When you catch sight of the emerald peas, you may wonder, are they snap or snow? Let the great boxer Sugar Ray Robinson lead you to the decision ring with some mnemonics to help you remember the difference. Unlike other contenders, such as the English pea, you can chomp the pods of your snaps (aka, sugar snaps) and snows, raw or cooked. In this corner: snaps—pods so chubby with peas they look like the pods will “unsnap.” In the other corner: snow peas—flat, and that’s that.
Sugar Ray Robinson was known as “the best pound-for-pound boxer.” All varieties of peas (whatever weight class they fall under) are some of the best food values per pound. The whole pod contains a good amount of protein—3.7 grams per ½ cup—and only 55 calories. Green peas also provide very high quantities of vitamins K, C, A, B1, B2, B3, B6, and seven minerals. Green peas are super-charged with nutrition. April, May, and June are prime fresh-pea time, so enjoy.
Snap peas are eaten whole. There are strings along the pod, which can be removed or not, according to taste. If the little calyx, or cap, is still attached, that should be removed.
Preparation: To prepare fresh peas, remember this simple adage: “Season simply, cook briefly.” Immerse the pods in boiling water for three minutes, then dunk them in ice water to keep their nice brightgreen color before adding to stir-fries or salads. Another option is to gently sauté in olive oil or butter and herbs. Over-cooking results in limp pods that come apart. Always cook with a light touch for a knockout dish.
Storage: Snap peas will keep in the crisper drawer in a paper bag for up to a couple of weeks (in plastic, use within 3 or so days).
- Heidi Lewis