|Pea protein is on-trend for 2017. We're delighted that the sustainability benefits of vegetable protein and the naturally high levels in dried peas (rather than fresh or frozen) are being recognised but believe that minimally processed whole peas, split peas and pea flour have most to offer both nutritionally and for their taste and versatility.
Suddenly pea protein is all the rage. In a pun-filled recent article – "Give peas a chance: why pea protein is leading the whey" – the Guardian last week reported that pea protein is one of the leading food trends for 2017.
It's good to see this overdue recognition of the benefits of the naturally high level of protein in dried peas, which are typically 20% or more protein by weight, just like beans, lentils, chickpeas and other pulses. Vegetable protein is healthier, more nutritious and more sustainable than animal protein. And natural food sources of vegetable protein are generally much cheaper than the meat and dairy products that provide animal protein.
In Britain we generally think of peas as fresh or frozen green peas but dried peas are among our most traditional foods and are nutritionally - and gastronomically - superior to their fresh siblings.
Fresh peas are picked immature, when they're temptingly sweet and succulent but before the proteins and other nutrients have fully developed. Dried peas are left to ripen, mature and dry before harvest (they're naturally dried while still on the plant), by which time the protein content has both increased and improved in quality, much of the sugar has turned to more complex carbohydrates, and there's much more fibre, vitamins and minerals.
While fresh or frozen peas are an appealingly sweet fresh vegetable, dried peas offer far greater variety and versatility in the kitchen. British farmers like Mark Lea at Green Acres Farm grow a wide range of dried peas including yellow, blue, greenish marrowfat and red-brown carlin peas. We clean them up after harvest and sell them as whole peas, split peas, pea flour and roasted snack peas.
In the kitchen dried peas can be used for dhal, soups, stews, curries, chillis, salads, dips or or even cakes and brownies. Not to mention pease pudding and pottage, daily staples of our ancestors. Pea flour is wonderfully versatile, making wonderful pastry, pancakes and breads, as well as the best gravy we've tasted.
The Guardian's article focused on processed pea products such as pea milk, purified pea protein powders and artificial "meat" concocted from ingredients including pea protein isolates. It pointed out that the problem with purified pea protein is that many of the other nutrients are lost.
We at Hodmedod prefer to get our pea protein from the complete pea, sometimes with just the skin removed to produce split peas, pea flour or roasted snack peas. At 20% there's still plenty of protein in the peas, along with plenty of healthy fibre (about 40%) and micro-nutrients like thiamin, folate, potassium and manganese.
We've been eating dried peas in Britain for at least 4,000 years. It's fantastic to see them coming back into fashion.
Comments will be approved before showing up.
Chef James Taylor has been working since mid 2023 to transform school meals initiatives at two London primary schools - Sir Thomas Abney School in Stoke Newington and Harrington Hill Primary School in Clapton. The London Mayor's initiative to provide universal free school meals in primary schools from September 2023 is both a crucial lifeline for families nit by the cost-of-living crisis and an inspiration for change. James and the school have used this opportunity to provide meals that champion more nutritious, planet-friendly food.
A few years ago we were looking for a sweetner for some granola recipes, something UK produced and minimally processed. When our apple syrup order from Liberty Fields arrived we knew we were onto something special - we quickly added them to our short list of brilliant Guest Producers
We've launched ten pulses and grains from British farms as part of Holland & Barrett's transformation of their food range, available in their stores across the UK. It's a fantastic opportunity to make British-grown fava beans, carlin peas and quinoa, along with other pulses and cereals, available more widely and to support more diverse farming.