Differences Between Peas and Beans

Dan This Land of Ours, Vegetables

In today’s program, Cathy Isom reviews some of the differences between peas and beans. That’s coming up on This Land of Ours.

Peas and beans do look very similar and fall under the general seed family, but they aren’t the same. Peas are generally round while beans have a wider variety of shapes. Color also varies considerably with non-pea beans. Peas don’t usually vary that much in color – they’re mostly green. The stem of a pea plant is typically hollow, while beans have a solid stem structure.

Arguably the biggest growing difference – and the most important for gardeners – involves the temperature requirements of each plant. Beans typically prefer hot, summer weather. They’re extremely frost sensitive and fail to produce when nighttime temperatures drop significantly. Peas, on the other hand, grow best in cooler temperatures.

In the kitchen, there’s a marked difference between how beans and peas are handled. Peas being more delicate are usually frozen because they spoil a lot faster than beans. Beans, like kidney and pinto beans, require a long cooking period once harvested. They’re preserved by drying and require an even longer cooking time once dried. Beans can also be eaten fresh or dried, though they should be cooked thoroughly as some beans contain toxins which affect the digestive system (kidney beans in particular). Some peas, on the other hand, are delicious eaten raw—snap and English peas in particular.

I’m Cathy Isom…