How to harvest peas?

Pea Picking: The best way to tell when peas are ready is to pick and taste each day until they are just right.

The best tasting peas are young, sweet, and tender.

The best way to tell when peas are ready is to pick and taste each day until they are just right. Then harvest.

Peas should be just about ready for harvest 3 weeks after the flowers appear. Shelling peas are ready when the pods have swelled and are nearly cylindrical shape. Edible pod peas are ready when they are 2-3 inches long, before the seeds begin to swell.

A small pair of scissors may be the quickest way to harvest, or pinch them off by hand. Vines can be brittle, so steady them with one hand with picking with the other. The tips of pea vines are edible and can be used in stir fries.

Harvest peas often. The more you pick the more the vines will produce.

You’ll want to start eating your pea harvest immediately. Like corn, peas start converting their sugar to starch as soon as they are picked.

If your peas taste just a tad bitter or the texture seems off, you probably waited too long.

Pea growing tips at How to Grow Peas.

Harvesting Peas – A How-To Guide

When harvesting peas, check the appearance of the pods to determine if they are ready to be picked. Peas have the best, sweetest flavor if they are picked at just the right time. Harvest too early and the pods will be small with only a few peas inside. Wait too late and the pods become fibrous and the peas inside lose much of their sweetness. Here are some tips for determining if your peas are ready to be picked.

Garden Peas

When harvesting peas that will need to be shelled, check to see that the pod is round and bright green. It should also be somewhat shiny. There should be no visible bumps. These are indications that your peas have reached their peak and are ready to be harvested. If you wait too long, the pods will have bumps from the peas inside getting too large. The pods will also be dull green with no sheen. At this stage, your peas are over- ripe. You can still pick them and eat them, they just won’t taste as good and may have a tough texture.

Snap Peas

When harvesting peas that have a round, edible pod, you also have a larger window of time to still get great flavor and texture. You can harvest them as early as you want to. You can also wait until the pods are large and rounded. As long as the pod appears to be shiny and not bulging, it will still taste sweet and have a good level of crispness. Once the peas begin to dull and get bulges, they are past their prime. You can still pick them and shell the peas to eat, but the pods will be fibrous and not taste as good. As with snow peas, it’s better to pick snap peas too early rather than too late.

Snow Peas

When harvesting peas that have a flat, edible pod, you have a bigger window of time to still get great flavor. These peas can be picked as soon as they are big enough for your liking. As long as the peas inside the pod have not enlarged, you’re in good shape. You can also gently squeeze the pods to see if there’s a little movement around the peas inside. Once the peas inside become larger, the pod will be tighter, rounder and have a more fibrous texture. At this stage, the pods and peas will also lose much of their sweetness. When in doubt, it’s better to pick snow peas too early rather than too late.

When harvesting peas of any variety, take great care when picking the pods from the vine. Pea plants have shallow root systems. If you aren’t careful, you may pull the whole plant out of the ground when trying to pick a pea pod. The stems are also delicate and can break off easily. It’s best to use 2 hands to pick peas. Use one of your hands to hold the vine and the other hand to gently pinch the pod off the plant.

Pea plants, like peppers, green beans and lots of other plants, will produce more if you keep picking the peas on a regular basis. Once the plants begin producing pods, you should be harvesting peas every 2-3 days to force the plants to produce more pods.

If it was up to them and weather conditions were ideal, pea plants would continuously produce pods throughout the year, as long as you kept picking them. However, pod production and quality begins to suffer greatly when hot weather appears. If you are growing a fall pea crop, harvest as many peas as you can before the first hard freeze, which will also shut down production. Once production stops, you can pull the plants up by the roots and add
them to your compost pile.

After harvesting garden peas, you’ll need to remove the peas from the inedible pods. Use your fingernail or a small sharp knife to cut a slit down the length of the pod. Open the pod and empty out the peas. The pods can be added to your compost pile.

Since the pods of snow peas and snap peas are edible, they don’t need to be shelled. Just trim off any remaining stems and eat them whole, pod and all.

Garden peas, snow peas and snap peas are best eaten as soon as possible after picking them. They will keep in the refrigerator for up to 7 days. Wash them off and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. If you want to store peas for longer, you can freeze them. Just blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes and them plunge them into ice-water to stop the cooking process. Once cool, you can pack the peas in airtight bags or containers and place them in the freezer. They will last for up to 9 months. You can use this method to freeze garden peas, snow peas and snap peas.

You can also use a dehydrator to dry shelled garden peas. Once dried out, they can be stored in airtight bags or containers and used later in stew or soup. This process doesn’t work well for snap peas or snow peas. You can also leave the peas on the vine until the pods turn brown and brittle. The peas inside will dry out and can be shelled directly into airtight bags or jars.

Now that you know all about harvesting peas, it’s time for a few of our favorite recipes that feature peas.

Weirdly enough, while most think dinner when they hear “peas,” I always get flashbacks to AP Bio with Mendelian Genetics. Does that make me a nerd? Probs. But, it does show that peas are a helluva lot more interesting than just your frozen pea-and-carrot blend. In fact, there are actually several varieties of peas, and I’m sure you’ve wondered about the difference between two biggies: snow and snap. But, in the snow peas vs snap peas debate, there’s actually another player involved.

Wait, so there are more than two peas?

Well, there are actually a ton of subcategories of peas, but unless you’re, like, really procrastinating that homework, I won’t get into that. Basically, there are three main types of peas: garden, sugar, and snap. Sounds like a rice crispy slogan, but green-themed.

Garden Peas

Also called English Peas, these are what you commonly get in a can or in bags from the freezer aisle. You’re probably super familiar with chasing these guys around your plate because they’re hard to stab with a fork. You don’t eat the pod—well, you can, but they don’t taste that great—and so you typically wait until the seeds/peas inside are fully mature. They actually have more vitamins and minerals than the other pea varieties, if you’re interested in that stuff.

Fun Fact: ever see Harvest Snaps at the grocery store? They’re one of my favorite healthy-ish snacks, but they actually aren’t made from snap peas—they’re ground up garden peas that are baked into pea shapes. The more ya know.

Garden peas are really great to eat fresh out of the shell, but you can also make this lemon quinoa pea recipe, or if you’re feeling extra fancy, you can use frozen peas to make carbonara-inspired ravioli and sausage with almond milk cream sauce. Who needs to know how lazy you are?

Snow Peas

If you ever got peas in a dish you ordered from your local Chinese place, odds are that they were Snow Peas. These guys are almost flat, because they’re grown for the pods, not the lil peas on the inside. They’re also fairly translucent, so you can see the peas growing inside of them if you hold them up to the light.

You can boil snow peas and throw them in just about anything, but if you want to challenge yourself can try this shrimp noodle soup, this mixed veggie tofu stir-fry, or this shoyu ramen recipe, a traditional Japanese-style dish.

Sugar Snap Peas

Finally, we get to our last variety of pea in the snow peas vs snap peas debate. Sugar peas, or snap peas, or sugar snap peas, are actually a cross between snow peas and garden peas. They were developed in the late ’60s by Calvin Lamborn, who wanted the sweetness of the green pea without having to do all the hard work of shelling them. Thus, you can eat sugar peas whole, preferably by dipping them in hummus. Work smarter, not harder, friends.

Like I said, my favorite way to eat sugar peas is just to dip them in hummus, but you can totally throw them in a simple summer salad or try these roasted scallion and snap pea spring rolls with tahini sauce. Def worth the extra effort.

Neat, but… why eat them?

You know you’re supposed to eat your greens, but if you want some extra motivation for downing those lil peas, I have some wholesome news for you. Peas are low in calories—less than 100 in a cup, actually. They’ve also been linked to stomach cancer prevention, heart health, and are filled with antioxidants. Good things come in small packages, ya know?

Now that you’ve gotten past the snow peas vs snap peas issue, why not go out and grab some from your local grocery store? Or, better yet, try growing your own in your dorm. After all, we all can use some tiny plant friends to help liven up our spaces.


Your comments and tips

Post a comment or question Display Newest first | Oldest first, Show comments for Australia | for all countries 07 Oct 18, robert newman (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Why can’t i grow snow peas , got healthy green plants but no peas 07 Oct 18, Mike (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Depends on the variety. Some are smaller plants and flower from about 8 weeks 11 Oct 18, Mike (Australia – sub-tropical climate) They cut half of my comment off. Some peas grow to 4-5′ before flowering. After 8-10 weeks you should have flowers. (Mike, I did not cut your comment. It arrived cut off – Liz @gardenate) 12 Oct 18, Mike (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Liz – this happens to me quite a few times – any reason. Do i not give it enough time to up load???? Most of your ‘comments’ arrive complete, so that is probably the reason – Liz 10 Sep 18, Adam (Australia – temperate climate) Hi everyone, does anyone know if I can grow black chick peas (Kala Chana) in South Australia? Is it just shown here on this site as Peas? Thanks, Adam. 11 Sep 18, Mike (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Chick peas plant winter early spring. If it becomes hot mulch the soil. Look up on the internet. 18 Aug 18, Jane (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Re: lower stalk and leaves of climbing Alderman peas. The lower leaves are going yellow and look as if they are dying and the very bottom of the stalks on two look dried up compared to a couple of smaller plants that still look a softer fleshy green. Are they dying or thirsty or lacking something or other or is this a normal process for the pea plant? Thanx. 13 Jul 19, Anne (Australia – temperate climate) I would look at the ph level (acidity /alkalinity) of the soil. Peas like soil on the alkaline side which is why they say to put some lime in the soil before planting. A little ph test kit is a good investment and can save you a lot of disappointment and money from plants dropping dead because the soil is wrong for them. Garden veg also need good drainage. If soil is a bit boggy, hill it up and plant in the higher part. 11 Aug 18, Judith peters (Australia – temperate climate) Can anyone tell me where i can buy fresh peas in pods to cook, can’t find them these days 12 Aug 18, (Australia – sub-tropical climate) Ask at your green grocers or supermarkets. If not much demand for them then they won’t supply them. Grow them your self – easy to grow. Showing 1 – 10 of 88 comments

Harvesting Peas: Tip On How And When To Pick Peas

Your peas are growing and have produced a good crop. You may be wondering when to pick peas for the best flavor and long-lasting nutrients. Learning when to harvest peas isn’t difficult. A combination of planting time, growing conditions and type of pea leads to picking peas at the best time.

How to Harvest Peas

Both tender hulls and seeds of peas are edible. Tender, edible pods come from the early harvest. Learning how to harvest pea seeds and how to harvest pea pods is a matter of timing and which part of the vegetable you prefer to use.

  • Sugar snap pea varieties should be tender, with immature seeds, when harvesting peas for pods.
  • Snow peas are ready for harvest when pods are developed, before pea seeds appear.
  • Garden (English) peas, grown for seeds, should be developed but still hold tender peas when harvesting.

Begin checking the peas at the appropriate date after planting and begin harvesting peas that are the most mature.

Harvesting peas for edible pods can occur as early as 54 days after planting if you’ve planted an early variety. When harvesting for pea pods, you can harvest when the pods are flat but at the right length for your variety of peas. When to pick peas is determined by what you want from the pea. If you prefer edible hulls with developed seeds, allow more time before picking peas.

When you are picking peas for the pea seeds, pods should be plump and have a swollen appearance. Check a few of the biggest pods randomly to see if they are the size you want. This, in combination with the number of days since planting, guides you on how to harvest pea seeds.

Once you’ve started harvesting peas, check them daily. When to harvest peas a second time depends on their growth, which can vary by the outdoor temperature. Some more peas may be ready for the second harvest in a day or two. The time frame for the entire pea harvest usually lasts one to two weeks if all peas were planted at the same time. Harvest as many times as needed to remove all peas from the vines. Successive plantings allow a continuing supply of seeds and hulls ready to harvest.

Now that you’ve learned how to harvest pea pods and seeds, try a crop of this nutritious vegetable. Check the seed packet for harvest times, mark it on the calendar and keep an eye on your crop for early development, particularly during optimum growing conditions.

After harvesting peas, place the unused pea hulls and foliage in the compost pile or turn under into the growing patch. These are nitrogen rich and provide nutrients far superior to chemical fertilizers in the soil.

Sweet Peas – Key Growing Information

DAYS TO GERMINATION: 14-21 days at 55-65°F (13-18°C). Presoak seed for 24 hours in room temperature water prior to planting to aid germination.
SOWING: Direct seed (recommended) — Sow 4-5 weeks before the last frost, 2-3 seeds 6″ apart, 1/4- 1/2″ deep. Darkness is required for germination. Thin to 6″ apart when true leaves appear. Transplant — Sow 4-6 weeks before planting out. Sow into cell packs, 2 seeds directly into each cell or 3-4″ container, 1/4- 1/2″ deep. Keep soil surface moist until emergence. Thin to one plant when the true leaves appear. Transplant outside as soon as the soil can be worked. Seedlings won’t be damaged by a late frost.
GROWING ON: Mulch to keep the roots cool. Pinch when 6-8″ tall to encourage denser branching and more flowers. Cutting flowers increases bloom.
SOIL REQUIREMENTS: Rich, deep, loamy, moist, well-drained soil.
PLANT HEIGHT: Varies. Trellising is needed.
HARVEST: Harvest when half the flowers on a stem are open.
VASE LIFE: 4-6 days. Sweet Peas do not store well, but if necessary store at a temperature of 36-39°F (2-4°C), providing at least 12 hours of light per day.
USES: Cut flower, back of borders, fences, trellises, arbors, and cottage gardens.
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Lathyrus odoratus

Sure, frozen peas will get you a spring fix during the colder months. But there’s something so life-affirming about opening up a fresh, crisp pod and sliding out the brilliantly green, tender peas with your thumbs. From herb-packed sauces to vibrantly green cocktails to a mashed toast topping, peas are spring’s little green gifts—and are more versatile than you think.

Fresh English peas should have bright-green pods and a fresh, sweet flavor. A mealy texture means they’re past their prime. Choose pods that swell with their contents, and avoid pre-shelled. Choose sugar snap peas with firm, crisp pods; small scars are okay. Snow peas should be crisp, bright green and have small seeds. Choose fresh, bright-looking sprouts and tendrils that aren’t wilted or yellow.

Keep English peas, sugar snaps, and snow peas in the coolest part of the fridge, wrapped tightly in plastic. Wrap sprouts and tendrils in plastic with a little air trapped inside. Eat peas, sugar snaps, sprouts, and tendrils within a day or two of buying them.

Get cooking! Here are our favorite ways to eat (and drink) our peas.


Peas are a member of the Legume family (alongside beans and lentils) and are said to be one of the earliest vegetables grown. Fresh peas are a very popular vegetable but have a short season.The majority of peas grown in Ireland are sent for processing. They are rich in good quality protein and carbohydrate and are therefore used in many vegetarian dishes as a meat substitute. They are also a good source of fibre, Vitamins A and C, folic acid, phosphorus and iron.

Nutritional Information

Nutrient Raw Cooked
Energy kJ 344 329
Kcal 83 79
Protein g 6.9 6.7
Carbohydrate g 11.3 10
Fat g 1.5 1.6

Preparing and Using

If buying peas, they should be as fresh as possible. In top condition, the pods should be bright green, the more withered the pod, the longer they have been stored incorrectly.Before cooking peas they will need to be shelled. Then they can be cooked in a pan of rapidly boiling water with some mint. .Don’t overcook peas, as they will lose their colour and flavour, and some of their nutrients. They can be blanched and refreshed to use in salads.

One of the first recipes for peas was “petits pois à la française” (peas cooked with small hearted lettuce), which is still a popular dish. Peas are also used in many Indian dishes and vegetarian recipes. They are also used to make soup – minted or with bacon, for example. They can be used in stir-fries and curries, stews and casseroles.

Flavours and ingredients that go well with peas include orange, lemon, mint, lettuce, spinach,wine, bacon, Indian spices, Thai spices and cream.

Sugar snap peas are in season. We have recipes

What’s in season: Often referred to as just “sugar peas,” sugar snap peas are known for their sweet and bright but delicate flavor and great crunch. The peas are a cross between the English pea and the snow pea developed by a plant breeder named Calvin Lamborn in the 1970s. And, they’re a cook’s dream: You can eat the peas, pod and all — no shucking required. Sugar snap peas are normally in season from late winter through the end of spring.

12 recipes for sugar snap peas >>

What to cook: Very little, if anything, needs to be done to sugar snap peas. Coarsely chop the pods or serve them whole in salads, or blanch the pods to retain their crunch and bring out their vibrant color. Puree the peas for a simple soup or use them as a last-minute addition to stews or pasta dishes. Sauté the pods with garlic or fresh herbs, or simply steam them for a quick side dish.

What’s on the horizon: You can still find plenty of citrus at the markets, with varieties of grapefruit, normally in season from late winter through early summer. Green garlic is also turning up at select stands.



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