What are snow peas?
Quickly wok-fried with aromatics, garlic, ginger and chilli, sensational, crunchy, bright green snow peas add vibrancy to salads and stir-fries.
Peas are one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world. Dutch gardeners developed the snow pea, one of the main types of peas, in the 16th century. It was a hit in France, where eating exotic, fresh peas was embraced by the population.
Traders to Asia and Indian carried various types of peas to these countries and nowadays the snow pea is a popular addition to many Chinese dishes.
In Australia, snow peas are not sold by variety. Snow peas are a type of pea but, unlike the common green pea, they have a flat-shaped edible pod and very small seeds. Snow peas have thinner walls than other peas and this means that you can eat the whole pod.
Why snow peas are good to eat
- Snow peas are a good source of vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and K (important for helping your blood to clot).
- They are an excellent source of dietary fibre and contain folate.
- Snow peas also contain minerals such as potassium (which helps to regulate blood pressure), calcium and iron (important in the formation of red blood cells).
- Energy – 100 g of snow peas supplies 138 kJ.
How are they grown and harvested?
Snow pea plants prefer to grow in areas that are cool but not too cold. They also grow best in moist conditions, so regular watering is necessary.
Snow pea plants are climbers, so a pole or some other support is needed. Tendrils wrap around the support and help to keep the plant upright. The snow pea vine can grow to between 60 cm and 2 m, depending on the variety.
Snow pea plants are ready to harvest eight to 12 weeks after planting the seeds. The common pea is harvested when the pods are fully developed and begin to bulge, whereas snow peas are picked sooner, before the seeds start to become large. The snow pea pods are about 7 to 10 cm long at this stage.
Choosing snow peas
Choose snow peas that have bright green pods and are crisp. Young, small snow peas are more tender and tastier than larger pods. Avoid snow peas that are wilted or have visible damage such as dark spots or yellowing.
How to store and keep snow peas
Store snow peas in an airtight vegetable storage bag in the crisper section of your fridge. They will keep for a few days when stored in this way but should be used as soon as possible after buying them.
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