Peas to meet you! OK, bad pun but people have been making jokes about us for so long that it rubs off. We can’t help it if our name sounds like one of your bodily functions - you know, nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. I bet you’ve made cracks about us in the playground at some time or another, but we don’t really mind. We’re fun loving food. Let me tell you more about us.
We grow on a climbing plant which produces pods containing seeds or peas (that’s us). We’re sold in the pod and either eaten whole (pod and peas), or we’re removed from the inedible pod before eating (shelled peas).
Our pods are about 5-8cm long and 1-1.5cm wide, bright green, cylindrical and boat-shaped, with a small point at one end. We lie inside and are small, smooth, bead-like green seeds, about 1cm in diameter, arranged in a row, each of us attached to one seam of the pod.
Our pod splits down the top and bottom seams exposing us so we can be easily removed. In the edible-podded types our seeds are immature and softer than those which are shelled. The edible pods are often much flatter and have rounded bumps along the sides showing where each of us is located.
Did you know?
Why Peas Are Good To Eat
How Peas are Grown and Harvested
Our parent plant is generally grown on supporting structures due to its weak stem - to help it climb it produces small, green, snake-like tendrils which twist around any support to assist in holding it upright.
We grow best in cool moist conditions and can be grown in most soil types as long as the drainage is good. We can take up to 5 months from sowing to maturity if planted as a winter crop (and grown inland) or up to 3 months if used as a summer crop and grown on the tablelands. We’re harvested when our pods are fully developed.
The harvesting of snow peas is a little different as they have to be picked when they reach the right size but before their seeds start to get too big. This means the farmer has to keep checking his crop about every 3 days.
How to Keep Peas
Prime Growing Areas
In these ancient times dried peas formed an essential part of the diet because they could be stored for long periods and provided protein during the famine months of winter. We spread along the trade routes to the East, being recorded in China and India between 1100 to 1600 years ago.
The Greeks and Romans loved us and many varieties were traded in the Trajan Market in ancient Rome. The Romans probably took us to Britain and, as a result, King John II of England in the Middle Ages ate so many he is reported to have died from overeating. However, we didn’t become popular in England until the 16th century.
Both dwarf and field peas were part of the cargo of the First Fleet to Australia in 1788 and, on arrival at Sydney Cove, each convict and marine was given a weekly ration of three pints of ‘pease’. We were grown on Norfolk Island and at Sydney Cove, and we did better than beans in these places. By 1802 we were growing in Port Jackson and Parramatta gardens.
Fun Ways to Eat and Cook Peas
We’re normally cooked but can be enjoyed raw, especially in salads or while we’re being shelled! Boil or microwave until just tender, 4-8 minutes, depending on quantity. We will become less tender if overcooked. Serve us as a vegetable or add us to other vegetables, soups and casseroles.
Here are a couple of ideas for something different:
French Omelette With Peas
Green Pea Soup
Potatoes Stuffed With Peas And Bacon
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