Sugar snaps are most flavorful cooked briefly, but they also can be eaten raw.
A cool weather vegetable, the sugar snap can be planted and harvested either in the spring or the fall.
Unlike the snow pea, the sugar snap pea has the best flavor when the peas have formed inside the pod.
The sugar snap pea is a cross between a garden or English pea and the snow pea. It resembles the English pea, but its pod is smaller and curved. It’s wholly edible like the snow pea, but its flavor is sweeter.
While the snow peas is best harvested while its seeds are small and its pod flat, the sugar snap is best harvested when its seeds are mature and its pod is plump.
The sugar snap pea is a relatively new pea. Although sugar peas have been around since the seventeenth century, the sugar snap—many varieties are stringless!–was perfected in the late 1970s.
The sugar snap is a medium to dark green pea and is best harvested when the pod is 2½ to 3 inches (6.4-7.5 cm) long.
The sugar snap pea cooks to perfection in just a couple of minutes, but it’s also tasty raw. All you need to do is snap off the stem end and pop it in your mouth.
Choose. Select sugar snap peas that have plump, crisp pods that are medium to dark green. The pods should be glossy, bulging and have a distinct snap when broken in two.
Avoid sugar snaps that are limp or damp looking or that are dry along the seam.
Prepare. Most varieties of sugar snap peas are stringless. To check, snap off the stem end. If there is a string, pull it along the interior or curved side. If you are going to serve the peas cool, string them after they have cooked and cooled.
Store. Sugar snaps can be refrigerated in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Do not wash peas before you refrigerate them. The longer you keep sugar snap peas, the less crisp and sweet they will be.
Serve. Sugar snaps can be served raw or only briefly cooked in order to retain their crisp, crunchy texture: steam about 4 minutes; simmer for 2 to 3 minutes; boil for 2 minutes; stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes; oven steam sliced sugar snaps in foil or parchment for 6 to 7 minutes, whole 9 minutes.
- Blanch sugar snaps in boiling water for 30 seconds before stir-frying or using in salads.
- Quick boil sugar snap then toss with butter or herbs or herb butter.
- Serve sautéed sugar snaps as a side dish for fish, poultry, pork, beef, veal, or in salads.
- Stir-dry snap peas with shrimp and serve hot with rice.
- Toss snap peas with shrimp, rice and vinaigrette and serve chilled.
- Add snap peas to stews just before serving.
- Batter-fry snap peas as tempura.
Flavor partners. Serve sugar snap peas with artichokes, chervil, chives, crabmeat, lettuce, mint, salmon, scallions, scallops, shad, shrimp, sorrel, and tarragon.
Nutrition. Peas are a good source of folic acid, potassium, thiamine, and magnesium and contain vitamin C and B.
The botanical name of sugar snap peas is Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon.