FoodLink - Purdue Extension

green peas

Pisum sativum
Available from April to June


There are three main types of green peas: English, snap, and snow.

English Peas: pods are too tough to be edible; peas must be shelled out.

Snap Peas: pods are edible with fattened peas inside.

Snow Peas: pods are edible with flat peas inside.


Green shelling peas are sold either shelled or unshelled. Shelled peas are more expensive than unshelled, but they save you the time of shelling them yourself. To shell a pea gently squeeze the blossom end with your thumb and first finger on the seams. It should pop open at the seam. Then run your finger or thumb down the the inside of the pod to release the peas as the seam unzips. Discard the pod.

Do not confuse green peas for shelling with snap peas or snow peas, which have edible pods. Here are some ways to prepare green peas. Snap and snow peas can be prepared in all the same ways. Before eating these peas, snap off stems and remove the stringy spines on both sides of the pod, and enjoy the whole pod.

Green peas are extremely versatile in the kitchen. They can be added cooked or raw to any casserole, stir-fry, sauté, rice or noodle dish, soup, or salad. Cooking times vary greatly depending on when the green peas were harvested. Young, small ones require less cooking than older, starchy ones.

Raw: Although a bit starchy, fresh green peas can be eaten raw. They make a nice quick snack or an addition to any salad

Steam: In a saucepan bring about 1 inch of water to a boil, place steaming basket in the pan, slowly add peas to the steaming basket, and cover with a lid. Steam for about 2 minutes, if frozen it may take a few minutes longer.

Boil: Boil water in a saucepan (enough to cover peas) add peas, lower heat to medium, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Microwave: Place shelled peas in a microwave-safe container with 2 tablespoons of water in the bottom. Microwave on  high in a covered container, checking every 2 minutes for doneness. Add butter and salt to taste.


Short-Term Storage

Shell the peas upon getting home from market. This will save room in your refrigerator and time at meal prep. Keep shelled peas in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible, as peas tend to become more starchy over time. Snap and snow peas do not need to be shelled.

Long-Term Storage

Green peas can be frozen, canned, or dried.

To freeze, blanch peas by cooking them in boiling water for 2 minutes, then plunge them into cold water to halt the cooking process. Allow them to dry on a lint-free towel and pack into freezer bags. Peas can be frozen for up to 6 months.

Learn more about freezing vegetables.

Learn more about canning shelled peas.

Learn more about drying vegetables.

Quick Fact

Sweet peas are related to edible peas, but are an entirely different plant grown for the sweet-smelling blossoms.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size

1 Cup (145g)







% Daily Value

Total Calories









Dietary Fiber



Total Sugars



Total Fat



Saturated Fat



























Vitamin A

 55 ug


Vitamin C

 58 mg








Food Safety Tips

Always keep fresh produce away from raw meat and raw meat juices to avoid cross-contamination.

Follow the safe food guidelines for all fresh produce.

Related Resources

Peas are in the Fabaceae family and are a cool-season annual. Three types of peas are commonly grown:

  • Garden peas (English peas) are harvested and shelled with the tender peas inside eaten fresh. They may also be allowed to mature and dry and then used as split peas.
  • Snap peas or sugar snap peas are the edible-pod version of garden peas. They have low fiber pods that can be “snapped” and eaten along with the immature peas inside.
  • Snow peas (sometimes also called sugar peas) are edible pod peas that are flat instead of round and are popular in Chinese cuisine.

Both short-medium varieties (18-30 inches) and tall varieties (to 6 feet) that need to be supported on a trellis are available. Plant the seeds directly into the garden after soil has warmed to 45°F about 4-6 weeks before average last frost date. Harvest period is short so plant repeatedly until about a week before the average first frost date to ensure a continual harvest. Vining types have a longer harvest period. Estimated yield per 10 feet row is 3 pounds.

For fall planting, assume harvest is on average first frost date and count back using days to
harvest information for your variety to determine the last planting date (typically 10-12 weeks
before the average first frost date for late-season varieties). Peas will not mature after a frost. Planting for a fall harvest can start as early as June in northern Indiana and in August for the
warmest parts of the state.

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