Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Southern Pea Meets a Yankee

You'se guys who grew up here in the South may already know about these wicked, tasty veggies called black-eyed peas, but this New England Yankee only recently discovered them.  In the interest of full disclosure, even though I've been living here in Texas since 1983, I was convinced I didn't like black-eyed peas.  Turns out I was wrong.

Black-eyed peas, also called southern peas, crowder peas or cowpeas, are an easy to grow legume.  The peas can be planted in Central Texas from late April through August.  They are very drought and heat tolerant.  Harvest is in about 85-100 days depending on variety.

I decided to grow black-eyed peas because there's very little that will grow in the heat of a Texas summer, and I thought my chickens might like them (they do).  I planted my first crop in June, and I liked them so much, I planted a second crop in August.  The June crop grew fast and tall, so when I replanted in August I decided to use some fencing as an improvised trellis.  The August planting did not grow as tall, but the peas were still plentiful.

The peas can be harvested young, when the swollen pods are still green, for eating fresh.  

Harvested pods can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to shell them.

Shelling black-eyed peas takes time and is best done with a couple of extra hands.  Sometimes you can get lucky and find someone willing to help.  I call this picture, "will shell for football".

Shelling operation underway.

When the pod strings are removed, sometimes you get lucky and they slide out into the bowl.

My favorite way to eat black-eyed peas is with onions and bacon.

When the onions are tender, add the peas and cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cover for about 20 minutes.  Yum, I can't wait for next year.  I'll be sure to grow black-eyed peas again.

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