Peas are a legume and a seed. They are contained within a bright green, cylindrical, boat-shaped pod, with a small point at one end. The edible parts of standard peas are the small smooth green seeds, which are attached to one seam of the pod. Their sweet flavour and soft texture makes them popular as a side, in salads, pastas, rice dishes and more.
Good quality peas should be uniformly bright green, fully turgid and free from defects and mechanical damage. Stems and calyxes should be green. For best quality, they should be harvested before physiological maturity.
Postharvest storage temperature
Peas lose sugars and flavour rapidly after harvest unless they are promptly cooled to 0°C, at which they can be stored for 1–2 weeks with 95–98% relative humidity. Peas store better unshelled than shelled, possibly because shelling damages the peas. If there is surface moisture on peas, it is essential that they are stored below 2°C.
Controlled atmosphere storage
Little work has been done on controlled atmosphere storage of peas.
Peas are moderately sensitive to ethylene after harvest, which results in yellowing and increased decay. The calyx is more sensitive to ethylene than the pod.
Peas should be held at 95–98% relative humidity.
Disease & infection
Due to their high respiration rate, the heat generated by unrefrigerated peas will promote decay. Blemishes that reduce quality can be caused by: alternaria blight due to alternaria alternata; anthracnose due to colletotrichum; ascochyta pod spot caused by ascochyta pisi lib; and powdery mildew due to erysiphe spp. Grey mould can be a problem at the blossom end of fresh-cut pods.
Enjoying fresh peas raw or lightly steamed when in season, otherwise opt for frozen peas lightly steamed or stir-fried the rest of the year. Remember not to thaw frozen peas before cooking.