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dried garden pea


Botanical name: Pisum sativum

Erbse, getrocknet; Trockenspeiseerbse


Because the seeds of the pea plant mature in pods, they are often generally called pulses. The term is not quite correct, however, as only the matured, dried seeds, i.e. the dried peas, are sold in the strict sense as pulses.


In addition there are the fresh peas. These are the unripe seeds that are not dried but are eaten fresh, with or without their pods. They belong to the group of fruit vegetables. More can be found in the chapter on fresh peas.



The precise origin of this vetch-like pulse is not certain. Most probably it stems from a wild type that is found from the eastern Mediterranean region to the Middle East. It is among the oldest cultivated vegetables. It is believed that as early as 9000 b.c. there were peas in what is today Burma and Thailand. They did not reach central Europe until the 9th or 10th century a.d.


Peas are grown today in almost all countries of the world. The largest areas under cultivation are in Europe, the USA and India. In Europe peas are grown chiefly in Great Britain, France and Italy.




Dried peas can be purchased all year round.


Appearance, taste, characteristics


Worldwide there are approximately 250 different species of peas that vary in size, shape and colour. Only the round pea species Pisum sativum L. convar. sativum is suitable for making dried peas. These are small, round peas in hard-shelled pods.


There are yellow, green, grey and marbled, so-called raisin peas, and square types. Sorts with different cooking characteristics are sold, from soft and mushy to firm. Their flavour is slightly floury because they have a high starch content. Wrinkled peas (Pisum sativum L. convar. medullare Alef.) and snow peas (Pisum sativum L. convar. axiphium Alef.) are not suitable for producing dried peas. In East Friesland and the Netherlands grey peas or capuchin peas are considered a particular delicacy.


Dried peas can be bought shelled or unshelled. Prior to consumption they must be soaked for 8-12 hours and cooked for 60-90 minutes.


Peeling removes the outer covering of the seed. This makes the pea more digestible, because the covering is very hard. After they have been peeled, the dried peas are polished because they look dull and pale.


Split peas


gelbe und grüne SplittererbsenDuring peeling the peas can break into two parts. They are then called split peas and are sold separately according to colour (yellow split peas, green split peas). They have the same nutritional value as peeled whole peas.


Different sizes are offered commercially:

* small peas 4-5 mm

* normal-size peas, ca. 6 mm

*large peas more than 7 mm (also called "Victoria peas")

*extra-thick, coarse peas, ca. 7.5 mm




Like all pulses, peas are rich in protein and carbohydrates. By contrast, their fat content is small. The skins of peas above all contain considerable amounts of fibre, which provides for healthy intestinal activity. Peas have relatively large amounts of vitamin E, potassium, magnesium and iron. The content of secondary plant substances in peas should also be mentioned, especially phytoestrogens, saponines and protease inhibitors.


100 g contain:



Dried green peas, raw

Dried green peas, cooked

Energy (kcal)



Water (g)



Protein (g)



Fat (g)



Carbohydrates (g)



Fibre (g)



Vitamin A (RE) (µg)



Vitamin E (mg)



Vitamin B1 (mg)



Vitamin B2 (mg)



Niacin (mg)



Vitamin B6 (mg)



Folic acid (µg)



Vitamin C (mg)



Potassium (mg)



Sodium (mg)



Calcium (mg)



Magnesium (mg)



Phosphorus (mg)



Iron (mg)




Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions


When purchased, the seeds should be clean, smooth and shiny. They should smell fresh and aromatic. Small circular holes or dark spots indicate infestation with pests in storage.

An important quality characteristic for use is how they cook. This depends on the type of pea, the year of growth and the storage time. If they are stored too long the seeds will not soften when cooked.


Dried peas are well-suited for stockpiling. It is important that they be stored in a dry, well-aired and dark place. Unpeeled seeds will keep for at least a year; peeled peas should be used within 6 months.


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


Dried peas, like all pulses, should be washed before they are prepared. Prior to being cooked, unpeeled peas should be soaked for about 12 hours; peeled peas do not need to be soaked. Thereafter, depending on the sort, they must cook for 0.5-2 hours. Further tips for preparation can be found in the chapter on legumes and pulses.


Dried peas are cooked chiefly as soups, stews and purées. In particular, the large, yellow seeds are processed as peasemeal or pea flour, loose or compressed into a sausage shape, and as instant soup products.


Pea sausage is a dried soup of peasemeal, fat, seasonings and salt pressed into the shape of a sausage. It was the first ready-to-serve meal marketed and thus the forerunner of our packet soups.


Seasoning tip


Dried peas can be seasoned with bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, curry, cayenne pepper and garlic. Other combinations with nutmeg, thyme, bay leaf and black pepper are to be recommended. Further seasonings which can enhance these pulses are cardamom, marjoram, and parsley.





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