Why Peas are So Good:
Fresh green peas are packed with vitamin K, vitamin C, and the B vitamins. They are also an excellent source of fiber and contain almost 15% of the daily recommended amount of protein. Green peas are full of nutrients that provide antioxidants and reduce inflammation throughout your body. They are low in calories and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Research to connect green peas and a reduction of diseases such as heart disease and arthritis is sadly lacking, although scientists suspect that such a link does exist. Researchers have begun to establish a connection between eating green peas and a lowered risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Their high fiber and protein content make them perfect for regulating the rate at which your body digests food, helping blood sugar levels to remain stable.
Recent studies have shown that eating green peas can lower your risk of developing stomach cancer.
Green peas are good for you and good for the environment too! As they grow, green peas add nutrients back into the ground and act as a natural pesticide. Their shallow root system also prevents soil erosion.
Selection and Storage:
Choose the best pea for your recipe:
A majority of green peas are sold as canned or frozen. The color, texture, and flavor of frozen peas are closer to the color, texture, and flavor of fresh peas. Unfortunately, both frozen and canned peas can contain high amounts of sodium, so be sure to read the label and look for a brand that does not contain added sodium.
Rinsing your peas can help to remove some of this extra sodium. Sodium is added to the peas as a result of the preservation process and does not occur naturally in the peas. Frozen peas usually contain less sodium than canned.
Look for fresh peas with pods that feel firm, velvety, and smooth. Pods should be a vivid green color. The peas inside the pod should appear uniform in size. Shake the pea pods to be sure there is no empty room around the peas. If you hear rattling when you shake the pod, make a different selection.
Peas should be stored in the refrigerated area of the produce department.
When shopping for snow peas, smaller pods usually have a sweeter flavor. Snow pea pods should feel firm and plump with a uniform green color and be crisp when snapped.
Store your peas in the refrigerator to keep them fresh and tasting sweet. Peas that have not been washed and remain in the pod can last for several days in the refrigerator. To preserve your fresh peas, blanch them in boiling salted water and then freeze them. They will stay fresh in the freezer for 6-12 months.
Cleaning and Preparation:
Rinse garden peas and allow them to dry on paper towels. Remove the tips of of the pod with a knife and open the pod to remove the peas. A traditional way to cook peas from your garden is to place a layer clean leaves of Bibb lettuce around the bottom and sides of a saucepan. Gently place the shelled peas on the lettuce and season them to your taste. Place another layer of lettuce on top of the peas and add 2 Tbsp of water or broth. Put a lid on the pan and cook the peas for 15 minutes or until they are tender. Garden peas are also delicious when sauteed for 3 minutes in a hot pan with 3 Tbsp of broth or water.
If you are working with snow peas or sugar snap peas, rinse them carefully before eating, cooking, or adding to a salad. Sugar snap peas and snow peas are also delicious when added to stir-fry recipes.
A word about Dried Peas:
Dried split green peas are an inexpensive, low-fat source of high-quality protein and easy to store long-term. To prepare dried split peas, be sure to remove any clumps of dirt, stones, and twigs. Rinse them carefully and then place 1 cup of split peas in a saucepan with three cups of water. Bring them to a boil and then reduce them to a simmer. Season and cook your split peas for about 30 minutes or until tender.
Sugar Snap Peas: