The taste of fresh peas: a trace of sweetness, a nip of acidity, a dust of earthiness and the crunchy, green treasures inside. Their intensity of flavor is remarkable for the first few hours after harvesting.The best part of growing peas is snapping them right off the vine, with their fresh, sweet crunch as music in the mouth. Oh the joy of eating fresh pea pods!
Green peas are bursting with nutrients. They provide good to very good amounts of 8 vitamins, 7 minerals, dietary fiber and protein. Their supercharged nutritional profile can supercharge your health. Peas are filling and low calorie. 100 grams of green peas have only 84 calories of energy.
Men and women who eat peas at least four times a week have a 22% lower risk of coronary heart disease over 19 years than those who consume peas once weekly. The most enthusiastic peas eaters also have lower blood pressure and total cholesterol, and are less likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure and diabetes.
Researchers have found that proteins in common garden peas can help fight high blood pressure and chronic kidney disease (NutraIngredients.com March 24, 2009)
The folic acid and vitamin B6 in green peas are supportive of your cardiovascular health. The vitamin K featured in green peas is instrumental to the body’s healthy blood clotting ability.
Green peas provide nutrients that are important for maintaining bone health. They are a very good source of vitamin K, some of which our bodies convert into K2, the major non-collagen protein in bone.
Deciding what kind of peas to grow can be tricky, because peas come in three main types. I generally grow some of each kind, because I like them all.
* Garden peas, a.k.a. English or green peas, are the classics that you eat without the pod. I plant two kinds. I grow the small-seeded type, called petit pois, for eating fresh and freezing.
And I always have at least a few plants of dry, or soup, peas. I let them dry out on the vine, just like dry beans, and I cook them up in soups and casseroles.
* Snap peas are the new kinds in Vegetable Town. An Idaho plant breeder named Calvin Lamborn introduced the first one, “ Sugar Snap”, in 1979, and it became an overnight superstar. Snap peas are like two peas in one: tender, sweet garden peas inside crisp – and also sweet and edible – pods.
* Snow peas, a.k.a. Chinese or sugar peas, are the kind you get, pods and all, in Chinese restaurants.
Peas don’t have to be just a first-crack-of the-summer treat. Here’s one way to keep a steady supply coming in pretty much all season long:
- Plant an early crop as soon as the soil temperature hits 60 degrees F.
- About 3 weeks later, plant a different variety that’s heat-resistant.
- Eight to 10 weeks before the first frost, plant a crop for an early-fall harvest.
If you want to enjoy peas at their sweet, tender best, you need to pick them at just the right time. If they stay on the vine even a day or two past their peak, all the sugar inside will start turning to starch.Peas are like corn: The sooner you get them to the kitchen and start chowing down, the more reward you’ll have for all of your hard work in the garden.
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Yours truly, Polly – Organic Gardener