Preparing for the Purple Hulls

It’s almost time to plant our purple hull peas.  They’re one of my favorite things to grow.

There are lots of different varieties of the wonderful summer bean known as Southern peas, cow peas or field peas.  Most common is probably the black-eyed pea, but every region of the South has its favorite.  Here the hands down favorite is the pink-eyed purple hull variety.

Like all their cousins, purple hull peas thrive in our hot, dry summers.  We plant ours around June 15, following the English peas which have typically succumbed to the heat by then.  Yesterday I began tilling and prepping the garden we’ll use for them.  In a few days I’ll start planting them. They produce a great yield of peas (actually technically beans) in long purple pods.  And, of course, they are delicious. Like much of our great Southern food, the peas originated in Africa and were brought over to be food for slaves.  They are part of our traditional New Years Day meal, and on that day you must eat some or you won’t have any good luck during the year.

When I was a boy, during the summer we weren’t allowed to watch TV at night unless we were snapping beans or shelling peas while doing it.  I’ve shelled many a mess of them in my day.

I’m looking forward to some more shelling soon.



12 comments on “Preparing for the Purple Hulls

  1. Buffy says:

    We grow them and love them too, but we have a second favorite pea which is the creamy zipper. They are worth a try if you have a free row!


  2. shoreacres says:

    Purple hulls are almost ready here. They may be at the market this coming weekend. Black-eye peas are customary here for New Years, but everyone loves the purple hulls. And yes — snapping beans, shelling peas. I used to sit on the front porch at Grandma’s, feeling oh-so-grown-up, and work with the ladies in the afternoon shade.


    • shoreacres says:

      I found a “you pick it” farm just twenty minutes away from me. I had no idea it was there — never had heard of it. I just spent two hours and came home with blackberries, peaches, tomatoes and squash. I’m going back tomorrow night to pick a couple more buckets of blackberries to freeze.

      It’s been so long since I’ve eaten berries off the vine while picking – or a peach just off the tree. Gosh, they were good!


      • Bill says:

        So glad you have a great place like that nearby! There’s nothing like eating fruit right off the vine or tree. You can’t get any fresher than that.


  3. Peas are a winter crop for us and this was the first year that we grew shelling peas. Several nights after dinner we would all sit down around the table and start shelling. It’s amazing how fast they pile up! Of course my favorite is to eat them right out in the garden. I think that was a favorite for my boys too.


    • Bill says:

      I’ve been eating them every morning as I pick them. 🙂
      So far we haven’t shelled any because what we’re growing is selling out. Pretty soon we’re going to have to set aside some for ourself.
      What we’re harvesting now are English peas and Sugar Snap peas and they’re delicious raw. I don’t think a purple hull pea would be very good uncooked.


  4. Snapping beans and shelling peas required while watching TV. That’s a new one of me. Love it. Maybe I’ll figure out chores the grandkids can do when they come to visit and want to watch a favorite program. Wonder how well that will go over. LOL –Curt


    • Bill says:

      We were farm kids and on the farm in the summer the work is endless. So we were sometimes allowed to watch TV while shelling/snapping. That’s just the way it was and it didn’t seem like a great burden at the time.


      • Understand that, Bill. It fit right in with who you were, as, I am sure, regular chores did. Sounds like your farm was a “family farm” in the truest sense of the word. –Curt


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