Micro edible pea shoots from WS Bentleys
20 May 2022
Nurtured News

How to Grow Pea Shoots with WS Bentley

Established in 1956, W.S. Bentley Growers are a family business that specialises in growing and selling their very own salad produce. They grow, pack and wash all of their own produce before distributing nationwide.

Last month we went on a very exciting visit to W.S Bentley in West Yorkshire. W.S Bentley is our only supplier for Tendril and Salad pea shoots! They supply us with a huge amount of micro pea shoots, and we are very grateful for their amazing service. It was an extremely great experience that we all thoroughly enjoyed. We learnt a lot into the growing and harvesting process of pea shoots, as well as the hard work that goes into naturally growing tasty food – that a lot of people don’t realise. Our tour guides, Jan Bentley and Artur Kupiec were exceptional throughout the day, answering all our thoughts and queries … and believe me, we had a lot!

Read all about our visit below.

Growing micro tendril pea shoots Growing Micro Shoots

Spread over 5 acres of land, their process of growing and harvesting is truly spectacular! All the edible plants start off in the germination room, after all the seeds are sewn. The plants are then watered with fresh water straight from an underground bore (this water is single use), it is to prevent contamination and any bacteria that may be growing. The wastewater is then released into a nearby local river which doesn’t cause any damage to the environment.

Did you know? one germ could kill an entire crop of pea!

The germination room holds at 25’c, 365 days of the year and the plants are typically in here for 7 days before moving into the greenhouses. The germination room is heated by a biomass boiler, to be as environmentally friendly as possible. This makes the growing process as sustainable as possible and has the least damage feasible to the environment and the planet.

Pea Shoots Growing Pea Shoots Growing

When the plants are moved out of the germination room, they are moved into the greenhouses to finish the growing process. This is usually for around 5 days. This is what ensures the produce is as flavourful and as full of nutrients as possible. All products at W.S Bentley are grown naturally in a warm environment and are also fed naturally by the sunlight and grown in the most innate way possible. This is what puts their produce in a different league to most other suppliers whose produce is grown hydroponically in a factory. It also makes their pea shoots are very popular for chefs to buy, because they are looking for product to elevate their dishes that really adds flavour and can also be used for decoration. It’s a win-win situation for any chef who invests in our range of micro herbs.

When the time comes to harvest the pea shoots, it is usually 12 days after germination. Once the shoots have reached their optimum height, the trays are put into a guillotine and the peas are all cut into batches. All the produce is washed and cleaned before being dispatched around the country.

Salad Pea Shoot Salad Pea Shoot

While we were visiting Bentleys, we took the opportunity to try some of their products. Both the Salad and Tendril pea shoots had a sensational flavour! They had a very delicate yet sweet flavour to them. What makes it even better, is that they are packed full of nutrients, such as Vitamin C, protein, fibre, iron, and folic acid says W.S Bentleys. These are all very beneficial nutrients to add into your diet! So, if you’re looking for something bursting with flavour to add to your salad – our pea shoots are what you need! They are also super low in calories. So, if you’re watching your waistline, this product could be highly beneficial for you. Pea shoots can also be incorporated into many dishes – not just salads! They can be cooked into stir fry’s, pasta dishes, chow mien and even soup. The possibilities are endless really, it’s all about trying new things!

Tendril Pea Shoots in the Glasshouse Tendril Pea Shoots Growing in the Glasshouse

As mentioned, we purchase 2 types of pea shoots from W.S Bentleys; Tendril pea shoots and Salad pea shoots. Both produce little green stems, but with a slightly different appearance. Tendril peas offer attractive curling vines, whereas the Salad pea shoots are leafier. However, with a look similar in appearance, their tastes are very controversial. Salad pea shoots have a sweet flavour and crisp like texture. They also pair well with aromatics – including ginger, garlic, citrus, and vinegar. In contrast, Tendril shoots have a much milder, grassy aroma. They are best cooked similarly to other leafy green vegetables and compliment foods such as carrots, bacon, fish, and basil. Chefs tend to use pea shoots in accompaniment to fish dishes to add a light, refreshing flavour. Try adding our micro shoots as a decoration, to elevate the dish and make it more visually appealing. We all know that in professional cooking – presentation is key. Not that I’m suggesting that you’re going to try and be the next 3-star Michelin chef, but you can try to experiment with you’re cooking! We would advise to use salad pea shoots to cook with as they have a much sweeter flavour and less crunchy texture, but if you are wanting to use them raw, Tendrils will be your go-to shoot!

