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Amy Eddings' Food for Thought: No Pea Shoots? Grow Your Own

Friday, May 27, 2011

We talked about pea shoots in this week's edition of Last Chance Foods, and I have to admit, I've never eaten them. And I'm not noticing them at my farmers' market in Fort Greene Park. Nor have I ever seen them in the supermarket.

Shauna Reid's suggestion? Grow your own. 

I found Reid's post about growing pea shoots in her Diet Girl blog. She makes it look super simple.

Toss a handful of dried peas in an old yogurt container filled with potting soil. (Punch some drainage holes in the bottom first.) Cover with about an inch or two of additional soil. Keep it moist, and cool. (Reid's in Scotland, so that part is easy.) And in two to three weeks, presto! The container bristles with tender pea leaves and tendrils — a "pea afro," as Reid called it, ready for nibbling.

"I'm not a big pea person, but this is like lettuce with a spring-like taste," Reid told me by phone, from Edinborough. "The shoots taste like peas, but in a lighter, fresher way — very delicate."

She initially was interested in growing snap and snow peas for their peas, not for their leafy parts. But she was put off by the need to stake or trellis the plants.

Then she noticed pea shoots ... and their price tag.

"I've seen pea shoots in the supermarket," she said — lucky her! — "and they cost about two pounds for this little tiny bag. I couldn't bring myself to buy it."

But, emboldened by a BBC television program called "The Edible Garden," Reid started growing peas instead. She uses ordinary, dried peas from the supermarket.

Brooklyn gardener Cathy Erway gave a little gasp when I asked her about grocery store peas. Erway, who's growing snap and snow peas on the roof of Sixpoint Brewery, in Red Hook, said she preferred ordering seeds from places like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Seed Savers Exchange.

Or, to continue the D.I.Y. theme, she suggested foraging for the seeds yourself.

"At this time of year, you can grab some snap peas and take out the peas and plant them," said Erway. "I did that with okra last year."

I like Shauna Reid's chutzpah, though, and her resourcefulness: ordinary supermarket peas, in old yogurt containers, grown on your windowsill. It's a great way to demystify something that can be hard to find, or quite costly.

Are you growing pea shoots? Have you found a great place to buy them? Let me know, and fast!  The season for pea shoots is growing shorter as the days grow longer.

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Comments [1]

linnet9 from south of England

I am reading a 1950s book on rural Suffolk wherein then "ancients", like me, were recording their experiences & recollections in farming about 1900. It was fascinatingly different from what I had known in Perthshire post WW11. Pease turning had been part of the contract work . I picked up on the word pease and from there got onto a miriad of thoughts bringing me desperately, to the internet. I found you for one and can tell you pea shoots have been found in supermarkets in Hants& Surrey this year tho I think they were imported from mainland Europe.
In Scotland in the 1950s a cannery got peas for canning after they had been beaten from the pea plants complete with peas and freshly harvested, leaving a stinking pulp. This form of obtaining peas was presumably in response to having machinery. I now wonder what was the pease the women once turned in the fields. Was it the complete plant which would allow the removal of the peas from the dry plants?
I'll stop at that but somewhere a lively discussion could ensue on the topic and another might be beer in agriculture for in my book an arduous day, requiring all but the labouring men, to give up a complete day (NO SCHOOL!!) to make the beer which provided sustenance for many, thanks to the women's contribution which started with their having fresh yeast at the ready....back to the book now.

Dec. 04 2011 03:21 AM

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