By Erin Marissa Russell
Snow peas and sugar snap peas are used in many of the same recipes and may seem to be almost identical at first glance. However, the more carefully these two spring vegetables are examined, the more differences present themselves to help you distinguish them from one another.
Snow Peas Versus Sugar Snap Peas: Botany
- Both snow peas and sugar snap peas belong to the pea category, a group of vining plants that grow low to the ground from the legume family that produces pea pods (the fruit of the plant) filled with individual peas (the seeds of the plant).
- Snow peas and sugar snap peas share the same peak growing season—from the end of springtime through the middle of summer.
Snow Peas Versus Sugar Snap Peas: Appearance
- Unlike English peas, both snow peas and sugar snap peas are consumed along with their pea pods. In snow peas, the pod is unripe, with a flat shape and almost translucent coloring. You can see the shapes of the peas inside the pod and can tell that they haven’t yet developed a completely spherical form at the time that snow peas are consumed.
- Sugar snap peas are a result of crossing the snow peas we’ve already described with English peas, which have a sweeter flavor and a more substantial pod. The resulting hybrid, the sugar snap pea, has the best of both worlds, with a pod that’s puffier and has more fiber and crunch than the pod of a snow pea but is edible, unlike the pod of the English pea. When sugar snap peas are eaten, the peas inside the pod tend to be more rounded and fully developed than they are in snow peas.
Snow Peas Versus Sugar Snap Peas: Taste
- Both snow peas and sugar snap peas are consumed whole and inside their pods, although snow peas are flatter while sugar snap peas have a puffier, more substantial pod.
- Snow peas have a less sweet flavor than sugar snap peas, instead tasting fresh and vegetal. They’re most frequently used in Asian dishes and stir-fries.
- Because sugar snap peas come from crossing snow peas with English peas, they’re not quite as sweet as English peas, but they do have a remarkably sweet flavor as compared to snow peas. Sugar snap peas are used in many of the same types of recipes as snow peas, but they’re also more likely to be enjoyed raw—for instance, in a salad or eaten whole as a snack.
- Unless your sugar snap peas are one of the new “stringless” varieties, you will likely need to remove the pesky string before consuming them. Just tug on either end of the pea pod to remove the string from sugar snap peas.
- While sugar snap peas are just a bit sweeter than snow peas, the two vegetables have very similar flavors and can be substituted for one another in recipes without a problem.
Snow Peas Versus Sugar Snap Peas: Nutrition
- Unlike many of the foods we’ve examined in these articles, snow peas and sugar snap peas share identical nutrition information and do not have any major differences.
As you can see, it’s easy to differentiate between snow peas and sugar snap peas. Because sugar snap peas were crossed with English peas, their pod is more substantial, the peas are more developed at harvest time, and they have a sweeter flavor. In most other ways, these two vegetables are practically interchangeable.