What's in Season?

Winter, spring, summer, and fall each offer their own unique fruits and vegetables for distinct seasonal flavor. Learn to choose and use each season's best.

Guide to Peas

Whether snow, snap, or shelling types, sweet little peas are a treat. Peas, please!


Photo: Oxmoor House

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SEASON: Spring through fall

CHOOSING: Green peas for shelling should have green, glossy pods that feel firm and full. Snow pea pods should be flat with almost no visible lumps of peas inside. And edible-podded sugar snap peas should be crisp and plump. All types should be refrigerated after you buy them because their sweetness declines quickly after picking.

STORING: If you can’t cook and eat them immediately, store peas in a produce bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Wait to shell peas just before you cook them.

GROWING: Plant in the cool season of spring and fall in most of the country. In northern or high-altitude areas with cool summers, they can be picked all summer. Where winters are mild with only light frosts, gardeners enjoy peas all winter.

Peas grow on vines that need a trellis, even if it’s a tepee made of bamboo and twine or a section of metal fencing. Even those labeled as “bush” peas will do better with a little support. Select a sunny site, and push seeds into well-prepared soil about 1 inch deep and 2 to 3 inches apart.

All types require about two months of growth from the time seeds are sown until the first peas are ready to be picked. That means planting about a month before the last spring frost so there will be time to enjoy a long harvest before the days start to get hot. For a fall planting, sow seeds in late summer.

The tall, vining varieties have the longest harvest, about six weeks. You can make a second planting a few weeks after the first to have a continuous supply.

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