Considered the most flavorful of all peas, snap peas have a very sweet flavor profile that makes them popular.
On top of that, they are also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin K, fiber, potassium, and beta-carotene.
Like other varieties of peas, snap peas are also easy to grow and mature quickly.
When to harvest snap peas? Depending on the climate, you will only need to wait six to eight weeks after planting to harvest snap peas. You will know they are ready to pick when the pods look fat and firm, but the seeds are barely noticeable. Harvest regularly to encourage the plant to grow more pods.
How Do You Know When Your Snap Peas Are Ready to Harvest?
Snap peas enjoy the cool season and will thrive alongside lettuce, spinach, and radish.
Given the right growing conditions, snap pea plants can grow four to six feet tall. They will produce flowers in about 40 days and then pea pods right after.
Timing is very important when harvesting snap peas because you can only enjoy them at their sweetest and most tender stage when you pick them at the right time.
That said, what are the signs to watch out for to know they are ready for picking?
Monitor your calendar.
Like most crops, the growing time will depend on the climate in your area.
Generally, it will take snap pea plants 60 to 70 days to grow from seeds and produce pea pods.
For sugar snap peas, you will want to make sure you expose the plants to four to six hours of sunlight to have enough energy to produce pods.
When planned correctly, you may be able to plant snap peas twice in a single growing season.
We recommend checking your plants every two to three days right after they bloom.
The pods should be ready for harvest around five to eight days after the plants are finished flowering.
Inspect the pods.
Once the plant starts producing pods, you will need to check them regularly. These pods grow fast, and you’ll want to harvest them before they are fully mature.
Check for pods that appear to be swelling, but don’t wait until the individual seeds are fully formed.
At maturity, the individual pods will be around 2.5 to three inches long and become a bright to dark green color.
Check the weather.
Even the weather in your area plays a big role in ensuring you harvest your snap peas at the right time.
Not harvesting before the temperatures start to rise will cause them to lose their sweet flavor and crunchy texture.
What Happens if You Don’t Harvest Snap Peas?
Snap peas are healthy, low-calorie, and flavorful vegetables often added to dishes for some color and texture. You can either cook, blanch, or eat them raw.
However, to enjoy all of these, you have to make sure you harvest the pods at the right time.
Snap peas will quickly lose their crunch and sweetness when allowed to stay on the plant for too long. In fact, even a day or two longer than necessary will impact their overall quality.
As mentioned, the plants will continue producing pods even after you harvest the first batch.
Therefore, letting them stay on the plant for too long means delaying the production of more pods.
This is also why harvesting the pods when they are not yet fully mature is beneficial.
The plant’s ultimate goal is to develop seeds.
If you harvest the pods when they are still young and aren’t fully developed, the plant will continue to produce more pods to achieve its goal.
You may even be able to encourage it to produce new pods consistently for about two to three months.
How To Harvest Snap Peas
By now, you should be able to tell exactly when your snap peas are ready for picking. Do you know how to do it correctly?
Harvesting sugar snap peas isn’t all that complicated. You can do it by following these simple steps:
Step 1: Check for maturity.
The first step to harvesting any kind of crop is to check whether they are ready for picking or not.
For snap peas, you can refer to the guide we talked about earlier.
The most important thing to remember is to start picking them as early as they become edible, about a week after the plant is done flowering.
To be sure, grab one pod and snap it in half to check the seeds inside.
If the seeds have started to become too noticeable and swollen, you will know you’ve waited too long.
Step 2: Prepare your tools.
Once you’re sure which pods to pick, you can start preparing for harvest.
To start, get your trusted pair of gardening shears, making sure you disinfect them beforehand.
Remember, you want the plant to produce more pods; disinfecting your tools will protect it from infections.
Using shears instead of tugging on the pods will also lessen the plant’s stress.
Step 3: Start harvesting.
Look for a pod you want to harvest and hold it in your hand. With your other hand, cut it from the vine just above the stem.
Each plant will have several pods, but you don’t need to pick them all at once if they aren’t mature enough yet.
If you think they need more time growing, you can just come back the next day to check.
Should You Wash Snap Peas After Harvesting?
There’s no denying how important it is to wash freshly harvested produce, as doing so will help get rid of dirt and bugs.
Rinsing snap peas and rubbing them together under running water should do the trick; no vegetable cleaner or anything similar necessary.
After washing, remove the string by pulling it down the seam and then discarding it.
Now, does the same rule apply if you are going to store your snap peas for later use?
If you plan on refrigerating them shortly after harvesting, it’s not a good idea to wash them because too much moisture can and will cause them to spoil too quickly.
Instead, you will want to bring them inside soon after picking, put them in a Ziploc bag, and toss the bag in the fridge’s crisper drawer.
Keep in mind that the longer they stay in storage, the more they lose their crunch and flavor. Hence, eat them as soon as possible.
If that’s not possible, it might be better to learn how to freeze snap peas instead.
Can You Eat Snap Peas Immediately After Harvesting?
Yes, definitely. In fact, they are most flavorful right after harvesting. That’s because the sugar content in snap peas will quickly turn into starch after picking.
Hence, you’ll want to eat snap peas right away.
It’s very important not to leave your freshly harvested snap peas at room temperature.
As mentioned, exposing them to warm temperatures will make them go limp and become flavorless.
It’s also why we recommend putting them in the fridge right away. For longer storage, here’s how to freeze snap peas:
Blanch and then Freeze
Refrigerated snap peas will only last about a week or two. If you need them to last longer than that, you will have to blanch and then freeze them.
Blanching before freezing snap peas kills the enzymes that age the pods and cause them to decompose, so it is a very important step.
Following this method will extend its shelf life to roughly eight months.
Before blanching, rinse each pod under running water to remove dirt or any bugs hiding in the crevices.
Removing the string is also a good extra step to take.
Step 1: Start by heating a pot of water and waiting for it to boil. Then, drop the sugar snap peas in it for about one to two minutes.
Step 2: Remove the pods from the pot and dip them in ice-cold water immediately to stop them from cooking.
Step 3: Next, you will need to dry them completely using clean paper towels.
Once dry, lay them out on a baking sheet and put the tray in the freezer for a couple of hours until the pods are totally frozen.
Step 4: After making sure the pods are frozen, grab an airtight container and pack the frozen snap pea pods inside. Lastly, put the container in the freezer.
Snap peas are quick growers, which is why many gardeners enjoy growing them at home.
For that same reason, you’ll want to check them from time to time to ensure you can harvest the pods before they are past their prime.
Harvesting sugar snaps at the right time ensure you get to enjoy them at their best.
Remember to start picking when the pods are still green and soft, and the seeds aren’t fully matured yet.
While they are best consumed right after picking, you can also extend their shelf life by storing them in the fridge or freezing them.
Make sure you follow our storage tips to keep their crunchy texture and sweet flavor intact for longer.