The garden pea is the most popular variety in Britain. The peas grow within long slender pods, and most are shelled and frozen within a few hours of picking, though fresh peas in the pod or shelled peas are also available. Petit pois are smaller, while Sugar snap and mangetout peas both have edible pods. The mangetout is flat with an almost rubbery texture; the sugar snap has a more rounded pod and plumper peas.
Fresh peas are at their best from May to November.
Peas deteriorate within hours of picking so choose plump firm and unwrinkled pods. Shelled peas should be bright green and look succulent; the smaller the pea, the sweeter it will tend to be. Sugar snap and mangetout should be bright green and firm; avoid any that are limp or soft.
To open a pea pod, press down along the pod with your thumb and slide out the peas. Peas can be eaten raw. To cook, boil briefly in boiling water for 4-5 minutes; you could a pinch of sugar and a couple of mint leaves for additional flavour. Frozen peas just need immersing in boiling water or 2-3 minutes. Both mangetout and sugar snap peas can be eaten raw, steamed or stir-fried for a few seconds, or can be sautéd in melted butter. Peas are great added to a risotto recipe.
Fresh peas are best eaten on the day of purchase.
Read our blog all about peas.