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Dried Peas

Peas dried1

Peas driedField peas–also called dried peas–are grown specifically to be used dried.

Dried peas are used in soups, pastas, cereals, and purées. Dried field peas are available at farm markets whole or split.

The green pea and the yellow pea are the two most common field peas. The black-eyed pea or cowpea and the chickpea are also sold dried, but these are not peas but beans.

Field peas are a cool-season vegetable just like garden peas and sugar peas, but they are allowed to dry on the vine before harvest and so are usually harvested during the hot summer months.

Field peas usually contain four to nine seeds. They are ready for harvest after their pods have matured, dried, and turned yellow or tan.

Split peas are whole dried peas that have been divided along their natural seam. Split peas have long been used for soups.

The English pease pudding of nursery rhyme fame was a split pea soup. Pease pudding is made from dried peas, butter, and eggs. As the rhyme goes, pease pudding is good hot, cold, and nine days old. Pease pudding is traditionally eaten with pork and boiled bacon.

Bacon, sausage, and smoked pork are flavorful additions to dried peas and dried peas soups.

Preparation. Whole field peas and split peas are boiled in 4 parts water to 1 part peas until soft (about one hour). They can be boiled further to reduce them to a purée. Puréed peas can be seasoned with butter or spices or made into soup.

Most dried peas require presoaking to soften them before cooking: cover the peas with cold water and soak at least 8 hours or overnight.

To quick soak peas, cover them with cold water, bring to a boil, boil for 1 minute, cover, remove from heat, and let stand for 1 hour. Discard the soaking water before cooking.

Filed peas facts and trivia. Dried peas have been cultivated and used for food for more than 10,000 years. Dried peas were found in a Bronze Age village unearthed in Switzerland. The peas had been dried in about 7,800 B.C. And when the German archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered ancient Troy of Homer’s Iliad fame, he also found dried beans. They were still edible.

Most peas were eaten dried or ground until the sixteenth century. At that time, Italian and Dutch gardeners began to develop tender varieties of peas for cooking and eating fresh.

The botanical name of field peas is Pisum sativum.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. Harvesttotable.com has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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  1. Thank you! I was given some peas to grow in my garden that are ‘split peas’ and wanted to learn more. I met the daughter, Abe from the documentary/movie called Modified, and she gave me some of her mother’s peas who grew a lot of her own food. These peas are special to me – so didn’t want to harvest them wrong. Thanks again!

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