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 plant category, a group of vining plants that grow low to the ground, they are members of 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 late spring 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. Snow peas have flat pods that are unripe, with an 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 snaps 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, the entire pod is puffier and crunchier with a more fibrous pod 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 type of peas have edible pods and the whole pod can be consumed . There are subtle differences. Snow peas have a flatter pod while sugar snap peas have a puffier, more substantial pod.
- The main difference in Snow peas is that they have a less sweet flavor than sugar snap peas, instead tasting fresh and vegetal. They’re most frequently used in Asian dishes and stir fry and are sometimes referred to as Chinese pea pods.
- 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 as great additions to 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 tough string from the seams of the pods 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, both varieties of peas have a very similar flavor 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 have identical nutritional profiles and do not have any major differences. They have health benefits similar to other vegetables.
As you can see, it’s easy to differentiate between snow peas and sugar snap peas as types of garden 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 types of fresh peas are practically interchangeable.