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purple hull peas

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Can anyone tell me about purple hull peas, are they similar to black eyed peas? Does anyone have any good recipes?


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  1. Purple hulls and black eyes are two of a number of varieties of cow peas or southern peas. Shell them out. Snap immature pods. Rinse. Put in a pot of water and bring to a simmer. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the water. When they stop throwing off scum add sliced salt pork and more salt to taste. Cook until done. Add more hot water to keep them covered if needed. Sometimes I'll add an onion and/or some peppers to the pot, but usually it's just peas, water, salt pork, and salt.


    1. Chop an onion, smash three or four cloves of garlic, and dice a little tasso, ham or bacon. Saute the meat in a little oil until browned, then add the onions & garlic. Saute until fragrant, then add the shelled peas, water to cover, and several bay leaves, salt, black & red pepper, and a branch or two of fresh thyme. Simmer until the peas are tender, taste for salt & adjust. Serve over rice.....mmm good. Purple hulls are a little sweeter than blackeyes, not as meaty as silverskins or crowder peas.

      1. I make my peas like Celeste above, except rather than serving over rice, I make a skillet of corn bread to catch the pot "likker." Add some sliced home grown tomatoes and maybe some fried squash, and you have a great summer meal. Whippoorwills are the favorite pea variety in my clan.

        1. California Pink eye peas are our favorite! All theses recipes sound great! I like them slow boiled for a few hours with salt and pepper (going to try and add some sauteed jalapeno peppers tommorrow night). Served with fresh skillet fried okra and sliced tomatoto. Cut okra 1/4 in pieces and rolled in flour pepper & salt mixture. Fry until brown in 1/4-1/2 in of oil. The flavor combo of tomato, fried okra and purple hull peas is delicous!

          1. Purple hull peas were actually developed by Texas A&M a decade ago. They are also called the Texas pinkeye purple hull cowpea. They are cooked just as you would blackeyed peas, but I like them better. I like to cook them with either the salt-pork or a hambone.

            5 Replies
            1. re: danhole

              Dan, the purple hull pea has been around longer than ten years. I remember eating them as a child in the 50's. Didn't research it, but TAMU hybridizes so the pinkeye purple hull pea might only be 10 years old.
              Back to cooking, my dad always added a beef bouillion cube to the pot likker and mashed a few of the peas to thicken the broth. After my tonsillectomy, when I was 5, he smuggled pot likker and crustless Mrs. Baird's bread into the hospital for me to eat. Who wants jello when you can have pot likker.

              1. re: Pampatz

                Purple Hull peas (Cowpeas) have been grown in the southeast since slavery. They grow very well in our hot, humid climate. I'm going to try the pinkeye pea sometime, I hear they are a little more "meaty". I understand that the regular purple hull pea was the original pea used in Hoppin John.

                1. re: Pampatz

                  No, even the "pink-eye purple-hull" has been around longer than 10 years. I distintictly remember my dad using that term to describe our crop of peas over 20 years ago, and it didn't sound like the name was new to him then. I'm sure TAMU has developed many sub-varieties of the purple-hull pea, of which this very specific variety known as "Texas pinkeye purple hull cowpea" is probably one. But the Aggies don't have a patent on "Pink-Eye Purple-Hulls", let alone "Purple-Hulls" in general.

                2. re: danhole

                  Actually, purple hull peas are much older than a decade! I started planting them about 40 years ago. They're my favorite peas, but so hard to find here in the NC mountains if you don't grow your own.

                  1. re: danhole

                    We have a purple hull pea festival in town and they have been around for a very very long time..i am 37 now and my grandfather harvested these when he farmed..

                  2. my neighbor gave me some things that look like snap peas but are very dark purple....are these the same? she said to just cook them up like green beans - but should i shell them and discard the hulls????

                    im so confused now......

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: deliciousnyc

                      Purple hull peas are shelled. The hulls are usually dry and I put them in the compost pile. Soft hulls can be included with the peas as "snaps".

                      1. re: deliciousnyc

                        There is a pole bean/snap bean that is eaten fresh that has a purple skin. It will turn more green as it cooks. The flavor is almost identical to green beans. Enjoy!

