If you want to know what springtime tastes like, bite into a sugar snap pea just pulled from the vine. The crunch of the pod, the pop of tiny seeds, and the sweet, green-grass flavor sing of winter’s departure. “Sugar snap peas are spring,” says Anne Bailey, owner of Annie Okra’s Barn in Rydal, Georgia. The plants take at least sixty days to reach maturity, so her peas are typically planted between Valentine’s Day and mid-March for harvesting at the start of May. The crop lasts only about as long as spring itself. As the days warm, the plants begin to fade; by the time May is through, so are the tender pods.
But if you crave that delicate pea flavor into the days of bold tomatoes and basil, there is a “cheat.” D & A Farm in Zebulon harvests the shoots of the Austrian winter pea seed long after sugar snaps are gone. Though Austrian winter pea seeds are typically used as a cover crop, the vines’ flavor harks back to those first tender green delights of the season. Farmer Dave Bentoski says most of his pea-shoot customers use them in stir-fries, but he likes them raw in salads. Bailey prefers her sugar snaps uncooked, too—the better to enjoy their purity.
Find Annie Okra’s sugar snaps at Dunwoody Green
Market and Marietta Square Farmers Market, and pea shoots from D & A Farm at Morningside and Marietta farmers markets.
This article originally appeared in our May 2013 issue.