Plants in the legume family develop their seeds in pods. When the pod is split in half, the seeds remain attached to one half of the pod. Many peas and beans, members of the legume family, originated in Asia. Legumes are rich in protein and carbohydrates, and are low in fat. They're also rich in vitamins B and C. Legumes come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, and are available fresh, canned or dried.
Chinese Long Bean, Yard Long Bean, Asparagus Bean
The Chinese Long Bean (also known as Yard Long Bean and Asparagus Bean) is a cousin to the black-eyed pea, but is more of a climber. The pods of the Chinese Long Bean can grow 12 to 30 inches long. The pods are best when picked at maximum length when they are smooth and before maturity. At this young age the beans can be snapped and cooked in a variety of ways.
Hyacinth or Lablab Bean
The Lablab bean is a twisting vine with pretty purple flowers, leaflets that grow in threes, and pods. The bean pods are as showy as the flowers due to their bright purple color. The beans inside are dark colored and scarred on the edge where it was attached to the pod. Young pods can be eaten like green beans. They have a heavy flavor and can be mixed with other beans or vegetables. The young leaves can be eaten in salads, and the older leaves can be cooked and eaten like spinach.
Sugar Snap Peas
Garden peas are a cool-season vegetable, with either smooth or wrinkled seeds. The wrinkled seed types are usually sweeter. Sugar snap peas come from garden peas that have lower fiber pods, which can be snapped and eaten with the peas inside. They should be picked every one to three days. Snap peas are best when the pods first start to fatten but before they get too big. Snap peas left on the vine too long must be shelled, and the shell discarded rather than eaten.
This variety is picked before the pods have reached their full length and while still flat. This is about five to seven days after flowering. Snow peas must be picked frequently to guarantee sweet fiber-free peas. If left too long, fibers can develop along the pods. The peas that have grown too big inside the shells can be removed and eaten as garden peas. The pods should be discarded. Overgrown pods should be removed right away to ensure the plants will continue to produce new pods. Snow pea pods can be refrigerated in plastic bags for a couple of weeks and still remain fresh.