What are Sugar Snap Peas?
Sugar snap peas, also known as snap peas, are a variety of peas cultivated for their crisp exterior and sweet pea interior. Early varieties of the plant originated in Europe and Asia, though they eventually migrated to the US and have since become a beloved crop grown nationwide. This particular pea was cultivated in the 1970s as a perfect cross of snow and garden peas, with a refreshing blend of crunchy, and sweet. This legume lends a sweet and pleasantly “green” or vegetal flavor to dishes.
When are Sugar Snap Peas in Season?
Snap peas grow best in cooler environments with some moisture, meaning in the northeastern U.S., snap peas typically appear at farmers markets in late spring and early summer. Though usually not as abundant, these peas are also harvested in the fall, making them available around October as well. In slightly warmer parts of the U.S., snap peas are grown nearly year-round.
Can I Eat Snap Peas Raw?
Yes! Raw snap peas can be a delicious snack, especially when paired with a dip like hummus. They don’t have to be just snacks though – raw snap peas can shine in dishes like salads. Especially when raw, consider de-stringing them to remove the more fibrous string that can be tough to chew.
How to De-String Sugar Snap Peas
The younger the sugar snaps, the more delicate the string that run on either side of the pod. However, the strings should still be removed for the best eating experience; it’s a slightly annoying task, but if you have a friend and a cup of coffee, it’s goes by quickly! If you are serving snap peas to young children or people with chewing difficulties, this is an important step, as the strings can be hard to chew and swallow.
Rinse your sugar snap peas in cold water. Slice or snap off one of the tips of each pod and use that tip to pull the string down and off one side of the pod. Do the same with the other tip, pulling it down and removing the string from the other side of the pod. Repeat!
How to Cook Sugar Snap Peas: Everything you need to know about how to choose, store, de-string, clean, cook, and eat sugar snap peas!Tweet This
How to Choose the Freshest Sugar Snap Peas
To pick the best snap peas for eating raw or cooked, look for a vibrant green color and a firm, plump outer pod with as few blemishes or soft spots as possible. Snap peas tend to lose their appealing crispness and “snap” as they sit out and become tougher with time, so once you pick out a winning bunch, enjoy them fairly soon.
Avoid snap peas with blemishes, or that look dull or slightly mottled. You also should not buy peas that look dry and if you can hear loose peas rattling around in the shells, the pods are probably past their prime.
Are Sugar Snap Peas Nutritious?
Seriously nutritious! Very low in calories and fat and high in vitamin C, snap peas are a great vegetable to have on hand. They also provide fiber, which regulates digestion and helps you feel satiated. Given their low calorie content, they contain a decent amount of iron and potassium. Snap peas have only positive nutritional value and are a great component of a healthy diet.
Can I Eat Snap Peas Whole?
Snap peas are delicious whole. You can eat them as is after washing them, but for a slightly more elegant eating experience, consider removing their tough, fibrous string (see above). The pod should stay intact, and you’ll have a tender, whole snap pea!
How to Store Sugar Snap Peas
Snap peas are best the fresher they are. If you have to store them though, store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator in order to keep them at their freshest, and only wash them when you’re ready to eat or prepare them. They will keep like this for 3 to 5 days.
What Can I Substitute for Snap Peas?
If you can’t find snap peas, snow peas are a similar variety with a comparable flavor. This variety is flatter and slightly less sweet because of the smaller size of the peas inside the pod, but can be easily substituted. Alternatively, snap peas can sometimes be found frozen, making them a great addition to cooked dishes even when out of season. Skip frozen sugar snaps for raw preparations.
How to Use Sugar Snap Peas?
With fresh snap peas, use their texture to your advantage and stick with simple recipes like this sugar snap pea salad or vegetarian pasta salad.
With slightly older snap peas, try sautéing them or adding them to a stir fry where their bite isn’t a crucial component, like in this chicken, broccoli, and sugar snap pea stir fry or soy glazed sugar snap peas.