Snap To It
It’s hard to imagine a world without the sugar snap pea, isn’t it? Their delicious crunchiness. Their sweet, eat-the-whole-bag in one sitting addictiveness. The truth is, sugar snap peas are a mere 38 years young. Wonder Bread has been around longer.
It turns out that the invention of the sugar snap pea was a bit of an accident. In 1969, a young plant breeder named Calvin Lamborn was given the task of creating a snow pea with straighter and smoother pods. Through traditional cross breeding (think using a pair of tweezers to painstakingly move pollen from one plant variety to another, then replanting the seeds successfully for generations to achieve desired traits), Lamborn spotted a rogue offspring with a thicker pod than regular peas. Suspecting that a more sturdy pod could yield a straighter, smoother snow pea, he singled it out. Years later, instead of a better snow pea he had an entirely new product altogether: the sugar snap.
In 1979, the first commercial sugar snap pea was introduced. It became an immediate hit, making the covers of seed catalogs, winning awards, and earning Lamborn the title “Snap Pea Sensei.” James Beard wrote glowingly of the new vegetable, calling it nothing short of sensational. Today, it is estimated that more than 150 million snap peas are consumed annually around the world.
So how does Mann Packing enter the snap pea picture? In the early 1990s, we began purchasing sugar snap peas for our stir fry
packs from Garden Valley, a Boise-based operation owned by none other than the Snap Pea Sensei himself. Garden Valley had exclusive rights to sugar snap pea varieties that were stringless, sweet and had high yields. As our CEO Lorri Koster loves to tell it, during a meeting one day someone opened a stir fry pack and put it on the conference table. Everyone grabbed the sugar snap peas out of the bag to snack on and left the rest of the ingredients alone. By the end of the meeting it was decided that the sugar snaps deserved a bag all to themselves.
As a stand-alone product, Mann’s Stringless Sugar Snap Peas were so successful that in 2002, we acquired the assets of Garden Valley. Today, Mann Packing is a veritable sugar snap pea powerhouse. We have a dedicated facility designed to keep the peas happy, and it appears to be working. We have over 65% of the market share in the US and more than 90% market share in Canada.
Our Stringless Sugar Snaps are not just a healthy, tasty alternative to junky snacks. They’re a great addition to pasta, in a stir fry, or even pickled. Last week I dipped some in a tempura batter, fried them for a couple of minutes, and served them with a sweet chili dipping sauce. Needless to say, they disappeared extremely quickly here at the office. Check out our video below for more snacking and dip ideas.
On the foodservice end of the spectrum (or the ambitious home cook), the sweetness of sugar snaps lends itself well to the dessert plate. For a pop-up dinner last October, Chicago chef Stephanie Goldfarb used them to create a Snap Pea Baked Alaska with Thai Basil and Almond Pound Cake. Hello, Beautiful!
Endless possibilities. Endless deliciousness. No, we cannot imagine a world without sugar snap peas. #eatgreen
Scallop Fettuccine and Sugar Snap Peas
- 2 cups Mann’s Stringless Sugar Snap Peas
- 1 pound sea scallops
- 8 ounces Fettuccine noodles
- 1 shallot, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, thinly sliced into matchstick-sized pieces
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ½ cup sour cream
- ½ dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, or vegetable oil
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, ground
Cook pasta according to package instructions, adding Mann’s Stringless Sugar Snap Peas and carrots to water during last 3 minutes of cooking. Drain and set aside in large bowl.
Pat scallops dry and season with salt. In large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat until hot. Add scallops and cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes, turning once. Remove scallops to plate; set aside.
In same skillet, heat butter over medium-high heat. Cook and stir shallot 1 minute. Add broth and wine. Bring to a boil; cook uncovered 5 minutes. Stir in sour cream, salt and pepper; whisk until smooth. Add scallops and any liquid on plate; cook until just heated through. Pour sauce and scallops over pasta and vegetables. Toss until most of sauce is absorbed.