Peas and beans can be underestimated for what they actually are and how many there actually are… you may have been misled into thinking that you can just get regular peas, broad beans, runner beans, french beans, and the occasional sugarsnap or mangetout pea if you believe your local supermarket. Let's add to the mix string or snap beans, green beans, dwarf beans, climbing beans, soya beans, mung beans, beansprouts, kidney beans, Lima beans, jack beans, haricot beans, cocoa beans, coffee beans, lentils, pulses, and if you want to go exotic, try the asparagus pea…
From that list you can probably guess they're not just used for eating - chocolate and coffee being two other big uses; peas and beans have been a staple part of people's diets back as far as ancient Egypt; they're popularity due in no small part to their fantastic taste and excellent nutritional value (typically beans and peas are high in protein, low in fat and high in potassium).
They can be used fresh or dried, the pods or seeds can be eaten, and the flowers are nice and decorative too. If being grown in the home garden and treated properly, beans and peas will crop for months on end if cropped gradually as the pods ripen.
You may think "well all those beans and peas kinda look the same…"; so try some blue beans, or purple, or red or yellow… there really is a huge variety in the pea and bean family, which you'll find out more about in the individual articles.
- Peas - Who hasn't, as a child, spent countless hours sat at the table podding fresh peas for Sunday dinner?
- French Beans - French beans - not always french, and not always green!