Harvest of the Month: Spring Peas

If you’re a gardener who finds it hard to wait until May to start playing in the dirt, then spring peas are the crop for you. And if you’re someone who just craves garden-fresh food early in the season, you’ll love peas, too.

One of the first crops planted each year, peas can be called an “early” crop for other reasons, too. They date back thousands of years, and are considered to be one of the first plants that humans cultivated for food. When early settlers came to North America, they ate peas on the way over and immediately made them a garden staple.

While simple, the plants are also versatile. They can be consumed raw or cooked, enjoyed in their pods or out, kept fresh, dried, or frozen, and prepared in countless ways.

In the garden, their seeds can be planted when the ground is still cold, with some legends claiming St. Patrick’s Day is a lucky day for planting peas.

If you’re picking or buying fresh peas, look for bright, plump and glossy pods, unless you’re buying snow peas, in which case you’ll want flat and glossy pods. Either way, they should be crisp when you bite them.

Typically, you’ll want to enjoy fresh peas as quickly as possible, but if you do need to store them, put them in the refrigerator. If you plan to shell them, wait until you’re ready to eat or cook them. That will preserve their flavor, color and texture.

Try Spring Peas in this Creamy Spring Peas with Pancetta recipe!

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