If you’re wondering what the difference is between split peas and whole dried peas, the following article should help! It covers what they are and their differences in soaking needs, preparation methods, cooking times, texture when cooked, and whether they will sprout. Below is a video covering this topic. The written article is below the video.
Split Green Peas vs Whole Dried Peas: A Comparison
About Dried Peas
Dried green peas are in the same plant family as beans and lentils, but are usually grouped separately since their preparation is different. Whole dried peas and green split peas are from the same plant. Although we usually associate dried peas with being green, there is also a yellow colored variety. The yellow variety has a milder flavor than the green peas.
Researchers have discovered that dried peas have been eaten since prehistoric times. Peas were even mentioned in the Bible. They were prized in ancient civilizations of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. It appears that the Chinese were the first to eat both the seeds and pods as vegetables. Peas were brought to the United States soon after the colonists arrived. Today, the largest producers of peas are Russia, France, China and Denmark.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Peas
Dried peas are small, but mighty when considering their nutritional value. They are rich in fiber, including soluble fiber, which is known to lower cardiovascular disease risks by removing bile (and thereby cholesterol) from the body. They also contain a lot of molybdenum, B-vitamins (folate, Vitamin B1, and pantothenic acid), copper, manganese, protein, phosphorus, and potassium.
In addition to helping to remove cholesterol from the body, the fiber in dried peas helps to prevent constipation, and bowel disorders like irritable bowel syndrome and diverticulosis.
The soluble fiber in peas also helps to stabilize blood sugar. This is especially helpful to people with insulin resistance, hypoglycemia, or diabetes. Legumes like dried peas can help to balance blood sugar levels while providing a steady flow of energy. Studies have shown that diabetics who consumed high fiber diets (of about 50 grams of fiber a day) had lower blood glucose and insulin levels, along with lower levels of blood cholesterol, triglycerides, and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDL). These factors help to improve overall health along with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
What is a split pea?
Split green peas are a field pea variety that is grown specifically for being dried and split. These are different from “garden peas” that are grown to be eaten fresh. Dried peas are used mostly in soups, stews, and casseroles.
Some people wonder if split peas are the same thing as lentils. Even though split peas and lentils are very similar in size and shape, they are not the same thing. They are different varieties of legumes. Split peas are a field pea, grown specifically for drying. Lentils are the dried seed of a different plant. They are not interchangeable legumes.
Split green peas are the same plant as whole dried green peas. The whole peas were not peeled and split before being sold, like the split peas.
Should peas be soaked?
Split Peas. Split peas can be soaked before being cooked, but it’s not mandatory. Most resources don’t suggest soaking split peas.
Whole Dried Peas. Whole dried peas need to be soaked for at least 8 hours or overnight before being cooked.
How to Prepare Peas
Split Peas. To prepare dried split peas, simply sort through the peas to remove any debris. Then rinse them in a colander and transfer them to the cooking pot. Follow your recipe from there. To cook them alone, place your rinsed peas in a pot and cover them with cold water. The usual ratio is 1 cup of peas to 2 or 3 cups of water. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, cover the pot, and allow them to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes, until they are tender. Note that many recipes for split pea soup will require a longer cooking time, making the peas mushy so the soup can have a creamy texture.
Whole Dried Peas. To prepare whole dried peas, first sort through them and remove any debris. Then rinse and drain them. Please them in a large bowl or pot and cover them with enough water to allow them to expand and still remain submerged. After soaking, drain the water and cover them with fresh water for cooking in a pot with a lid. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat, cock the lid on the pot, and simmer the peas until they are tender. This usually takes about one hour, but can take longer depending upon how old the peas are and how soft you want them to be.
About the Foam. White foam can form on the top of your water when cooking dried peas and beans. It can simply be skimmed off and discarded. Of, if preferred, it can be left alone and it will eventually dissolve and be incorporated back into the cooking water. There is no harm either way you go…discarding it or leaving it in the water. The choice is yours!
Texture When Cooked
Split Peas. Split peas will usually become mushy and disintegrate when cooked completely. With this, they will provide the rich creamy texture characteristic of pea soup. If you prefer, split peas can be cooked until they are just tender so they will somewhat maintain their shape.
Whole Peas. When completely cooked, whole dried peas will remain intact. However, if you want to use them for pea soup, simply take an immersion blender, regular blender, or food processor, and blend them up to make a creamy foundation for any soup.
Will They Sprout?
Split green peas will not sprout since the whole seed is not intact. Whole, dried peas will sprout. They can be jar sprouted in only 2 or 3 days. They can also be tray sprouted and grown into microgreens. There are many resources on the internet that give details on how to jar sprout or tray sprout whole dried green peas.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.