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A pea is the small, edible round green bean which grows in a pod on the leguminous vine Pisum sativum. This legume is cooked as a vegetable in many cultures. Several other seeds of the family Fabaceae, most of them round, are also called peas; this article deals with the species Pisum sativum and its cultivars. The pea plant is an annual plant, with a lifecycle of a year.
Fresh peas are often eaten boiled and flavored with butter and/or spearmint as a side dish vegetable. Fresh peas are also used in pot pies, salads and casseroles. Pod peas (particularly sweet varieties called mangetout and sugar peas) are used in stir fried dishes. Pea pods do not keep well once picked, and if not used quickly are best preserved by drying, canning or freezing within a few hours of harvest.
Dried peas are often made into a soup or simply eaten on their own. In Japan and other East Asian countries including Thailand, Taiwan and Malaysia, the peas are roasted and salted, and eaten as snacks. In the UK, marrowfat peas are used to make pease pudding (or "pease porridge"), a traditional dish. In North America a similarly traditional dish is split pea soup.
In the United Kingdom, dried, rehydrated and mashed marrowfat peas, known by the public as mushy peas, are popular, originally in the north of England but now ubiquitously, and especially as an accompaniment to fish and chips or meat pies, particular in chippies or fish and chip shops. Sodium bicarbonate is sometimes added to soften the peas. In 2005, a poll of 2,000 people revealed the pea to be Britain's 7th favourite culinary vegetable.
Processed peas are mature peas which have been dried, soaked and then heat treated (processed) to prevent spoilage - in the same manner as pasteurising.
Cooked peas are sometimes sold dried and coated with wasabi as a spicy snack.
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