snow peas & shell peas

(Question)

Hi,
This is my first time planting peas. And I decided to try all three: dwarf shell pea, snow pea, and tall snap pea.
The problem is I couldn’t tell the difference between the shell pea and the snow pea. I planted them side by side… The shell pea is earlier than the snow pea. So I thought I mixed up the seeds when planting. Then I picked what looked like a snow pea, but it’s stringy.. I was then told the young shell pea look exactly like a snow pea…
Is there any way to differentiate them before biting into them?

(Answer)

Rest assured, you are not the first person to have planted these two close enough together to experience this problem! It is a bit of a challenge at the early stage of growth. 

One clue is the thickness of the pod skin. Snow peas have flat pods with thin skin. As you know, the snap peas develop round meaty pods, with thick, juicy skin. You may be able to tell the difference by the skin, therefore. There are sometimes two strings to be removed on sugar snap peas (one on each side of pod), whereas snow peas have just one. You may be able to observe these strings developing and tell the difference that way, depending on variety. (Note that there are also stringless sugar snaps, so if that’s what you planted, the difference will be clear.)

The good news is that sugar snaps can be used just like snow peas in the early stages. So if determining the difference is too difficult, this year you might just declare them all snow peas and enjoy them that way. 

Next year, make sure to plant them well apart! Or, if your space is limited, you can choose to plant only sugar snaps and just pick some of them earlier at the “snow pea” stage of maturity.

Whatever you decide, enjoy the peas … one of the best fresh flavours of summer!