FGFP – Describing The Taste(s) of Peas

FGFP stands for Food Gardeners Fine Points and I’m putting pea varieties there because a recent NPR story, Why Supertasters Can’t Get Enough Salt, implied supertasters were the only ones who could taste differences between peas.

Phooey. If you’re any kind of taster at all, you know instantly when snap peas are too young or pod peas are over the hill. And if peas were sold by name, like tomatoes, you’d have little trouble noticing that different varieties have distinct degrees and kinds of sweetness, more and less tenderness, juiciness, grassiness…

And then the words start failing. I can say things like “Early Perfection has a slightly spicy note,”  or “Casselode has old fashioned pea flavor with faint echoes of field peas.” But vegetable-speak has a long way to go before it’s as useful as wine-speak. I’m working on helping the produce catch up, so if you have good ways to describe the many, many tastes of peas, please write and let us know.

varieties of pea vines, side by side

Left to right: Early Perfection, Laxton’s Progress #9, Casselode, Sugar Ann, Gonzo, Sugar Sprint

Can’t expect tasters to know how different the plants themselves look. That’s a treat for gardeners.

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  • Tatiana Said,

    Oh peas. I betcha if I could taste test a couple side by side I could come up with ways to describe them. But you’re totally right, our descriptors are lacking.

    Speaking of that story, I’m likely a supertastes because I do eat a lot of salt, it’s much more of a vice for me than sugar is. I try to mitigate the damage with eating only unrefined sea salt and lots of fermented foods so that it’s not all pure damage.

    So far I’ve only grown two varieties of heirloom peas – the ones last year were fantastic, I think it was a variety called Carlin and this year I planted a Summer Pea. I cannot wait to see if I detect a difference in taste or simply be lost in the delirium of summers first fresh peas.

  • Tatiana Said,

    Oh but perhaps some of the ways to describe them could be simply by association? Like ‘a quintissential summer shelling pea, bursting with sweet freshness like the kind that grew in your grandmothers garden?’ or ‘smooth round peas with sweetness tempered by a grassy note that would be excellent in salads?’

  • Oh, la, and here am I just being amazed to learn of all these different varieties of peas! Thank you for the education, including the great pics showing several different sorts.

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