THE JOY OF EATING PINKEYE PURPLE HULL PEAS
Today I picked a peck of Pinkeye Purple Hull Peas and spent three hours shelling them to get about a gallon of peas. A peck is ¼ of a bushel. My wife will cook them tomorrow by frying Bacon in a large pot, adding water and peas, plus Knorr Chicken Flavored powder (salty) and pepper to taste. She cooks them until they are tender. She will also bake Jalapeno Corn Bread made with yellow corn meal, no flour. I like fried okra with the peas and either pork chops or roasted chicken. Pico de Gallo is delicious on the peas. I have already chopped up a mixture from the garden of Gypsy pepper, Red Bell pepper, red/green Jalapeno, red onion, and white cucumber mixed with an Italian dressing. My tomatoes split after we got 4.75 inches of rain last week.
Pinkeye Purple Hull Peas came over from Niger, Africa with the slave trade. Despite my wife’s objections, they are more akin to a bean. They are also referred to as cow, crowder, or southern peas like Black Eyed Peas. I agree with most commentators, Purple Hull Peas are more delicate and delicious flavored than black eyed peas.
There is an annual Purple Hull Pea Festival in the African American community of Shankleville in Newton County of East Texas. Another Purple Hull Festival is held in Emerson, Arkansas. The internet is filled with all kinds of recipes.
This year I ordered ½ pound each of Mississippi Pinkeye II Purple Hull and Top Pick Pinkeye Peas from 101 year old Willhite Seed Inc. in Poolville, Texas. Willhite started out as a melon seed company and later expanded to sell all kinds of vegetables, especially those that grow in the warm South.
Purple Hull Peas are adaptable to most soils. I planted my first row of peas in March. A week or so later I had the second planting where the bush beans had been. The third planting, about two weeks later, was where the onions had been. The fourth planting was in the row next to the tomatoes. They did not germinate well probably because of hot dry weather. I replanted seed in the skips and planted the fifth row where the corn had been. It rained and every seed appeared to have germinated.
My first harvest of a mess of peas was in the second week of May. Today I pulled up that first planting and placed the semi-long vines in the compost bin. Today’s picking was from the second planting. The third planting, where the onions were, is starting to bloom. Peas can be harvested usually from 55 to 70 days after sprouting.
After getting the 4 plus inches of rain, the grasses and broad leaf weeds were as tall as the peas in the last two plantings. This morning, I was on my 79 year old knees with knee pads pulling up several gallons of those grasses and weeds. The meal tomorrow will be worth the pain I will experience tomorrow when I get out of bed.