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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
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FOOD FUN: Purple Snow Peas

Purple snow peas are relatively new to the marketplace, and may give some people a double take. Simply, they are snow peas bred to have a deep purple skin instead of the original green one.

The Shiraz pea variety was first developed in the United Kingdom in the early 2000s; the Midnight Snow and Sugar Magnolia varieties originated in the United States around the same time. However, there’s always a considerable lag to market, as breeders perfect the new produce and produce enough quantities for commercial introduction.

The snow pea—purple, green or otherwise—grows in cooler climates, and has a peak season from mid-fall and throughout the winter months. Purple is a fun change from green snow peas, for recipes, salads or just plain snacking.

Similar to their green siblings, purple snow peas have a slightly sweet flavor and a crunchy, meaty texture and are the same size as conventional snow peas—two to three inches in length. The pod encases petite, flat, green peas. Once the inner peas become visible through the skin, the snow pea is at its best eating quality.

Purple snow peas can be used raw or cooked, in any recipe that calls for conventional snow peas:


Fun food: purple snow peas. Photo courtesy, which used them in a colorful pasta salad.

  • Serve them as a side, along or in a vegetable medley.
  • Use them in stir-fries, curries and fried rice.
  • Showcase their vibrant color in salads and on crudité platters.
  • Turn them into hors d’oeuvre, sliced lengthwise and stuffed with crab or other salad or seasoned soft cheese.
    The purple skin will turn dark green if steamed or boiled for too long. To preserve the bright purple hue, stick to quick cooking methods such as blanching and sautéeing.


    Yes, it’s real: purple snow peas. Photo



    These recipes are from, which sells exotic produce including purple snow peas.

  • Asian Slaw (recipe)
  • Asian Vegetable Salad (recipe)
  • Baby Summer Squash & Snow Pea Stir-Fry (recipe)
  • Chinese Vegetable Medley (recipe)
  • Ginger Chicken With Snow Peas (recipe)
  • Orange Glazed Snow Peas & Carrots (recipe)
  • Portobello Mushroom & Snow Peas Stir-Fry (recipe)
  • Savoy Cabbage Asian Slaw (recipe)
  • Stir-Fried Chicken, Snow Peas & Bamboo Shoots (recipe)
  • Stir-Fry Vegetables with Snow Peas (recipe)
  • Vegetable Stir Fry (recipe)


    The purple snow pea is a member of the Fabaceae family, commonly known as the legume, pea or bean family. The species is Pisum sativum, which includes all peas. The purple snow pea is Pisum sativum var. macrocarpon; the green variety is Pisum sativum var. saccharatum.

    Snow peas, along with sugar snap peas, have edible pods. By contrast, the pods of field peas and garden peas are made of inedible fiber, requiring the peas to be shelled.

    While thought of as a vegetable, botanically speaking peas are a fruit:

  • The plants blossom prior to producing a pea pod.
  • The seeds are contained within (as are the seeds within a conventional fruit, such as an apple, cherry or citrus fruit).
    Purple snow peas contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are provide the vibrant coloring. Anthocyanins provide the blue, purple or red coloration in flowers, fruits, leaves, roots and stems. (For detail geeks: the color depends on the pH of the plant.)

    A member of the powerful flavonoid antioxidant group, anthocyanins been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties which boost the immune system and can help aid in the prevention of certain cancers. And they’re very low in calories.

    So: Eat up!


    Related Food Videos: For more food videos, check out The Nibble's Food Video Collection.

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