The subject of Peas continues to absorb all others; the anxiety to eat them, the pleasure of having eaten them, and the desire to eat them again, are the three great matters which have been discussed by our Princes for four days past.
–Madame de Maintenon 1696, on the court of Louis XIV
First cultivated by Renaissance gardeners in the 1600’s, sugar snap peas were considered to be a rare and decadent treat. Their cultivation was “perfected” in 1979, the result of a cross between snow peas and shelling peas. Today they embody the best of both worlds when it comes to taste and texture in the pea family. Like their English relatives (often called “Garden” or “English” peas) sugar snap pea pods are filled with small, sweet seeds. With a smaller, curved, edible pod, the sugar snap pea stands out from its predecessors. Their seeds are as large and tender as an English shelling pea, but their shells are edible, like the smaller, less robust snow pea. Sugar snap peas are plump and crisp, with velvety, bright green skin.
Your mother was right about eating your peas: like other varieties, sugar snaps boast a wide variety of health benefits. Loaded with fiber and impressive amounts of iron and Vitamin A, peas are a great addition to any meal, raw or cooked. You’ll find sugar snap peas in season from early summer into the fall.
The freshest sugar snap peas will be a vibrant green and still have traces of the flower at the stem. Make sure they snap when broken. Ideally, sugar snap peas should be eaten as soon after being picked as possible. Peas will maintain their sweetness for about two days in a ventilated plastic bag in the refrigerator.