Shop our full range of pea shoots here.

How do you cope with the unpredictable British climate?

Seeding Machine Seeding Machine

“to be prepared for every situation”

They informed us that it’s all about meeting the customers’ expectations to the highest standard. So, they keep the germination room at a constant temperature and keep it monitored. Whether it needs to be heated higher or lower when the weather changes. They also understand that the sales demand will fluctuate throughout the year. As this product is mainly marketed for its use in salads and that the sales may drop during the winter months as salads are more a “summer food”.

Jan and Artur also informed us that they are looking to slowly expand W.S Bentley further over the next few years. “Lots of businesses took a big hit due to covid and it has been hard to get back to where we need to be. With lots of hard work and determination, we wish to get more established and grow the company.” We really admire seeing other companies working hard to achieve a set goal. We understand that the challenges that businesses face daily and alongside covid, many businesses didn’t make it through. So those that did need to work extra hard to keep on top of their game.

What is the best thing about running your own business is?

Living Red Vein Sorrel Micro Cress Living Micro Herbs - Red Vein Sorrel

He went on to tell us that it was his “own destiny”. Which personally we think is a unique and inspirational answer to that question. This is because it can be very daunting running your own business and it’s a huge achievement. He likes the fact that he can “direct what the next step is, trying out new things and processes as well as choosing who to employ.” Jan also gets great satisfaction from seeing his staff grow and flourish into their job, he sympathises with new employees, as he understands that “it can take time to enjoy a new job. You have to really learn the company and the role you have to play in it before it becomes truly enjoyable.”  He loves seeing people improve at their job over time and enjoying working at Bentleys. He mentions that he has a “great deal of respect for all of his employees and for everyone who has helped him, and his company get to where it is today.” We feel exactly this way about our company too and our employees. We would all be lost without our amazing workforce!

What would you say are 3 words to sum up your company?

Nurtured in Norfolk & W.S Bentley Growers Nurtured in Norfolk & W.S Bentley Growers

His response was “consistency, integrity and determination.”  I think this is the best answer that a business owner could’ve given. The company is consistent at getting produce out on time, consistent at getting results and is regularly pushing for bigger and better. The next answer ‘integrity’ presents his company as an honest supplier. They are honest about their expectations of themselves and as a company. And lastly ‘determination’ which is a vital one. Determination is what you need at the heart of every business; someone who is always striving for more. Pushing to gain more establishment and someone who always wants more. This visit was a very valuable experience for Nurtured in Norfolk. We got to see first-hand other businesses like ours that are always pushing for more. Not only that, but it also encourages us to push for more as well, to try new things, experiment with new products and try our hardest to grow our company’s establishment.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Jan and Artur for having us for a visit – it was a pleasure! It’s helped us to understand how our amazing product is grown and get an insight into the hard work that Bentleys put in to get the amazing product that they have.

Find out more about WS Bentleys here.

Pea, Burrata and Pea Shoot Salad By The Hungry Hobbit Pea, Burrata and Pea Shoot Salad by The Hungry Hobbit

Fresh and vibrant, this pea, burrata and pea shoot salad is just what you need on a summers day! Pour over some honey chilli dressing and you’ll be going MUAH

  1. Pea Shoots
  2. Burrata
  3. Olive Oil
  4. Honey
  5. Lemon
  6. Fresh Chilli
  7. Seasoning