Table of content A-Z

 

pea

 

Synonyms: garden pea, snow pea

botanical name: Pisum sativum

family: Fabaceae


Erbse (frisch)

 

Peas are the seeds of the pea plant that grow in pods. They are therefore often called legumes or pulses, but this term is not exactly correct, as only the fully ripened, dried seeds are sold as pulses in the narrow sense of the word.

 

Fresh peas are harvested prior to maturity and eaten with or without the pods as a vegetable. They belong to the "fruit vegetable" family.

 

The exact origin of this vetch-like legume cannot be established with certainty. It probably stems from a wild type that grows from the eastern Mediterranean to the Near East.

 

The pea is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables. It is said to have been in Burma (Thailand) as early as 9000 b.c. It did not come to Central Europe until the 9th-10th century. Up to mediaeval times peas were known only in dried form, i.e. as pulses. Not until the 15th century did people discover that the fresh, green seeds were also edible.

 

Today peas are grown in almost all countries of the world. The main growing areas are Europe, the USA and India; in Europe they are cultivated chiefly in Great Britain, France and Italy.

 

In addition to a small harvest in Germany we import fresh peas particularly from Italy and the Netherlands. In Germany, snow peas are traditionally grown in the vicinity of Trier.

 

Availability

Fresh green peas can be purchased from March until October. From about May until August domestic products are available, with the greatest supply found in July and August.

 

Appearance, taste, characteristics

There are about 250 varieties of pea worldwide, and they differ in size, shape and colour. They are classified into three groups:

 

1) Round peas (also called shell peas, split peas; Pisum sativum ssp. sativum convar. sativum)

- small, round peas in hard-shelled pods

- green or yellow

- mealy taste

- harvested early as small, green peas

- Only the seeds are eaten.

- Also suitable for making dried peas.

 

2) Wrinkled peas (Pisum sativum ssp. sativum convar. medullare)

- wrinkled, angular

- sweet taste

- more tender than round peas

- green or yellow

- Only the seeds are eaten.

- the peas predominantly used in Germany

 

3) ZuckerschotenSnow peas (mangetout; Pisum sativum ssp. sativum convar. axiphium)

- thick and pulpy sweet pod is eaten.

- no inedible parchment-like skin inside the pod

- high sugar content

- minimally developed green seeds

 

The term "shell pea" is sometimes also used to express the fact that the pea has an inedible pod and must be shelled before it is consumed. It is not the name of a variety.

 

When round peas or wrinkled peas are processed industrially in tins or frozen, the seeds are sorted according to size and divided into categories. The smallest and most tender peas are sold as "extra fine"; then come "very fine" (petits pois), "fine", "medium fine" and "large". Other classification systems include colour and quality and use letters and numbers. The category must appear on every tin of peas or every package of frozen peas.

 

Ingredients

Peas are very rich in fibre and contain large amounts of high-quality protein and carbohydrates. They have more calories than other legumes but are low in fat.

 

Moreover, they supply the vitamins B1, niacin and folic acid. The content of secondary plant substances in peas should also be mentioned, especially phytoestrogens, saponines and protease inhibitors.

100 g contain:

 

 

Green peas, cooked

Green peas, tinned

Peas, uncooked, dried

Snow peas with seeds, uncooked

Snow peas, cooked

Energy (kcal)

84

70

2711

81

65

Water (g)

74

77

11

75

78

Protein (g)

7

6

22.91

7

4

Fat (g)

<1

<1

1.4

<1

<1

Carbohydrates (g)

13

10

41.21

12.3

11

Fibre (g)

5

5

16.61

4

5

Vitamin A (RE) (µg)

74

58

13

72

67

Vitamin E (mg)

0.3

0.3

 

2

0.5

Vitamin B1 (mg)

0.2

0.1

0.8

0.3

0.2

Vitamin B2 (mg)

0.1

0.1

0.3

0.2

0.2

Niacin (mg)

2.9

2.2

2.8

2.4

3.4

Vitamin B6 (mg)

0.1

0.1

0.1

0.2

0.2

Folic acid (µg)

19

52

1511

159

25

Vitamin C (mg)

16

6

1.6

25

22

Potassium (mg)

259

1483

9411

274

326

Sodium (mg)

2

1856

26

2

4

Calcium (mg)

27

29

50

26

22

Phosphorus (mg)

110

94

3751

113

87

Magnesium (mg)

34

27

1181

34

33

Iron (mg)

1.8

1.2

5

1.7

2.2

Note: As this is a natural product, and as the information is taken from various sources and therefore from different analyses, there may be fluctuations in the nutritional facts. The minerals in particular may fluctuate, since the plant takes these from the soil, the composition of which itself can vary. Its mineral content is influenced, for instance, by fertilization. The footnotes are explained here .

 

Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Take care to buy peas that have smooth pods that are free of yellow stains or spots. They should look crisp and (with the exception of snow peas) well-filled.

 

Peas should be bought as fresh as possible and eaten just as fresh, because during long storage the sugar is converted to starch and the peas quickly lose their flavour and become firm or even hard. Snow peas should also be eaten soon after they are bought.

 

Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Fresh peas account for only a small share of those sold. The bulk is processed industrially in tins or deep-frozen. In contrast to other countries, wrinkled peas are preferred for tinning in Germany.

 

Contrary to beans, peas may be eaten raw, although this is not common. Cooked peas are popular as a vegetable dish or in soups, salads or risotto. Only snow peas are eaten with their pods.

 

Seasoning tip

In addition to salt, sugar is frequently added to the cooking water. With some lemon juice the peas remain green longer.

 

Miscellaneous

The asparagus pea (Tetragonolobus purpureus) is a special variety with almost quadrangular, light green pods. These are harvested young, before the seeds become hard and lose their excellent, asparagus-like flavour. It is also known as winged pea. This is because of four elongated eversions on the edge of the pod that look like wings. The asparagus pea does not belong to the garden pea family (Pisum sativum).

 

 

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