Heritage vegetable review
Opal Creek   Opal Creek peas

Age: modern
Background: bred by Dr Alan Kapuler, Oregon USA
My supplier: Graham in south Wales
Pros: beautiful, bounteous, really unusual and eye-catching
Cons: none

I was very excited to have the chance to grow this unusual yellow snap pea because I'd read about its creation in Carol Deppe's book. If you look at page 130 of Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties there's a wonderful story about Alan Kapuler's quest for 'Golden Snap' and it's one of the things that inspired me to start breeding peas myself. I always wondered whether Dr Kapuler (or Mushroom as his friends call him) had succeeded with the project and whether it was actually available. Well here it is. 'Golden Snap' became Opal Creek, named in honour of an ancient forest in Oregon. It's not easy to find, but Dr Kapuler, who has dedicated his life to breeding superb open-pollinated vegetables for the public domain, made it available through the Seed Savers Exchange in the US so it has been doing the rounds among seed swappers.

 
 
 
   

Seeds are pale green or cream, wrinkled and slightly bullet-shaped. Plants are completely green with no purple pigmentation, but in common with its yellow-podded parent Golden Sweet it does develop a yellowish tinge in the young leaf shoots when they reach flowering size, and some yellow in the leaf veins. The plants grow very tall, reaching just over 6ft in my garden, but they remain slender with small leaves and don't fill out very much.

The flowers are pure white and borne upright, with yellowy stems and a cream calyx mottled with green. This is slightly confusing, because Alan Kapuler's listing for Opal Creek in the SSE handbook describes it as having bicolour purple flowers. But never mind, it looks very lovely in this colour combination. The flowers are elegant and the soft white goes well with the cream calyx and yellow stem. Sometimes they're presented in pairs, but more often singly.

Photo: the golden yellow pods make this variety stand out   Opal Creek snap pea

The pods are slender and elegant and tend to stick out a bit rather than growing straight downwards. The surface is smooth and silky and the flesh translucent, starting off a bright lemon yellow and turning a more muted creamy yellow as they increase in size.

I found the pods slightly smaller than other sugarsnaps, long and slender rather than short and fat. But they produced the nice thick crunchy pod walls you'd expect, and the flavour is on the mild side but sweet and juicy. The yellow colour is retained when cooked, but the beautiful pods are probably better appreciated raw in salads. I didn't try eating the peas themselves as it's very much geared for use as an edible-podded variety, but if you do allow them to mature you get about seven or eight in a pod.

Opal Creek apparently also has very sweet edible leaves, especially the small leaves around the stem. But I didn't get round to trying this.

A very nice variety which I'll certainly grow again.

     
     
   

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Text and images © Rebsie Fairholm. All rights reserved.