Peas are tiny, sphere-shaped seeds that come from Pisum sativum, a pod fruit.
They are rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants but low in calories and fat, making them the perfect side dish.
If you want to try your hand at growing peas, you’d be thrilled to know that they are easy to grow.
When to harvest peas? Depending on the variety, you can expect to pick peas 60 to 70 days after planting. Roughly speaking, that will be around three weeks after the flowers show. Watch out for pods that look like they’re swelling and showing visible pea forms.
How Do You Know When Your Peas Are Ready to Harvest?
Peas are at their sweetest and most tender state when they are still young.
As such, it is very important that you get the timing of the harvest right.
Again, it can be anywhere from two months after you’ve planted them or roughly three weeks after the flowers appear.
To be absolutely sure, you will want to pick and taste them every day from 60 days and up.
Do this until such time that you find the perfect taste and texture.
When it comes to edible pod peas, you will know they are ready when they reach anywhere from two to three inches long.
However, it should be well before the seeds even begin to swell.
On the other hand, you will want to wait for shelling pods to swell and become almost cylindrical before harvesting them.
Here’s another way to tell if the pea variety you planted is ready for picking:
- You can harvest shell peas before the pods turn waxy.
- Similarly, snap peas are ready when the pods are glossy and plump.
- For snow peas, you will only need to wait until the pods show immature seeds inside before harvesting.
Again, keep in mind that peas are not only easy to grow but also quick to mature.
Therefore, it’s imperative that you pay close attention when you know they are nearing their harvest date.
What Happens If You Don’t Harvest Peas?
If you planted them at the right time, your peas would mature before the hot season even comes.
It can be anywhere from late spring to early summer or fall when daytime temperatures are within the 60- to 70-degree range.
Blooming flowers are among the signs that signal your peas are close to maturing.
Once you notice them blooming, you will want to check and taste your peas every day to get the timing right.
But what happens if you missed their peak period? Does that mean all is lost? Not necessarily.
If you prolong harvest, you will notice your pea pods turning a dull yellow color and becoming harder each day.
You can still harvest the peas, but do not expect to get the same fresh and sweet taste.
Instead, you might notice the peas tasting a bit bitter and having an off texture.
They will be starchy and lack the sweetness that distinguishes freshly picked peas from the frozen kind.
Then, within one to three more days, you might not be able to consume them fresh.
What you can do with these peas then is wait for them to dry on the vine and then pick, dry, and shell them to add to your winter soups.
How to Harvest Peas?
When growing peas, one of the most important things to remember is to harvest often.
If you do, you will be encouraging the vines to produce even more pods, significantly increasing your yield.
Then again, you also have to remember that picking them too soon might not give you the results you want when it comes to sweetness.
If you are sure beyond reasonable doubt that they are ready to harvest, follow these simple steps to do it correctly.
Step 1: Time the harvest right.
To make sure you get that sweet pea flavor you so crave, harvest the pods in the morning.
It is when the peas’ sugar content is the highest.
You will also want to make sure the morning dew has evaporated to get a crunchy and crisp texture perfect for fresh eating.
Step 2: Pick peas using your two hands.
When picking peas, make sure you don’t tug on the pods or jerk them away to keep the plant intact.
If you handle them with heavy hands, there’s a good chance that the plant will get dislodged.
Instead, hold the vine with one hand and then pull the pod with your other hand as you pinch its stem.
Step 3: Immediately place harvested pea pods in cool water.
Like corn, the sugar content in peas will quickly turn into starch after picking.
What this means is that every minute you waste not eating them means you’re losing more and more of the sweet flavor.
To address this issue, you’ll want to nip it in the bud by dunking the pods in a bowl with cold water.
After, allow them to dry completely before storing them in the fridge.
If you do this correctly, you can expect your peas to hold on to their superb quality for longer than a week in the fridge.
Step 4: Harvest every one to two days.
As mentioned, you will encourage your pea plants to grow more pods if you pick them regularly.
The good thing about this is that they won’t stop growing until the start of the hot season.
Then again, if you’re not a fan of fresh peas, you can leave them in the vine until they go dry for use in soups.
Step 5: Place in the refrigerator for future use.
Regardless of how much you and your family loves peas, you probably won’t be able to consume all of your harvests at once.
In this case, you’ll want to learn the best method of storing peas that will preserve the most flavor and the best texture.
Stored peas will do best in a moist and cool place with temperatures between 32- and 40-degrees Fahrenheit.
The fridge is your best bet, but you’ll need to achieve a relative humidity level of around 95 percent.
For this, place the peas in a perforated bag and toss the bag in your fridge’s crisper drawer.
Step 6: Freeze peas for more extended storage.
If you are unable to consume these within a week, you might want to freeze them instead.
Otherwise, they will turn brown and become soft—things you definitely don’t want your peas to become.
To freeze peas, start by picking which pea pods you think pass the quality test.
Then, shell each pod and rinse the peas using a colander placed under running water.
You will then want to blanch them for three minutes to keep them looking fresh and bright green.
After the three minutes are up, transfer the peas into a bowl with ice water to put a stop to the cooking process.
Then, drain the water out and gently press down on the peas to remove excess water.
Working as quickly as you could, put the blanched peas in a freezer-safe container, packing them tightly but leaving half an inch of space at the top.
Step 7: Freeze edible pea pods.
For freezing edible pea pods, the first step requires picking out which pods are bright green in color, not molding, or have any blemish.
Next, rinse them under running water before removing the ends by pulling away the strings.
After that, blanch them for one to two minutes, depending on the variety and how thick the pod is.
Then, immediately after removing them from the heat, dip the pods in ice-cold water to stop the cooking process.
Lastly, grab a freezer-safe container or bag and place the blanched pea pods inside.
Should You Wash Peas After Harvesting?
As mentioned, peas will store best if you dip them in cool water right after harvesting.
Doing this stops the sugar from turning into starch, resulting in sweet-tasting peas that will last for about a week.
If you are planning to freeze peas, it is also a good idea to wash them beforehand.
Can You Eat Peas Immediately After Harvesting?
Not only is it okay to eat peas after harvesting, but it is actually recommended.
Peas are at their most delicious state immediately after picking them off from the vine.
You will get to enjoy the right crispness and crunch, as well as taste its distinct sweetness.
Nevertheless, you can also store it in the fridge for five to seven days.
The key is making sure you cool them down after harvesting to preserve their flavor and texture.
We like growing peas in our vegetable garden because they are easy to incorporate into any dish.
We use them in our pasts, soups, and casserole, as well as sauté and stir fry them.
This way, we get to add a heart-friendly ingredient to our meals.
What’s more, peas are also known to contain vitamin C and a handful of antioxidants that help boost the immune system.