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Crowder Shelling Beans
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Crowder shelling beans are an heirloom legume variety that have a bright green shell when fresh and then turn to a pink and rose hue when dried. The pods range from eight to ten inches in length and contain anywhere from twelve to eighteen small globular brown beans. These beans are referred to as ‘Crowder peas’ despite not being related to the common pea. Crowder peas offer a flavor reminiscent of black-eyed peas with a starchy texture and consistency.
Fresh Crowder shelling beans are available in the late summer and early fall months.
Crowder shelling beans or Crowder peas are a type of cowpea or field pea botanically known as part of Vigna unguiculata. The cowpea includes varieties such as black-eyed peas and southern peas. The Crowder pea variety got its name from the pea’s tendency to crowd into its shell. The beans can be utilized whole when immature as a fresh pea, when mature as a shelled bean, or in their dried or processed form. Fresh Crowder bean distribution is limited to farmers markets, CSA’s and roadside farm stands when in season. The dried or canned beans can be found year-round sold as a processed bean or as a value-added ingredient in soup and bean mixes. In addition to using as a vegetable crop, the Crowder bean is utilized as a cover crop, for livestock feed, and for its nitrogen fixing ability.
Crowder beans are grown for their edible peas or beans that are high in protein and contain the amino acids, lysine, and tryptophan.
Crowder beans can be used as a fresh shelling bean or they can be dried, frozen or canned and saved for future use. Crowder beans are most often found in soul food dishes and recipes from the American south. The beans can be cooked quickly, simmered for thirty minutes or until fork tender, or they can be slow cooked for hours to allow the broth to develop a richer flavor. Crowder beans are traditionally cooked in a broth along with bacon, ham hock or salt pork. Okra can be added to impart a thicker consistency to the broth. The beans take on the flavor profile of what they are being cooked with. Crowder beans pair well with onion, tomato, corn, garlic, fresh herbs such as sage oregano and parsley, okra, chili peppers and pork. Crowder beans should be kept refrigerated and shelled within a few days of purchase.
The term field pea dates back to the American south where for generations they were grown for their natural ability to produce nitrogen which enriched the soil in the fields where corn and rice were grown. The peas additionally provided valuable nourishment for impoverished populations and livestock. At first they were regarded exclusively as a poor man’s food, so much so that many historians make the claim that the peas thrived on poverty. In time though they would come to be a staple vegetable protein in southern kitchens and eventually become favored amongst chefs and gain popularity in the fine dining world.
Crowder shelling beans are a variety of cowpea or field pea common in the southern United States. Field peas such as the Crowder have grown in the south for well over three hundred years. The beans made their way to the southern United States from Africa during early colonial times and were quickly adopted as a favored crop as a result of their adaptability to the hot and dry climate of the south. Cowpeas such as the Crowder are believed to be native to West Africa and date back nearly six-thousand years and were domesticated around the same time as millet and sorghum. Today the beans are grown in Africa, Asia, and the United States. Crowder beans will grow well in a variety of soil conditions including sandy and dry but are not tolerant of frost and prefer a warm and sunny climate.
Recipes that include Crowder Shelling Beans. One is easiest, three is harder.
|A Veggie Venture||Fresh Crowder Peas|
|Tasty Trix||Fresh Field Peas & Corn with Basil, Scallions and a Garlic Tarragon Aioli|
|SimplyFreshFare||Fresh Crowder Pea Succotash|