The field pea is one of the first crops domesticated by humans. Most (>90%) of the peas produced in Australia are the Dun type, which are a round dimpled seed ranging in colour from green to brown. Australia is the leading producer and exporter of the Dun type of field pea worldwide and current production in Australia is approximately 400,000 tonnes of field pea annually.
There are five main types of peas grown in Australia
- Blackeyed peas are a type of cowpea. They are cream coloured with a black spot.
- Blue peas are round, green peas often used for canned peas.
- Dun peas are dimpled, greenish-brown colour.
- Maple peas are round, with a brown, mottled or speckled outer coat and yellow centre. They are used for stock and bird feed.
- White peas are round, with a white outer coat and yellow inner. They are used as yellow split peas and for pea flour.
Main culinary uses of field peas
- Fresh or frozen green (immature) peas are commonly eaten as a vegetable.
- Split peas – whole peas are split to remove the hard outer coating and then broken into the two parts that naturally occur as parts of the cotyledon. This makes them cook more quickly.
- Dry whole or split peas and are excellent in soups. Whole dry peas require soaking prior to cooking whereas split peas do not.
- Yellow split peas are commonly used in dhal curries.
- Field peas can also be roasted to make a crunchy snack.
A table comparing the nutrient content of different types of legumes can be downloaded here.