Latvian Big Grey peas

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Latvian Big Grey peas

Latvijas lielie pelēkie zirņi

Latvians have been pea eaters for centuries. Peas, barley and beans long constituted diet staples and they remained important up until the introduction of the potato in the 19th century. Nowadays, grey peas with bacon is referred to as a very classic dish of Latvian cuisine during the cold season and are almost mandatory for the Christmas table.

Since conventional farming gained popularity in Latvia `big gray pea variety` has grown increasingly rare. This variety was replaced with the `small pea` – it is easier to grow and farmers can get a bigger harvest yield.

`Big Brown Peas` grow high – the plant is tall, so farmers need to support it with stakes or plant it together with other cereals, for example, oats. Also, the harvest is smaller – only 2-3 peas grow in each pod. That is the reason why some years ago only few farms were growing this variety. Not all big peas are big enough to get a special status. The average weight of 1000 seeds must be 360-380 grams with a density of 780 grams per liter. Appearance: The seed is large, coarse, brown and marbled with black hilum.

Until now, only one seed variety – Retrija – has survived according these requirements. Only some farms are growing this variety in Latvia.

Dried Latvian grey peas are distinguished from other peas by their especially large, coarse seeds and their good culinary qualities, such as a relatively short boiling time. Though not particularly grey looking, when served on the table the pea has a marbled pattern that gives it a greyish coloration. While the boiled pea has a soft, floury consistency and a mild yet specific flavor, which comes from the skin.

"Latvian Big Grey peas" or to put it simply, Latvian grey peas have been listed in the European Protected Designations of Origin (PDO) list.

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Nominated by:Ruta Beirote