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Fresh black-eyed peas - how to cook?

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I went to the local Alameda farmer's market yesterday, and picked up a bag of fresh black-eyed peas on a whim.

Got them home and now realize I have no idea how to cook them! Any ideas or suggestions?

I looked around online, but most of the recipes deal with dried black-eyed peas. Also oddly enough, these peas are sometimes called cow peas.

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  1. Actually, cowpeas is the older name for them. They are part of the large family of African peas, not a true New World bean in conventional parlance...

    You don't need to parboil them, but the actual cooking time might be a bit longer than if you were dealing with parboiled dried peas.

    Otherwise, you can use the same recipes.

    1. Put them in a pan w/ just enough water to cover. Put a lid on the pan and simmer until they are tender to your level of preference. I think the timing can swing wildly depending on just HOW fresh they are.

      If your farmers market sells pepper jelley, try some as a condiment w/ fresh peas and beans.

      6 Replies
      1. re: danna

        You need to get some pork in the pot for seasoning, I prefer hog jowl but bacon will work too, cook them long and slow.

        1. re: Candy

          different strokes.......

        2. re: danna

          Thanks for the info! It'll be interesting to see if I like them :-)

          I assume I'm shelling the peas, right?

          1. re: No.19

            correct. a task that requires a television, IMO, or better yet, a small child. My Mom is a pea/bean freak. As a child I was pressed into slave labor shelling crowder peas(similar to black-eyed but better, IMO), lima beans (inlcuding the huge Fordhook that looks like a fava), breaking green beens, and other varieties of torture I have forgotten.

            1. re: danna

              I cannot wait until I have some pea-shelling kids in my household. Oh! the luxury!

              1. re: JudiAU

                My pea shelling kids revolted and I've only had my husband to help me shell for years. He is a good sheller though.

        3. Fresh black-eyed peas are so delicious. I simmer them in unsalted water until soft. (How soft is a matter of preference.) Then add salt.

          Sometimes we eat them plain, maybe add a dash of hot sauce.

          Peas and greens are a simple preparation: Cook a strip of bacon until crisp. Remove bacon and cook chopped onion in the grease. Add chopped greens (turnip, beet, chard...) with some water or broth. Cook until the greens are soft. Add cooked black-eyed peas and heat through.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Val Ann C

            Thanks for the info! I assume I'm shelling them? Pods don't like that edible :-)

            1. re: No.19

              Yes, shell those peas.

              1. re: No.19

                Make sure you rinse the peas well after you shell them -- to remove sand and grit. I like to put the shelled peas in a big bowl of water, slosh them around, and then lift the peas out, leaving water and grit in the bowl.

                You may also see papery coverings on the peas. Those are ok to cook, but it may look nicer if you rinse those off too.

                I don't think the pods are good for anything but the compost heap.

            2. Cook with fatback and a large chopped Vidalia onion.

              3 Replies
              1. re: BlueHerons
                Jim Washburn

                Yeah! And salt. Don't forget the salt.


                1. re: Jim Washburn

                  Only salt at the end.

                  Otherwise they turn to mush.

                  1. re: MidtownCoog
                    Jim Washburn

                    Maybe they turn to mush in your kitchen, but they do not do so in mine, and they taste much better if cooked with salt than if salted after cooking.


              2. Just thought I'd revive this post, as it is black-eyed pea season in my neck of the woods. I've been getting them at the local stand and am going tomorrow to pick a whole bunch to freeze. This topic and posts have guided my preparations, and I must say, black-eyed peas and collards are now way way up there on my list of my favorite meals. I do, though, add the veggie stock and at the end add some vinegar, compliments of Jack Bishop's "Vegetables Every Day" cookbook. My peas are simmering and my onion and bacon are saute-ing in anticipation of collards as I write.

                1. bacon, onion, garlc, saute

                  add cider vinegar, salt, pepper, red pepper or cayenne (a little dried thyme does not hurt but dont go overboard)

                  add the peas

                  add some water

                  start baking your corn bread

                  you can also make Hopin John by adding extra water (or stock) then adding rice just before the peas are done and letting the rice cook (per directions on the pack) to absorb the extra water in the peas, just add enough water for the rice. Classic Southern Creole one-pot dish that i think has it's origins in African cooking, but i could be wrong on that.

                  1. for a little more info on peas and beans and cow peas and what ever you want to call them:


                    1. Is that (italics) what hoppin John is? I've never had it, only vaguely heard of it. Hmmm, may have to try it.
                      Good gracious, frankiii, I think it might take me a few month's study to figure out what kind of peas I'm really cookin! However, I think that I might have to do it, depending on my boredom level tomorrow when I'm shelling all those peas I'm planning on picking (if it doesn't rain).

