Whatever happened to the garden pea? Finding them in veggie shops is so rare these days. Yet the Chinese Snow Peas or Snap Peas (sometimes called Mange Tout) seem to have taken their place. Seems a pity really as the common Garden Pea is so sweet and tasty and we were always told they were full of goodness.
Well its one of the examples of how big business technology actually serves us better because 90% of all Garden Peas consumed today are frozen or canned. And this is simply because they are generally better this way, being blanched and flash frozen within a few hours of picking. The process really does lock in the flavour, texture, nutritional value and freshness – unlike any other vegetable.
Shipping them to veggie stores is therefore a very difficult operation with the distinct possibility that they’ll just not be at their best.
Then you have to shell them as the pods are bitter to taste and stringy in texture ! Not many of us want to do that.
Snow Peas – Pisum sativum macrocarpon – on the other hand have edible shells and can be popped into boiling water for the quickest preparation of any vegetable. They are sweet and tasty and also go very well in stir fries.
But the drawback is that they are lower in nutritional value. This doesn’t mean they are not good, just less good than the fuller shaped garden pea that has had more time to develop.
Snap Peas or Sugar Peas are a cross between the Garden Pea and Snow Peas are plumper in shape and have a crisp, snappy texture. The pods are also edible. Again though, they are lower in nutritional value and calories than Garden Peas.
So next time you scoff at a slick TV commercial claiming that Frozen Peas are better . . well Mr Birds Eye and Mr McCain have actually got it right this time. Unless of course you are patient enough to grow them yourself then you can have the best of both worlds.
What do you reckon? Is it worth the effort to grow them yourself?