Varieties of small round legumes that are typically classified as fresh, field or pod peas. The fresh pea is a small, round green vegetable, which is grown in a pod and is generally harvested in the early summer. The fresh pea is grown to be removed from the pod and eaten raw or cooked. Field peas, unlike fresh peas, are grown to be dried and then split or used whole for use in purées, soups and food dishes requiring thickening. Pod peas, such as the snow or sugar snap pea are grown to be eaten with both the pod and the pea together, either raw as a fresh pea or cooked.
Peas can be eaten raw or cooked, which sweetens them slightly. Peas are eaten on their own as a vegetable dish or added to other vegetables, salads, stir-fries, savory dishes, soups, and stews. Peas can be used as a substitution in most recipes that call for green beans.
At Their Best:
Fresh peas may be found in the markets in the spring, but may be hard to find because they do not retain their freshness for very long. Snow peas are available throughout the year in supermarkets, produce markets, and Oriental markets. Sugar snap peas are available spring to fall.
Frozen, canned, and dried peas are available year-round.
How to Buy:
Fresh peas: Select peas with smooth, bright green pods that contain a good number of seeds that are small in size.
Pod peas: Select peas with bright green, crisp pods that are not damaged, soft or shriveled. Snow peas should have flat pods with tiny seeds that are barely visible. Sugar snap peas should have mature seeds that are large enough to make the pod appear bumpy.
About different peas
The fresh pea is a small, round green vegetable, which is grown in a pod and is generally harvested in the early summer. Also known by other names such as sweet pea, green pea, garden pea, or English pea, the fresh pea is grown to be removed from the pod and eaten raw or used as an ingredient to be added to salads, soups, stews, casseroles, and other dishes. Fresh peas are available as a raw podded pea, canned as a shelled pea and frozen.
Field peas differ from fresh peas in that they are grown to produce a dry shelled product that is used for human consumption. They are also used as food for livestock. Varieties of the field pea include the green and yellow pea (either split or whole), the black-eyed pea, and the chickpea.