The terms snap peas and snow peas are often used interchangeably, but there are significant differences in flavor and texture. While both grow in edible pods that are sweet and tender, they differ in appearance. According to the University of Minnesota Extension, snow peas are flat and eaten when the peas first begin to form. Snap peas, however, are closer in appearance to the shelling pea. Snap peas are round, crisp and juicy and snap much like a green bean when young.
Observe snap peas closely once peas begin to form inside the pod. Check daily and taste test for sweetness and tenderness.
Allow peas to form fully inside the pods before harvesting. Pods should be round and plump with tender full-sized peas. Although the pod is crisp and tender before peas form, young peas enhance the flavor.
Harvest in the morning when temperatures are cool. Pick the pods from the vine, by holding the vine with one hand and gently tugging the pod free. Use care not to damage the vines.
Wash the pods under cold water to remove dirt or garden residue, and use in your favorite recipes. Refrigerate fresh picked peas for several days. According to Ohio State University, snap peas should be frozen as soon after harvest as possible to preserve flavor.
Harvest snap peas every other day for the most flavorful peas.