Perfect Snap Peas – and a Perfect Harvest Basket
The peas are something I’ve taken for granted for a long time now, because classic Sugar Snaps never seem to fail. Good years and bad, those tall, late-bearing vines always come through with about 6 weeks of perfect snap peas: crisp, juicy and sweet. And twenty feet of double row pretty much guarantees enough. In good years, we give a lot away, and even in poor years like this one we still have plenty. How much is plenty? I never measured before, but we just had an opportunity to check it out – The pile in the bowl accumulated over the 4 days we were down in New York ( 4 days during which I expected Lois and Jeff would be picking peas but they weren’t). Total is almost 7 pounds. Real point of this story? Daily harvesting makes all the difference. Only a handful of pods were too old to be worth keeping, but about a third of them were merely wonderful instead of exquisite. “Picked at the Moment of Perfection” is a cliche for a reason. This doesn’t look like 7 pounds of peas because the basket is so big. It’s also the perfect shape for gathering almost anything that doesn’t crush. Being much deeper than a classic trug, it need not be nearly as wide, and because of the bowl shape it’s much easier to carry when full. I line it with a folded tea towel when harvesting summer squash, so the wicker doesn’t mar that very delicate skin. And I use a hand towel when both squash and tomatoes are ready. One end of the towel hangs outside the basket as squash is gathered; then it’s folded over to be more cushioning. The tomatoes rest on top, gently cradled by the rim.