Here's a great leisure activity. Don't we all yearn for a lazy afternoon with nothing more important to do than shell peas? Even daughter got into the act, learning how to use the point of a paring knife to neatly split the pod in two. You can do the same thing with your fingernails--if you have long fingernails. I prefer the knife.
The best peas are still sweet, meaning before the pod begins to turn from deep green to a dirty yellow. As the pod changes color, it becomes papery and more easily opened to reveal the peas. But by that time the peas have begun to toughen and turn their sugar into starch, preparing to become next season's seeds.
This is an English variety of shelling pea--Wando. The pods are inedible. Pick them when they're plump and green.
At this point the peas are plump and flavorful, practically bursting from their pods. It's a gratifying feeling, opening pods of peas like this knowing they were grown right in front of our house in the District of Columbia, about a mile from the White House.
Ours is not a perfect climate for English peas. Spring gets hot and humid early around here, and that's when fungi start attacking the pea plants.
Last night we had our peas again with pasta and cream sauce. That's the last of that, says the wife. Too much fat in the cream to eat on a regular basis. Our only disappointment is that we don't have more peas. I could easily live with a garden full of peas. We could pick them all day and freeze them for later.
We'll just have to plant a bigger crop in the fall.