Thursday, June 4, 2009

Green peas also known as "english" and "sweet" peas are one of my favorite veggies. Sometimes tough to find fresh because of their short shelf-life. Sadly, they begin to lose their sweet flavor after 2-3 days of being picked.

Here are a few tips to help you choose the freshest peas:

Hail marks do not usually affect the sweetness or freshness of green peas, so don't be put off by their appearance. The best method is always the "taste test', be wary of sellers that forbid shoppers from sampling.

If you are purchasing bagged peas, condensation in the bags is usually an indication the peas are not fresh. Punch a few air holes in the bag when you get home to allow the peas to breathe, this will extend their freshness.

Brown marks, wrinkling and pods with tiny peas inside are signs of staleness or poor quality. With many new varieties available today, large pods don't necessarily mean the peas are overmature and tough.

Green peas should be picked early in morning and need to be cooled immediately. They build up a lot of field heat which will ruin their flavor. A few finicky vegetables (e.g. corn, dill cukes, peas) emit extreme heat at their core after they are harvested. Picking them in hot weather (+82F/28C) cuts their shelf life to only a day. Peas destined for market should always be cooled down overnight or run through a hydro-cooler by the growers before they leave the farm.

It can be difficult to find fresh peas in supermarkets because of the distribution times involved. Produce is normally received first at the warehouse, then shipped out to the stores overnight. This is one veggie I recommend picking up at your local farmer's market.

Fresh peas should be eaten within 2-3 days of being picked or they begin to taste old. Always ask when they were picked. Enjoy and happy shopping.


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