Saturday, 19 June 2010
Norli Snow Peas
There are at least 2 snow peas out there being sold as "Norli", so it seems. The only one I have ever gotten is this one; a short (2 to 3 foot) bush pea with white flowers tinged with green. There's quite a number of gardeners though who think Norli ought to be a tall vine with purple flowers.
Our seed came from William Dam, and they describe it as a very early Dutch variety. Indeed it is; or at least I can attest to the very early part. Two feet is the advertised height, but ours are rather taller, although that was their height to the inch when they first started producing peas. We are supporting them with some otherwise rather useless foot-high wire edging fence left by the previous owners of the property and it seems to be (barely) sufficient. An assortment of tallish sticks stuck in the ground would probably have been better. We also planted them too close together - we're not getting too many peas forming in the middle of that mass.
As with all snow peas, they are picked when the pods are still flat but have achieved a reasonable size; about 3" in length. Do not let the peas fill out; they will get tough and if you leave them unpicked too long the plants will assume their reproductive duty is done and stop producing any more peas.
Next year I would like to try starting them in a cold frame to see if we can get even earlier peas. Because they are so short, I would think we could have planted them a good three weeks earlier then when we did. We planted them on April 5th and we have been picking them for about a week now.
So, how are they as peas? They are nice peas, mild and sweet. We find them a tad bland perhaps; there are better tasting snow peas in my opinion. However they are good enough! Especially when we can see we won't have any other snow peas producing for at least three weeks yet. And if we can get them to grow those extra three weeks earlier, I will be more than ecstatic to have them.
To prepare snow peas, pinch off the stem end with the sepals , using your thumbnail. Leave the pinched-off bit attached at the top (concave) side of the pea. Pull off the sepal end, which will either come right off, or which will pull along the top of the pea where it was still attached, removing a tough stringy bit from the pea, if there is a tough stringy bit to be removed. Norli really shouldn't really have much of this; they are a nicely tender pea. Older varieties may very well have that tough string though.
If your peas are young and tender you can eat them raw. They are always delicious steamed or stir fried, hot or cold. However you cook them, do it very briefly. Two or three minutes of cooking will suffice.