!
Chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, are the lumpy but loving beige beans that are probably best recognized for their starring roles in Middle Eastern recipes such as hummus and falafel. While they are spherical like genuine peas, their form is quite different, and chickpeas are enormous in compared to green peas! While chickpeas are green in their fresh state, you have probably never encountered and will never meet chickpeas at this stage. Chickpeas are often sold dry and bagged, or pre-cooked and canned, ready to provide a creamy, pleasing texture to your next dish.
The sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus) is a variety of pea that is not edible, despite its misleading name. The sweet refers to the sugary perfume generated by the sweet pea plant’s blossoms, not the taste of the seed pods themselves. Sweet pea pods and seeds are harmful to people and dogs, so keep an eye out for this one. Nevertheless, there is some contradictory evidence that newborn sweet peas may be eaten if allowed to soak (which eliminates the toxins), but as the seed pods develop, the toxins become more concentrated in the peas themselves. What’s the bottom line? Appreciate sweet pea blooms but ignore their seed pods!
Don’t be concerned if your grocery store bag of frozen peas or farmers market pile of fresh peas has been labeled sweet peas. In these circumstances, the adjective sweet is often employed as a description, typically referring to smaller, sweeter peas as compared to bigger, more mature peas.
Can You Eat Other Parts of Pea Plants?
Pea plants, in addition to seeds, provide a variety of other delectable bits and nibbles. When placed in a salad, pea shoots, the small and sensitive immature stems of pea plants, are edible and appetizing. You may have also seen pea tendrils on meal dishes at your favorite eatery. These curled tips, which the pea plant produces as it develops, contain long thread-like strands that may wrap around neighboring objects and plants for increased support. Despite being farmed only for their pods and seeds,
You can even eat the pea leaves whole! Although elder pea leaves may be too rough or fibrous to eat fresh, sauté them gently. If you happen to have a bunch of young and fragile pea leaves on hand, you may put them immediately into a salad. All of these pea plant components have a flavor that is similar to fresh peas, although they are a little more vegetal and less sweet than genuine peas or pea pods.
Which Types of Peas Have Strings?
All three varieties of peas (English, snow, and sugar snap) have strings by nature, but you don’t need to bother about strings on English peas since you’ll be removing the whole pod anyway to get to the seeds within.
In the string section, that leaves snow peas and sugar snap peas to contend with. As botanical sciences have advanced, various stringless variants of these sorts of peas have been developed, although in some situations, the strings are still there and only happen to be less stringy, whilst in others, they are completely absent.
How to String a Pea Pod
Have you ever gotten a crop of stringy snow or sugar snap peas? Not to worry! Eliminating the strings is a simple yet time-consuming procedure.
Grab the stem end of the pod with the tips of your thumb and index finger. Some pods will still have a stem or a portion of a stem attached, but others may have been snapped off during harvest.
Snap the stem (or a little part of the stem end) off the tip of the pod with your fingers in a quick movement. In most situations, the fractured piece you’re clutching is still linked to the pod by a stringy thread.
Pull the thread downwards along the seam and towards the opposite end of the pod with the broken stem. Hopefully, the whole string will fall out in one piece! If you break the string halfway through, don’t panic; you can simply use a paring knife to cut the thread back to where you left off.
Have fun with your string-free snow or sugar snap pea! To make things simpler, thread your whole batch of peas the day you bring them home from the shop or market. This way, your peas will be ready for munching or cooking when you are!
Recapping the Different Types of Peas
It turns out that a pea is much more than meets the eye! There are just three varieties of real peas: English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas. English peas are the only variety that must be eaten outside of their pod. Snow peas and sugar snap peas are excellent when eaten pods and all, and the crisp pods provide additional fiber!
Sorry to call out the other peas, but you are imposters. Field peas, black eyed peas, pigeon peas, and chickpeas are all members of the legume family, although they are classified in whole other genera and have features more like to kidney beans and black beans.
Whichever peas you choose to eat this spring, we hope our handy guide to all the many sorts of peas has taught you a thing or two about them!
How many types of peas are there?
The Three Kind of Peas. Snap peas, snow peas, and shelling peas are the three varieties of peas, each suited to a particular method of preparation.
What are the three major types of peas?
There are three varieties of peas in Pisum sativum: English peas, snow peas, and sugar snap peas.
What is the most common type of pea?
Peas (Pisum sativum) are a popular home garden crop across the globe. The shelling pea, often known as the “garden pea” or “English pea,” is the most prevalent kind in American gardens. Snow peas and sugar snap peas are examples of edible pea pods.
What is the best peas to eat?
Although snow peas and snap peas are finest fresh, garden peas may be found frozen at any time of year. These three peas are wonderful members of the legume family, but their texture and taste differ. Continue reading to learn more! Snow peas and snap peas both feature edible pods that may be eaten whole.
What are regular peas called?
Garden peas are sometimes known as sweet peas or English peas. The pods are solid and spherical, and the round peas within must be removed before eating (the pods are discarded). The peas are tasty and may be eaten raw or cooked; they are the most commonly marketed shelled and frozen peas.
What are the southern types of peas?
Cowpeas or Southern peas are common names, and varieties include Rattlesnake, Zipper, Stick Up, Shanty, Turkey Craw, Queen Anne, Polecat, Hercules, Colossus, Iron Clay, Washday, Crowder, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Mississippi Silver, and Big Red Ripper.
What are the best peas to eat raw?
Snap peas, commonly known as sugar snap peas, are a hybrid of snow peas and garden peas. The whole pod is consumed, and it has a crunchy texture and a highly sweet taste. Snap peas may be consumed either raw or cooked.
Which peas are the sweetest?
Flower of the Dwarf Grey Sugar Pea
Edible pod peas are very delicious. They are an excellent method to introduce youngsters to vegetable growing since the pea pods are typically as sweet as candy and can be eaten right from the plant.
What is the difference between field peas and garden peas?
Field pea is typically planted as a cover crop or for its smooth dried seeds, which are utilized as food or feed crops in dry locations. Garden peas are more often cultivated for fresh market consumption in New England. Garden peas have wrinkled ripe seeds and greater sugar and lower starch levels than field peas.
What is the most expensive pea?
Sweet pea (Pisum sativum L.), often called locally as “China pea,” “snow pea,” “garden pea,” or “sitsaro,” is one of the most costly vegetable legumes in the nation. It is cultivated for its tasty pods or seeds.