Purple hull peas starting to harvest

This is our first time growing purple hulls. Im very interesting in them as a summer cover crop after our sweet corn and before our tillage radishes. We planted a small test plot of them out back to see how they did. Well they did quite well. They normally like a neutral to slightly acid pH and thats what had me wondering. We have very alkaline conditions here, soil pH is 8.3. Early on we did see some chlorosis but we backed off water and it quickly went away. Anyway they sure are a fun little crop. When we grow them as our summer cover we wont let them go to seed. But for this test plot its quite welcome. I think we are gonna have to scare up some cornbread and cook these things!

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A cover crop you can eat! Don’t forget the fat back meat.

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Great tasting pea

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Either cook and eat or educate your customers to cook Southern Style. Not every food we Southerners love is bad for us. :wink:


Muddy, we are near totally ignorant of the finer points of the cowpea here. Can you suggest a good way to cook these?

I will wait on Muddy to pass on a good southern fresh pea recipe. Many of us like pepper sauce and cornbread with our peas. Good luck, Bill

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Can you eat them as shellies – raw like peas or lightly steamed like lima or soy beens?

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The only way that I have seen them prepared is to boil until tender with seasoning of choice. I like to add salt, veg. oil, and beef cubes. If your thinking of eating them raw like peanuts I don’t think you would like the taste although I have not tried field peas raw. Bill

Thanks for the vote of confidence, Bill. It seems like a different lifetime that I actually cooked in the amounts most people would call either meals for two or family sized meals. Even today I still need to turn out enough for at least 8 adult portions at a time, preferably more.

About the only things I actually follow recipes for are cookies. Even then I take liberties on everything except the key ingredients and mixing methods for the texture and crumble I’m aiming for. Other than that, I know what things should look like and feel like at different stages, and understand my family’s eating preferences. All that’s a round about way of saying that I cook by the seat of my pants, depending on what’s available and what I’m in the mood for.

Soooooo, here’s what I’d do with them. If I were making a large mess, I’d hope to have a leftover ham bone to toss in to cook with them. Lacking that, a ham hock will do. Okay, most non-southerners are turned off by the thought of ham hocks or fat back. So, a few pieces of bacon snipped up would be tossed into ~equal amounts of water and field peas. Pork is not necessary. Though it does make a difference in making the mess feel more like a meal. I also prefer to have a bit of diced onion in there cooking with them. Once again, not necessary. The peas also offer a chance to use some of the okra that tends to be abundant at the same time. You can just throw in some whole small pods or slice some up. Whole pods can be removed afterward for those who don’t like the texture of okra. If you have sweet peppers of any kind ready, you can dice up a bit and toss them in. That can add color as well as flavor.

If you don’t use something hammy or broth in place of water, most people prefer to add a touch of salt later in the cooking. Bring the pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until they are as tender as you want. The amount of time will vary depending on the original tenderness of the bean. It will take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour and a half max. Tends to be closer to the lower amount of time.

Sometimes I use a rather liberal amount of Greek seasoning near the end. Add pepper to taste, and either dash with your favorite hot sauce, or serve with the hot sauce on the side so that people can add the amount of heat they individually want.

The only thing that is absolutely required besides the peas and water is a fresh batch of corn bread for soaking up the pot liquor (likker). Must have fresh butter on the side.

Yes, I’m a messy cook. Are you sorry you asked for a recipe? :laughing:

Eric, if I were printing up a recipe for a produce stand, I’d take the basics of how they are cooked and call for adding whatever fresh produce or even herbs you were offering that you wanted to promote. You could add eggplant or squashes, tomatoes or peppers, or even corn near the end of cooking. There is no wrong way. Just variations on a theme.


Heh, heh, heh. That was a lot of words for something simple to make.

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What variety are they? I like the upright compact growth habit and easy picking. I tried some this year that the catalog said bush habit but they are going bonkers vining all over the place, which is not ideal for my space. I’m doing a little test run for drying beans - I’ve got the peas, jacob’s cattle, black turtle, tiger eye, and black valentine. So far the peas are clearly the most vigorous as I expected. Everything else is doing fine, just a little more ragged and had some root rot here and there. I’d like them to mature and dry in Oct - the only time of year that is dry around here.

Muddy that was awesome! We are gonna get some cooked up this weekend. Ill report back.