It’s time for the annual pea admiration festival. For this week’s #SixonSaturday I’ll tell you about my six (so far) favourite peas. This undervalued vegetable is nice enough though a little boring when it comes out of packet in the freezer. When you grow your own in the garden though, it grows fast, climbs quickly, produces magnificent flowers and tastes devine – almost a different vegetable. I discovered growing peas almost by accident.
- I had always grown mange tout and thought they were pretty ok – usually I grow ‘Norli’ which provides a sturdy if unexciting little pea
- Until I picked up a packet of Carouby de Massaune and was completely hooked by its wondrous flowers – picture from a previous year here
This is also best eaten as a mange tout.
3. Then I discovered the amazing Salmon Pink, a heritage variety picked up at a seed swap event. I’d always thought that there was no point in growing peas that grow into fat pods (thinking that the ones from the freezer would be just as good). But Salmon Pink is a ‘wait till the pods fill up’ pea (I can’t think what the opposite of mange tout is). They tasted rather good and the other advantage of leaving them to grow into full sized peas is that they produce enough seed to save. I’ve managed to keep this one going by saving seed every year. Here are this year’s firework flowers:
4. Since then, I’ve tried new varieties, usually based on their names and likely flower colours. So I added Blue Prussian – which has unassuming (not even blue) flowers but really impressive pea pods, full of fat peas:
I discovered that the name comes from the peas when they mature – they turn blue and are great for saving (pictured here with some red peas and some Norli).
5. In my search for multi-coloured blooms, the next one I tried was the red flowered ‘Gris’, which was a little disappointing. The flowers are not really red and the peas are nice enough, though not spectacular:
6. This year’s discovery was Blauwschockker – the clue, I thought was in the name – another blue pea to rival the Carouby de Maussane perhaps. The flowers are ok, though not really blue, but just look at those dark purple pods:
We had a few in salad as mange tout and they were rather nice, and added lots of interest. Then I went away on holiday for a week or so and came back to some which had developed into full podded peas – and wow they are amazing
Green peas inside purple pods and they taste great – uncooked, fresh from the pod in salad, or added at the last minute with minimal cooking to soup or casseroles. So far, this year, the stars have been the Salmon Pink for flowers and the Prussian Blues and the Blauwschockker for peas. Somehow I’ve failed to get a crop of Carouby de Maussanne – the seeds I thought had saved produced some nice enough peas but not the glorious flowers. So there’s my Six and maybe I’ve persuaded you to grow your own peas. I’m still on a mission to discover new varieties so let me know if you have a favourite that I could try next year.