                      2. Nothing better than purple hulls with a pan of cornbread! Delicious.

                        1. I know this is an ancient post, but i've just discovered Purple hull peas in my last few CSA deliveries, and LOVE them. they really are different than the standard black-eyed peas or field peas. much meatier, and take on flavors well.

                          in a pan, i sauteed basic onion, bell pepper, and garlic mix, along with some leftover Tasso (Turkey tasso, if you can believe it!). I also threw in an overripe tomato that needed eating before it spoiled.
                          to this i added the peas, a bit of salt and pepper, and a couple of spoonfulls of a (homemade) "Cajun spice mix," covered with 2 cups of stock/broth, and let it simmer away for about 30 minutes. now and then, I added a bit of water to keep it soupy.

                          WOW. really simple and homespun is the way to go with these. so tasty and comforting over a bit of white rice. :)

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: TSQ75

                            I'm also getting purple hull peas from Brinkley Farms and I want to try your recipe. Since my wife doesn't eat pork, I'd love to know where you found turkey tasso in the Triangle. I'm guessing Southern Season?

                            1. re: ToothTooth

                              Another great way to serve them in summer is to cook (I usually use stock) until just tender, drain and cool slightly, then make a salad/salsa with them... Vidalia or green onions, red bell pepper, fresh sweet corn kernels, whatever you want to throw in. Dress with just salt/pepper and lime juice. For an extra treat, throw in some chopped avocado when serving. It's one of my favorite summertime brown bag lunch treats. It's good cold or at room temp.

                              1. re: ToothTooth

                                actually, i got the turkey tasso in NOLA on a road trip this summer...lol. I'd love to see if SS does carry it though cause i LOVED it. I have also had really good luck using smoked turkey necks and wings in beans. I get those from Compare on avondale.

                                those peas are my favorite new discovery this summer. I'll need to buy a few bags before they're gone and freeze them.

                                oh, and making your own "creole" seasoning blend is so worth it...with how cheaply you can get bags of spices at the latino markets, you can just make a batch without breaking the bank...i just keep it in a tub in the cabinet.

                                I use an amalgamation of these and up the cayenne just slightly http://www.gumbopages.com/food/creole...

                            2. You guys are simply killing me. Here in SoCal, frozen blackeyes and crowders are as close as we get. There are really only two things I miss about summer in Nashville, and while our lack of lightning bugs bothers me a little, missing the midsummer abundance of field peas just makes me want to cry.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Will Owen

                                Just a few days ago I snagged some fresh lady cream peas from a farm stand in Luling, Texas. Cooked them with water, salt, and salt pork. Sublime!

                                1. re: Jim Washburn

                                  Just got back from our annual Nashville trip, and while fresh peas are well out of season, I had a wonderful salad of purple-hulls as a side dish in a delightful new(ish) restaurant there. Dead simple presentation, just peas in a light vinaigrette with shreds of fresh greens. Yum.

                                2. re: Will Owen

                                  Are all black peas or brownish ones still good to use? I bought some fresh black eyed peas at the farmer's market last week and just now started to shell them. The pods ranged from very green to very brown. Some of the peas look normal, some are immature. My concern is whether I can use ones that have become black all over (as though the eye has spread)? can I use ones that have become brown (sort of a chestnut color)? And still others have a greyish cast with some black spots. They are all firm, though. I suspended shelling until I figure out whether I just need to toss them out.

                                  1. re: socsci

                                    As long as the peas aren't moldy or mushy, the color variations don't matter. Slightly bigger, older, more dried peas will take longer to cook than tender, younger, greener peas. Give the peas at least 30 minutes at a simmer before testing for doneness....really dried out peas will take 45 mins to get soft (like the dried peas from a package).

                                3. I go to a u-pick farm an hour away during the summer to pick my produce (It's crappy here- been over 104 for the last ten days, and most of us work for a living and can't be around to water and water and water). They have a great selection of blackeyed peas and cowpeas and probably some other kinds, and if I can figure out the right ripeness to pick them I would. Mostly dried husk I'm thinking, but never ran across anybody that could tell me for sure. They sure are wonderful when you get them so the peas are fresh but the husk is drying. I could use some help in that arena.