A sweet pea that is a cross between a snow pea and an English pea. It is entirely edible (pod included) and available year-round. Best eaten raw, but may be cooked briefly in order to retain their crispness.
Snap peas like all other peas are pod fruits. An edible-podded pea is similar to a garden, or English, pea, but the pod is less fibrous, and edible when young. Pods of the edible-podded pea, including snap peas, do not have a membrane and do not open when ripe. At maturity, the pods grow to around 4-8 cm in length, Pods contain three to five peas per pod.
Selecting and Buying
When you see that the pods are filling out you can harvest the sugar snap peas. This will happen about eight to ten days after pollination. A good way to harvest the peas is to break them from the stem, being careful not to injure the plant they come from. This variety can be harvested in two to five picks in total and the pod will still be tender even if the pod is fully developed and like normal garden peas in appearance. Snow snap peas are much different though. The pods must be completely flat without any development of the seeds for the best result. At this stage the snow peas contain no cross-fibers and the entire pod can be eaten. If you let the snow snap peas develop past this size the peas have to be extracted and the pods discarded. Only pick the large flat peas and let the other once mature for a longer time. Harvesting should be done every two or three days for the best results.
Preparation and Use
In the raw, with a dip of 1 cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup crumbled feta, and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black peppercorns.
2. In succotash, sauteed with freshly cut corn kernels (scrape the milk from the cob to make it creamy), scallions, and cherry tomatoes.
3. Blanched and tossed with buttered egg noodles, parsley, and garlic.
4. Roasted with olive oil and sea salt beneath the broiler until crisp-tender and lightly browned on the edges; drizzle with a few drops of toasted sesame oil before serving.
5. Tossed warm with fresh pesto and toasted pine nuts.
Conserving and Storing
Fresh snap peas are both amazingly healthy and taste much better when grown in your own garden. The snap peas are different from regular peas in that their pods, along with the peas, can be eaten, similar with the snow and sugar peas. Peas grow best during cold weather, moist growing conditions. Any temperature above 30 degrees Celsius will not be very good to the pod set since the pollen in the flower will die at that high temperature and there will be much lower yields. Temperatures of about 7 to 24 degrees Celsius would be the best for the snap peas. Peas like sunny locations so make sure they get some sun most of the day.