The snap pea (Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon), also known as the sugar snap pea, is a cultivar group of edible-podded peas. The snap pea differs from the snow pea in that their pods are rounded as opposed to flat and thicker. The name mangetout (French for "eat all") can apply both to snap peas and snow peas.
|Cultivar group||Macrocarpon Group|
|Cultivar group members||Many; see text.|
|Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)|
|Energy||176 kJ (42 kcal)|
|Dietary fiber||2.6 g|
|Aspartic acid||0.228 g|
|Glutamic acid||0.448 g|
|Vitamin A equiv.||
|Vitamin A||1087 IU|
|Pantothenic acid (B5)||
†Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults. |
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
While snow peas had been grown in Europe in the 19th century, sugar snap peas were only first developed in 1952 by cross-breeding snow pea with a mutant shell pea plant. Researchers hoped that the cross might counteract twisting and buckling seen in varieties at the time. With this cross, Dr Calvin Lamborn and Dr M.C. Parker of Twin Falls, Idaho, had developed a new class of snow pea.
Snap peas, like all other peas, are pod fruits. An edible-podded pea is similar to a garden, or English, pea, but the pod is less fibrous, and edible when young. Pods of the edible-podded pea, including snap peas, do not have a membrane and do not open when ripe. At maturity, the pods grow to around 4–8 cm in length, Pods contain three to eight peas per pod. The plants are climbing, and pea sticks or a trellis or other support system is required for optimal growth. Some cultivars are capable of climbing to 2 m high but are more commonly around 1–1.3 m for ease of harvest and cultivation.
The snap pea is a cool season legume or fruit. It may be planted in spring as early as the soil can be worked. Seeds should be planted one to one-and-a-half inches (2,5–4 cm) deep. It tolerates light frost when young; it also has a wider adaptation and tolerance of higher temperatures than some other pea cultivars. Snap peas may grow to two metres (6.56 feet) or more, but more typically are about 1.3 metres (about four feet). They have a vining habit and require a trellis or similar support structure. They should get 4–6 hours of sunlight each day.
Below is a list of several snap pea cultivars currently available, ordered by days to maturity. Days to maturity is from germination to edible pod stage; add about 7 days to estimate shell pea stage. Amish Snap is the only true heirloom snap pea. PMR indicates some degree of powdery mildew resistance; afila types, also called semi-leafless, maintain an erect, interlocked, plant habit that allows good air movement through the canopy and reduces risk from lodging and mold
Snap peas are often served in salads or eaten whole. They may also be stir-fried or steamed. Before being eaten, mature snap pea pods may need to be "stringed," which means the membranous string running along the top of the pod from base to tip is removed. Over-cooking the pods will make them come apart.
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