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Purple Hull Pea
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Purple Hull peas resemble Black-eyed peas, except for the color of their "eyes". The hull or shell is a light green when young and matures to a deep burgundy color. The pods are inedible. Each shell contains up to ten small, rounded peas with a green, glossy sheen and a burgundy eye at the bean's belly. Purple Hull peas have a nutty, sweet taste with a creamy texture.
Purple Hull peas are available in the summer.
Purple Hull peas are a type of cowpea, which is a legume classified as Vigna unguiculata. It looks similar to a bean and grows in long inedible pods, unlike peas that grow in pods edible when young. A cowpea is not a true bean and is technically not a true pea, either. The peas are known by many names, such as “pinkeye purple hull peas” for the color of their “eyes” or “crowder” beans for the way in which they are ‘crowded’ into their pods. Purple Hull peas take the stage at the end of June each summer in Emerson, Arkansas at the Purple Hull Pea Festival.
Purple Hull peas are a good source of protein, fiber, and folate which benefit a healthy heart.
Purple Hull peas are added to stews and soups, and pair well with cumin, coriander and bay leaves, among other flavors. Add cooked peas to salads for a bit of texture. The peas do lose some of their color when cooked. Purple Hull peas are traditionally cooked with ham or ham hocks for flavor and are served with braised greens as a main dish. The cowpeas can be steamed, boiled or braised. Purple Hull peas are delicate and once cooked will keep in the refrigerator for just a few days. Freeze cooked Purple Hull peas for long-term storage.
Purple Hull peas originated in what is now Niger in Africa, and botanists believe they came to the United States during the slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. The long shelling beans were eaten by the slaves and were used as a forage crop for livestock, hence the name “cow peas”. Steeped in the history of the American south, Purple Hull peas are not well-known outside the region, like their cousins the black-eyed peas. Most often Purple Hull peas can be found at local farmer’s markets.
Recipes that include Purple Hull Pea. One is easiest, three is harder.
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