58

Grow Your Own: Peas

Peas are packed with nutrients, easy to grow and versatile in cooking. By Piers Warren

Peas are so good for you and tasty, too! Packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and protein, every vegan should try growing them. Peas eaten straight from the pod immediately after harvesting are so sweet they can be eaten as a snack or added to salads raw. They have a multitude of uses in other dishes from stir-fries to stews and soups. The young pea-shoots can be eaten in salads, the pods made into peapod wine, and dried peas can be sprouted and used in salads and stir-fries after just a few days.

Recommended varieties
First Early May: Can be sown in October/ November for an early June harvest.
Greenshaft: Sow in early spring, matures quickly.
Rapido: Hardy, good for early sowings, a small Petit Pois type, perfect for freezing.
Sugar Pea Norli: A classic mange-tout variety.
Sugar Snap: Pick young and eat the plump pods whole, or leave to mature and shell.

Sow according to the variety - autumn for an early harvest; early spring under cover. Later successional sowings every two or three weeks should give you fresh peas from June to September. Some varieties can grow tall and will need peasticks or canes for support.

Pea moth is a common problem - with the adults laying eggs on flowering peas in June and July. Once the creamy-white larvae have hatched they burrow into the pods and eat the developing peas inside. They may well not be noticed until the peas are shelled. If this becomes a problem, in future years you can either cover the plants with horticultural fleece over the flowering period (as peas are self-pollinating this won't reduce the crop) or make early and late sowings (March and July, for example), which will flower outside the moth's peak laying season.

Peas lose their sweetness rapidly after picking- the sugar is converted to starch within minutes of harvesting, so only pick the pods when you are going to use them, or freeze the peas straight away. When harvesting, hold the plant stem with one hand while you pull the pods off with the other - otherwise you may break the stem.

Peas lose their sweetness rapidly after picking- the sugar is converted to starch within minutes of harvesting, so only pick the pods when you are going to use them, or freeze the peas straight away. When harvesting, hold the plant stem with one hand while you pull the pods off with the other - otherwise you may break the stem.

Storage: To freeze peas, pick while tender, shell and blanch for 1 minute before bagging-up and freezing. To cook from frozen, boil for about 5 minutes. Varieties where you eat the pod too - such as mange-tout and sugar snap - can be frozen whole or sliced, after blanching for 2 minutes. To dry them, leave the pods on the plants until they turn yellow, then cut the plant at ground level and hang indoors to dry completely. When the pods have become brittle, shell the peas and leave on trays for a few days. Then store in a cool dry place - in airtight containers. Soak dried peas overnight before cooking.

 

Piers Warren is the co-author(with his daughter, Ella Bee Glendining)of The Vegan Cook & Gardener: Growing, Storing and Cooking Delicious Healthy Food all Year Round
available from tinyurl.com/VONCOOK21

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.