Eating the Whole Pea Plant.

Fresh peas shelled in the garden and popped into your mouth, mm…, mm… delicious. I love them raw in a salad; tucked into chicken pot pie; and frozen, steamed, and served with a dollop of butter and a sprinkling of salt. The one thing I don’t like is canned. That’s nasty!!

What I’ve now learned is that I’ve wa…y underestimated the pea plant. All this time I could have been eating it too. Did you know that you can eat the tendrils, the shoots, the flowers, and the peas and on snow peas and snap peas even the pods? The pods on garden peas can be boiled to make broth with. That leaves only the roots to toss. Pretty much the whole thing. I’ve just read that they have pea plants specifically bred to give you tasty long flowing tendrils. That’s the main menu. Then there is using the plants as microgreens in a cut and come again manner. You get 2 to 3 cuttings.

There are three main types of peas:

  • Garden or Shelling Peas (which ever you like to call them) are the traditional garden pea. The ones I’ve always grown. They usually have a slightly curved shape with a smooth texture and are vibrant green color. Yes, there are some yellow and purple varieties too. The pod is fibrous but the round peas inside are sweet and starchy.
  • Sugar Snap peas are flatter than garden peas with thinner edible pods. They are traditionally eaten when the peas have swelled inside and you then eat the pod and peas as one.
  • Snow peas have a thinner pod than a snow pea and the pods are flat. You don’t wait until the peas swell but munch on the crisp pods themselves.

Then there is another type of pea, the pole type that grows up to 6 feet tall. Need a vertical garden, they have a pea variety just for you.

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The garden pea variety my cousins say they never do grow because they don’t feel the harvest yield warrants the garden space. I disagree with them. Especially now that I’ve discovered just how much of the plant we can eat. Not only will we be growing garden peas but Sugar Snap peas too. I’ve never grown them and I’m probably counting my chickens before they hatch but I assume since they are cool weather crops they will love it here. Snow peas and snap peas with their greater sugar content have a tastier shoot, pod, and tendrils. See why I’m going to grow snow peas?

So this summer I’m going to try growing sugar snap peas and eat each part of the plant. Not too many flowers as that would lower the pea harvest but a few to see the difference between garden and snow pea. Do they taste like tender new alfalfa blossoms? Haven’t had them? Do. Pluck when they’ve just develop or opened then they taste like sweet peas. Older blossoms just give you a grassy flavor. It’s no wonder why the cows bust through the fence to get to the alfalfa fields. They like peas too, after all alfalfa is a legume.

The idea of sugar snap peas is quite appealing. I won’t be shelling for hours in front of the television watching a movie. Well, maybe that’s not so bad. The snap peas though would be easier, pick, blanch a minute and a half, and freeze. You’d get more out of your harvest too. Then I’ll let some snap peas and garden pea’s go to seed. Some to replant the next garden season for new pea plants and some I’m going to experiment with re-hydrating and cooking in soups, stir fries, etc. Will they have the canned pea flavor, or will they remind me of frozen peas? Maybe one of you could let me know especially if it is the canned pea one. I’d like to avoid that nasty flavor.

And if you watch the high end cooking shows like we do, you’ve probably thought about pea purees and pea pesto. I’ve really got to expand our horizons.

If nutrition motivates you, me too, green peas are a valuable source of protein, iron and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber helps to reduce serum cholesterol thus reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke. So eat those peas and don’t forget the plant!!!

If you’ve an interest in growing microgreens in your house or greenhouse then keep in mind that the pea shoots have plenty of nutritional value as well: vitamin A, C, and folic acid. It has seven times more vitamin C than blueberries, and boasts beta-carotenoids and antioxidants.

Do you now have pea dreams? I do!!

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Eating the Whole Pea Plant.

  1. Pea greens have been in markets here for quite a while, perhaps because so many are living where they lack garden space, and many others do not have time for gardening. The popularity started with those from Korea or China. Some of the kids I grew up with knew about peas in their parents’ Vietnamese cuisine.
    When you get to my age, pea dreams = bad.

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    1. We don’t have many from Korea or China in our area so maybe that is why shoots and tendril eating is foreign to me. As for pea dreams, I’m wondering if you are thinking pee dreams. I hate those. There is always so much we can learn from different parts of the country. I learned a new way of stacking wood. Probably been around for centuries but not the way most people do it around here.

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  2. Darla

    In my area, peas are a cool weather crop. They only grow from Nov-Feb. We use frozen peas in soups. or salads. If you put them in soup at the last minute, they are not as mushy.

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    1. Good to know. I can’t imagine growing food in November to February. What a different world from us you live in. We are suffering with lots of -40 F windchills. Can’t wait for warmer weather. Right now all I can do is plan and dream about gardening.

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