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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Minor Differences between Snap and Sugar Snap Peas

Q. Have had much success with sugar snap peas, but lately I’ve been planting sugar snap peas and getting snow peas instead.  Is it because the seed is old? 

Flowering of snap peas

A. I’m not sure the difference you are seeing between these snow peas and snap peas. Snow peas have flat pods when young and we see them frequently used in stirfry. Snap peas, or sugar snap peas as they are sometimes called, have round pods when they are young and not used conventionally in stirfry.
New growth of bush form of snap peas
            Snap peas, when they first emerge, are flat. As the seed inside the pod begins to enlarge the pod becomes round. If you pick snap peas too early they will look like snow peas. When harvesting snap peas, wait a little bit longer for the seed to enlarge and the pod to become round. But harvest the pods before the seed becomes mature. If you wait too long, the seed contains more starch rather than sugar and not as sweet.
            The differences between the two are genetic so it should have nothing to do with the age of the seed. Snap peas were genetically bred from their ancestors, the English or garden pea and snow peas, to be less fibrous when they are young.
            You also might be referring to the “strings” in the pod or how tough the pod is. If strings are a problem, harvest when very young or the pod may get tough when older. If you’re having problems with strings, remove the strings from the pods before using them and start harvesting earlier.

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