For many people, spring has truly arrived only with that first taste of fresh-picked, sweet English peas. Their season is so lamentably short, it’s estimated that 95% of the world’s pea crop is either frozen or canned — so fresh peas truly are a special treat!
Though debate still rages, peas probably originated in Asia. Along with wheat and barley, peas are one of humanity’s oldest cultivated crops. English peas (so called because of the many varieties developed in England) are also known as garden or green peas. They’re members of the legume family; their thick pod contains a string of up to 8 small green seeds. Because they flourish only in cool, moist conditions, English peas are available for just a short time: late April, May, and perhaps through June in areas where spring comes late or there’s coastal fog.
How to select and store peas
Look for bright green, shiny and firm pods that squeak when you rub two together.
The sweetest, most tender peas will be the size of pearls, and they’ll fill their pod snugly without bulging. Avoid large, heavy pods that look swollen or crowded; the bigger the pea, the more starch it’s likely to have.
Once harvested, peas are unforgiving — so to fully enjoy their sweet succulence, try to eat them just after they’ve been picked. If you must store them, English peas will maintain most of their sweetness for up to 3 days if stored in a closed brown bag or a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Tips for using peas
Unlike sugar snap and snow peas, English pea pods are tough and stringy, so they must be shelled before being cooked or eaten — preferably just before using. Pinch off the stem with your fingers and pull the string downward along the length of the pod. The pods will pop open with a gentle squeeze, and you can push out the peas with your thumb. Discard the pods or add them to vegetable stock.
English peas can be eaten raw (they’re irresistible!) or briefly blanched, braised or stir-fried to preserve their delicate sweetness and bright color. As a general rule, one pound of English peas (pods) will yield one cup of shelled peas.
Why choose organic?
Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural pesticides and fertilizers out of your food. Organic produce is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think it tastes better, too!