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Sugar snap peas are a cool-season vegetable grown in many parts of the world. This crop grows as a vine, and has small round leaves along with pale white flowers that appear in spring. These flowers eventually develop pods that are somewhat flat, rounded on one side, and 3 to 4 inches (7.62 to 10.16 cm) long. Unlike other varieties of peas, the entire pod is harvested and eaten without being shelled. These pods are often used in Chinese cooking, but can also be steamed or eaten raw.
Growing sugar snap peas can usually be accomplished in early to mid-spring in most regions. This can be done by sowing the seeds in the ground or by starting seeds indoors six to eight weeks before the final frost. Young plants normally have clusters containing four or five light-green colored leaves. The stems of the plant are also light green but very thick because the plant grows upward. This means a trellis or tall wooden pole must be used in order to support this crop.
Tall white flowers normally develop along the stems in late spring or early summer. The flowers are a single petal which may appear to be folded in half in some cases. These blossoms tend to have very long and thin stems which allow them to stand straight up along the vine as it is growing.
Sugar snap peas develop pods which may be harvested and eaten. These pods are also light green in color and tend to have a very waxy skin. When viewed from the side, these pods tend to form the shape of an arc as they are typically straight on one side and very rounded on the other. This vegetable is normally around 3 to 4 inches (7.62 to 10.16 cm) long when fully mature. They are mostly flat because the seeds inside are very small and do not normally cause the casings to become plump as they mature.
This vegetable has a very sweet taste, and is also somewhat crispy. It is most often used in stir-fry dishes along with broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, and water chestnuts. The pods can also be steamed and eaten as a side dish along with beef or pork. They may also be eaten raw, and can even be added to garden salads. Although sugar snap peas taste best when they are freshly picked, they can also be frozen in order to preserve them for later use.
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