The Brown Pea Story

In medieval times – before potato was introduced from the New World – brown peas, barley and beans were the staple food in Europe. Latvians have eaten brown peas for centuries and they are still offered today in Latvian national dishes and are available in any ordinary supermarket.

Brown peas are stored in a dry state. Rinse them before cooking, pour them with cool water and leave them to soak for a night. Next day, pour water, rinse again, put in a kettle with clean water and cook on low heat. Broth, onions, spices and garlic can be added. Flavouring with thyme and rosemary, oregano or sage has become popular. Shortly before the peas are ready, salt is added.

Pulses, including peas, contain a lot of fibre, carbohydrates and protein. They are a rich source of vitamins – containing vitamins B, C, E, fatty acids and various essential minerals. For centuries people believed that peas contain substances that favourably affect the cardiovascular system and renal function, reduce cholesterol levels, increase resistance to breast cancer, stabilize female hormones, help with premenstrual syndrome and menopause. They are recommended for women who are planning a pregnancy.

Brown peas are savoury, healthy and delicious. A classical Latvian dish is the traditional Christmas food – cooked brown peas with fried bacon and onions. Also fried peas are popular food. These are brown peas cooked in an oven or fried on a pan. Brown pea balls are made from minced boiled peas and potatoes. Chopped boiled peas may also be mixed with minced meat. All those pea dishes are very delicious with buttermilk or kefir. Likewise, brown peas can be added to soups, puree or salad. It is safe to say that brown peas are a truly national Latvian dish.

An Ancient European Crop

In our travels around Europe we have found out that actually brown peas can be found everywhere although they are largely disappearing. We think that Brown Peas (also called Grey Peas, Pois Gris or Kapuziner Erbsen) were the dominating type of peas all over Europe in the medieval times. Then yellow peas and green peas took over. Now Aloja Starkelsen has multiplied organic Brown Pea seeds for several years and Latvia is surely the biggest producer of Brown Peas in Europe, combining the use in traditional dishes and now industrial production of organic pea protein. What could be better and more nutritious than organic pea protein and flour made from ancient brown pea varieties?