Spring Peas: From planting to platingOctober 25th, 2022
Snap. Crackle. POP! The preferred breakfast snack of our green-fingered queen of the nursery tunnels, Elzé Bresler, isn’t puffed rice, but a colourful and crunchy selection of sweet peas! In the new tunnels, Elzé cultivates a total of 11 heirloom peas – from sugar snaps to shelling peas to snow peas aka mangetouts.
These are a far cry from the peas you’ll find on supermarket shelves and in freezer sections. Our Babylonstoren heirloom peas have been selected not for their ability to produce identical-looking pods, but rather for their versatility. A vibrant host of colours, tastes and textures all lend themselves to different and interesting ways to enjoy them.
While in season, you may find these different types of peas popping up on your plate in Babel Restaurant, or as part of our seasonal fruit and veggie boxes. You can immediately recognise Elzé’s proud peas by their little flower hats, which we keep intact when harvesting. They’re beautiful to look at – especially on a spring-inspired harvest platter – and a super nifty handle for easy snacking.
Here’s how to best use our different heirloom pea varieties – raw or cooked.
Sugar Snap Peas
The green Queens are Elzé’s favourites, thanks to their sweetness. They have crisp, white blooms that morph into fat and crunchy peas that can be enjoyed as is – without shelling.
◗ They’re best served as is, on a spring-inspired crudités platter and with their little flower hats intact.
◗ Wrap in a thin layer of parma ham for extra decadence.
A little larger than the green Queens, Nairobi sugar snaps are totally stringless when just picked, making them another great choice for raw snacking. They may lack a little sweetness compared to the Queens, but what they lack in flavour they make up for in crunch!
◗ Serve with herbed yoghurt cheese as a mid-morning snack.
◗ Slice them into a green salad for the crunch factor.
These sugar snaps are more commercially known. We planted them as a reference for our heirloom varieties. They’re just as sweet as Queens and have a fatter body, offering delicious crunch.
◗ Use them fresh in a salad or on a harvesting board with dukkah.
The purple showstopper in our heirloom sugar snap selection, Raisin is a vigorous grower. The rambling shoots stretch up over two metres, producing imperial purple pods all the way up. The flavour is slightly deeper than that of the green sugar snaps, and they bear beautiful pinkish purple flowers – the first indication of the colour of the pods.
◗ Thanks to the unique colour, Raisin sugar snaps are perfect to add vibrancy and crunch to your salads.
◗ The depth of flavour also stands up to light cooking. You can sauté them in a colourful stir-fry.
This shelling pea is a double agent and can be enjoyed much like the sugar snap pea, in its entirety. The peas inside the pod may be small, but they’re supersweet, so shelling them gives you the best eating experience.
◗ Pop the peas from the pods and serve them fresh as a healthy snack.
As the name suggests, these peas ramble up high, producing big, long, fat pods filled with large peas.
◗ Add the impressive pods to a veggie board for an interactive bite. You simply pop open the pod, pick out the sweet and creamy peas from inside and discard the pea shell. A sprinkling of dukkah gives extra flavour and crunch.
Another brightly coloured inclusion in our tunnels, the Purple Podded pea has a deep purple shell that gains a stretchmark-like appearance as it ripens. Inside, you’ll find the sweetest green peas! Be warned – the colouring in the pod acts as a natural colour dye and will stain your hands!
◗ These beauties must be appreciated in their purple coats, so serve them whole and let your guests or your kids pop the pods to reveal the plump peas.
A brand-new variegated colour variety, this pea was bred in Stellenbosch by Peak Week Pods and has a beautiful pinkish purple tint with some green colouration along the edges.
◗ As with Purple Podded, Mendel Mauve shelling peas should be appreciated whole to show off their beautiful colours.
Another more commercial variety that would be familiar to gardeners, the Green Feast pea is a super rewarding grower with an abundance of pods filled with tightly packed, supersweet peas.
◗ These beauties are super versatile. Pop them fresh and sauté with butter for the best glossy peas you’ll ever have.
Mangetout aka Snow Peas
The beloved snow pea is recognised by its flat pods and thin pod walls. It is eaten whole and can be eaten raw or cooked. In raw form, snow peas lack flavour when compared to sugar snaps. We prefer to optimise their crunch-factor and their ability to carry flavour in a dish.
These bright lemon yellow peas are supersweet and great for stir-fries. The tall vines produce purple flowers.
◗ Perfect for pickling. The colour and crunch are preserved while they soak up a zingy flavour.
◗ Also great as a crunch and colour burst in stir-fries.
This mellow yellow snow pea is a favourite to use in light stews or Asian curries. Stir-fried with their flowers intact, they can also elevate a dish to fine dining status when served as a side veggie.
◗ Add them whole to Thai green curry for a crunchy bite.
◗ Stir-fry with carrots and yellow peppers for a bowl of sunshine veggies.