The Pea (guisante) is probably the most popular and common vegetable. Pea pods are botanically fruit, as they contain seeds and developed from the ovary of a (Pea) flower. It is a cool season crop grown in many parts of the world.
The immature Peas are used as a vegetable, fresh, frozen or canned and mature split yellow Peas are the basis of Pease Porridge and Pea Soup. In the UK dried, rehydrated and mashed Marrowfat Peas, known as Mushy Peas, are popular, particularly in the north of England. Processed Peas are mature Peas which have been dried, soaked and then heat-treated to prevent spoilage. The most common way of buying Peas is frozen, but fresh garden Peas are in season from early June until late July. Petits Pois are young garden Peas that are picked and shelled when small, young and tender.
A Pea is a most commonly green, but they are occasionally purple or golden yellow. The plant grows thin tendrils from leaves that coil around any available support and can climb to 1–2mtrs high. Pea plants grow wild in the Mediterranean basin.A variety of diseases affect peas including insects, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Peas are starchy, but high in fibre and vitamins such as A, B6, C & K. Some people are allergic to peas and other lentils.
Green ‘garden’ Peas are eaten immature and fresh. They can be eaten as a complete vegetable or added to stir-fry dishes. Peas don’t need much preparation when they’re in season. Once shelled, Peas are usually boiled or steamed, which breaks down the cell walls and makes the taste sweeter and the nutrients more bioavailable. Boil them briefly until just tender, add a knob of butter and black pepper before serving with fish or boiled ham. Peas are also ideal eaten cold in pasta salad. They can be added to stir-fried dishes such as in Chinese cuisine and split Peas are used in Indian cuisine to make dhal. They can also be served with mint as a main vegetable dish.
Sugar Peas, or mange-tout, are Peas served and eaten as the whole immature pod.Pea pods do not keep well once picked, and if not used quickly, are best preserved by drying, canning or freezing within a few hours of harvest.
The annual ‘Peasenhall Pea Festival’ in the English village of Peasenhall, Suffolk attracts hundreds of visitors every year, with events such as Pea Shooting, the World Pea Podding Championships and National Pea Eating competition.