Botanical name: Pisum sativum
The production is oriented on fresh pea, for direct consumption, on open field pea for the canning industry (canning, freezing), on pea for dry grain for human or zootechnical food ("pisello proteico").
Origins and history
The pea, probably originally from the North of India, appears to have been cultivated since the Neolithic (7000 BC) and accompanied cereals in the origins of agriculture in the Near East. In ancient times and in the Middle Ages it was a staple food in Europe and in the Mediterranean basin. Nowadays, its cultivation is practiced on the five continents, particularly in the temperate climate regions of Eurasia and North America.
Appearance and properties
The pea is a hairless and glaucous annual plant, with a single thin and weak cylindrical stem, varying in length from 0.30 to 3 meters (dwarf, seedling and climbing peas).
The seeds of the pea are variable in shape, color and size. The shape is normally round but can be cuboid in the shapes in which the seeds are very tight in the pod. An important difference in shape is that between smooth and wrinkled seeds, caused by the different biochemistry of the accumulation of carbohydrates in the cotyledons. In smooth pea seeds, starch is mainly present when ripe; in the wrinkled ones just over half of the reserve carbohydrates are starch while the rest are soluble sugars. Large-seeded, green and wrinkled peas are good for freezing while for canning you only want small, smooth-seeded peas.
The pea seed has a very variable size: 1000 seeds can weigh from 100 to 500g.