A perfect snap pea is plump and bright green, and it gives a sharp “snap” when folded in half. Snap peas were developed back in the 17th century by crossing a regular garden pea with a flat snow pea, but they did not become common in the U.S. until the 1970s. Now California is a huge snap pea producer.
Guess what food has more protein than a whole egg or one tablespoon of peanut butter? That’s right—just a little over a cup of snap peas wins the competition! Snap peas are also rich in iron and vitamin C, which are both good for your immune system. Peas also contain lutein, which helps eye health, reducing the risk of macular degeneration and cataracts. In addition, fresh pea pods are an excellent source of folic acid.
Snap peas grow on vines, which must be supported since they reach 4-feet high. When the pods are ripe, they are nearly 3 inches long. For best flavor, you’ll want full-size pods, but be careful to not let them over-mature or start to dry out. You can even eat the snap pea blossoms and tender plant tips! When purchasing snap peas at the grocery store, look for firm pods with a slightly velvet surface. They should look almost like they are bursting. Avoid limp pods.
Tiny fibrous “strings” line the edge of a snap pea. When the peas are young, it’s fine to ignore these strings and simply eat the peas, string and all. More mature peas usually require “de-stringing” to remove the tough fiber before eating. Watch your cooking time with snap peas—simmer only 2-3 minutes. Any longer, and the pods will become mushy and flavorless.
Watch this video and learn how to remove snap pea strings!
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