Valley Bounty: Sugar Snap Peas

Sugar snap peas are a recent and widely successful addition to the pea family. Introduced in the late 70s, these plump, sweet edible pod peas are a top seller for some regional seed companies and an early summer treat. Mostly, I eat them raw, but I’m eager to try grilling them, then tossing with a thai-inspired dressing, chopped cilantro, and peanuts. Sugar snaps are also a great addition to salads featuring other early summer produce, like roasted baby beets or tender summer squash.

By Margaret Christie of Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).

Sources: CISA’s list of pea growers is here. Farmers’ markets and farmstands are a great place to find peas during their short season.

Maine’s cooperative seed company, FEDCO, often offers poetic, political, or opinionated varietal descriptions unlike those in most other seed catalogues. Here’s their tribute to sugar snaps and their breeder:

Always a top seller, this breakthrough variety was ten years in the making after breeder Lamborn made his first cross in 1969. Upon its release Sugarsnap was awarded the coveted AAS Gold Medal and later voted the #1 all-time AAS. Lamborn, at age 80, through his own seed company in Twin Falls, ID, is still breeding experimental snow and snap pea varieties of remarkable colors and marketing them to top chefs. His original is one of the very best raw treats in the garden, far tastier than the dwarf varieties, although more work to grow. Tall Sugarsnap vines climb 5–7′ and need strong stakes. Pods reach superb sweetness only when completely filled. Then they are incomparable. 

Recipes and More:

Here’s a nice write-up on sugar snap peas from the Awl. It’s followed by several recipes that I’m planning to try, including grilled peas with thai dressing and a pea and roasted beet salad.