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: kayandallie

                        yes, hoppin john is black eyed peas with rice cooked in it. I guess you could use another type of pea or bean but i have always seen it with black eyed peas. many childhood hours were filled with snapping beans over a wash basin at my grandparents house. it is a nice, meditative activity.

                        1. re: kayandallie

                          "Hoppin' John" = Anglicization of "pois pigeon," i.e. pigeon peas which is another name for these legumes. Gandules in Spanish.

                        2. Them peas needs sum' flavorin'. A litle hamhock or a little bacon, garlic and pepper. Simmer until soft, and don't be saltin' anything 'till the end of cookin'.


                          1. one recipe I saw recommended adding a handful of the snapped pods for a better flavor. Anybody else ever heard of this?

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: zenana

                              Yes, but they should be very immature pods. Usually these are dark green and about a 1/4 inch in diameter.

                              1. re: zenana

                                I think I will renew this again just because garden season is cranking up for another season. I am a Texas native and the way my grandmother always fixed them (she was born in 1900), was with as many "snaps" as possible. She would pick about every other day or two and pick everything from the dark green pods that "snap" easily to the older, wilted and even yellow to brown pods. She shelled everything except the ones that "snapped" easily, like a green bean, and then prepared them with bacon or hamhock or something much like everybody else has described. Hmmm. If you ever develop a liking for black-eyed peas with SNAPS, you will never want them any other way. I do have a question for anyone who might know, however. My daughters are growing black-eyed peas in their gardens for the last couple of years and they always freeze some for me because they live in another state. I have yet to be able to cook them so that they tenderize and do not taste bitter. I froze many a quart of black-eyed peas when they were growing up and I never had this problem. Does anyone have a suggestion?

                                1. re: nerakj

                                  It may be too late now but find out how they're prepping them to go in the freezer. If it's different than how you know to do it, help them out by telling them how you did it. I hope this helps for next time.

                                  1. re: nerakj

                                    FYI - the Blogger Secret Ingredient Contest's ingredient this week is Black Eye Peas. Hopefully, next week there will be a collection of recipes to choose from.

                                    1. re: nerakj

                                      I enjoyed reading this one since back in Texas growing up, my rather elderly parents would ignore the mature pods in favor of just a bowl of snaps. Since I was the one raising the vittles out back, I tried letting the fruit mature in order to try fresh peas WITH snaps. It was delicious, and I finally have earth of my own again in which to grow black eyed peas here in California. My wife hates just hearing the word "pea," but I keep assuring her that there is nothing better than fresh black eyed peas. Tonight the first batch goes in the pot! I will try frying up bacon with onions and kale, and using this as a stock in which to boil the peas.

                                  2. I bought some fresh black-eyed peas at the farmer's market last week, from a farmer I know well, but now that I'm shelling them, I don't know if they're still good to use. Some of the peas look "normal" -- cream color with a dark eye -- but some are black all over, as if the eye spread. Others are greyish with some black, as if they're heading towards black all over. Others are sort of chestnut brown with an eye. They are all pretty firm still. The pods ranged from pretty green (with some immature greenish peas) through yellow and brown. I've stopped shucking until I know if the black and brown ones are usable. Thanks.

                                    1. If you pick or buy young black eyed peas still in their pods, you do not have to shell them. The peas will still look a little green. You cook them just like green beans in water with bacon. I grew up on these way back. Why folks think you need to wait until the peas are mature and then shelled, I do not know. They are not nearly as good.

                                      1. I did the same thing once and couldn't find a single fresh pea recipe. So I adapted a recipe for dried black eyed peas from Madhur Jaffrey's World of the East Vegetarian Cooking ... a favorite of mine for finding new and fun ways of handling veggies.

                                        These are Chaura Na Poora -- Gujarati black eyed pea pancakes. They are absolutely delicious, and the batter can be prepared a day in advance.

                                        Instead of needing to soak the 1.5 cups of peas as you would any dried bean, I just par boiled them. Run a 3/4 inch cube of fresh ginger, along with 5 cloves of garlic and a couple of fresh chilies (serranos go well), in a food processor until minced. Then add in the prepped peas.

                                        Grind in the food processor until paste-like. Add 1.33 cups water, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, and 1 tbs of cilantro and run the food processor again until the mixture becomes a batter.

                                        Cook it like a pancake but with a bit more veggie oil than you would for a breakfast pancake. Usually the batter won't spread that much by itself, so you may need to swirl it out with the back of your ladle. For 1/3 cup of batter spread to a 6-7 inch circle, 2 minutes a side on medium-low heat should be sufficient to cook it. To make it truly Indian, use plenty of oil.

                                        I absolutely love this recipe and often will cheat by making it with chickpea flour instead of the beans.