Sugar snap peas, or simply snap peas, are a fairly recent vegetable crop. It was developed in 1952 as a cross between the shell pea and a snow pea. The cross began as a way to improve the pea but resulted in a brand new pea, one that had the best traits of both: a tender edible pod and plump, edible peas inside.
Snap peas are climbing vines, and like all peas, are a cool season crop. They can be planted in the early spring 6 weeks before the first frost, or the late fall or early winter in some areas.
Once ready to harvest, snap peas can be plucked easily from the plant, and should be harvested regularly to encourage growth. Sugar snap peas come in two different types: regular and “stringless”. Snap peas, like the snow peas, have a fibrous string that runs along its seam which should be remove before cooking. Stringless varieties of snap peas do not have this feature so they can be eaten with little prep time.
Snap Pea Cultivars
- Sugar Ann – early variety, crisp and sweet. 24″ vine length. Remove the string before eating. 52 days to maturity.
- Sugar Snap – very popular and most common of snap peas, very sweet and plump. Comes in string or stringless varieties. 6 foot vines need support. 62 days to maturity.
- Sugar Daddy – stringless variety, tender and sweet. 24″ vine length. 65 days to maturity.
- Sugar Magnolia – Purple pods, sweetest when they are young. Remove the string before eating. 70 days to maturity.
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Sugar snap peas image by thebittenword.com via Flickr and a Creative Commons 2.0 license.