Vegetable of the Month: Peas
Peas have been used in the dry form since ancient times, and archaeologists
found them in Egyptian tombs. It was not until the sixteenth century that more
tender varieties were developed and eaten fresh. Today only about 5% of all
peas grown are sold fresh. More than half of all peas sold are canned and most
of the rest are frozen.
|Serving size 1/2 cup (frozen cooked)|
|Calories from Fat < 1g|
|Amounts Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Total Fat 0.2g||0%|
|Â Â Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 12g||4%|
|Â Â Dietary Fiber 4g||14%|
|* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.|
Green peas are actually a member of the legume family. This family includes
plants that bear pods enclosing fleshy seeds. Green peas do not require the
long cooking times that are required by dried legumes such as split peas and
pinto beans. Peas are a good low calorie source of protein. A 100-calorie
serving of peas (about 3/4 cup) contains more protein than a whole egg or a
tablespoon of peanut butter and has less than one gram of fat and no
Choosing the Best Peas
Fresh green peas should be refrigerated. Half of their sugar content will
turn to starch within six hours if they are kept at room temperature. Low
temperatures also preserve their texture and nutrient content. Look for pods
that are firm, have glossy pods with a slightly velvety feel, filled to appear
almost bursting, and peas should not rattle loosely in the pod. Pods should not
be dull, yellowed, or heavily speckled.
Snow peas should be shiny and flat, with very small peas that are barely
visible through the pod. Smaller pods are the sweetest and the most tender.
Sugar snap peas should be bright green, plump, and firm.
Storing Peas for Freshness
It is best to serve all types of fresh peas the day they are purchased. If
they must be stored, place them in a perforated plastic bag in the
refrigerator. Do not wash them before they are stored. Shell green peas right
before you cook them.
Preparing Peas to Eat
Rinse peas before shelling them. To shell peas, pinch the stem off with your
fingernails and pull the string down the length of the pod. The pod will pop
open and the peas can be pushed out of the pod with your thumb. When finished,
wash all peas.
Rinse snow peas and sugar snap peas before use. To trim snow peas, cut the
tips from both ends of the pod. This can be done with kitchen shears. Sugar
snap peas need to have the strings removed before eaten cooked or raw. The
string runs around both sides of the sugar snap pod. It is easiest to start
from the bottom tip and pull the string up the front, and then snap the stem
off and pull the string down the back of the pod.