Are purple hull peas considered a field pea? Are they a crowder pea? Cowpea? I ask these questions because before writing this blog post, I didn't know very much about these classic Southern peas, except that they taste fantastic and are packed with nutrients. (I purchased the pictured purple hull peas on Saturday from Burge Organic Farm at Morningside Farmers Market.)
After some google research, I quickly realized that purple hull peas have a long history from Africa to slave trade to Southern festivals and shelling competitions. These peas are celebrated across the South, in places like Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas. They fall into a broad category of peas, referred to as Southern peas, field pea, cowpea and protopea which include a wide variety of peas with varying shapes, sizes and flavors – Mississippi Purple, Pinkeye Purple, Blackeye, Calico Crowder, Zipper Cream and many others.
Purple hull peas are easy to shell. My husband, Michael, has a lot of experience shelling beans. His grandmother and mother have been growing them long before he came along. Michael says, "gather your family and friends and give everyone a bowl with some peas and once the shelling begins, the stories and good conversations can't be stopped." Sounds like a good time to me!
Once shelled, purple hull peas can be dried, frozen, cooked, or canned.
They are packed with protein (about 13 grams in 1 cooked cup) and fiber (11 grams in 1 cooked cup)!
Check out my recipe for Hoppin' John, by clicking here. It's a classic Southern dish that highlights these Southern peas.