The common garden pea, also known simply as green pea. But there's nothing common about its flavor, particularly during the peak months of March, April and May and again from August to November. The French are famous for their tiny, young green peas known as petits pois. Choose peas that have plump, unblemished, bright green pods; the peas inside should be glossy, crunchy and sweet. Because peas begin the sugar-to-starch conversion process the moment they're picked, it's important to buy them as fresh as possible. Refrigerate peas in their pods in a plastic bag for no more than 2 to 3 days. Shell just before using. Both English peas and the French petits pois are available frozen and canned. Peas are a fair source of vitamins A and C, as well as niacin and iron. See also pea; legume.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.