My garden is part laboratory, meaning that I like to try new things, whether techniques or plants. One of my favorite seed companies is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. In the winter I love looking through their catalog while planning my Spring garden, reading the descriptions of plants from all over the world. I’m amazed by the boundless variety of plants from which they’ve collected seeds. Every year I pick some new things to try, but I’m actually trying to hone in on some favorites that I can plant and depend on every year. Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpeas are on that list.
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We live on the top of a rocky hill, so I garden in raised beds using the “Lasagna Gardening” method. Basically, it’s layering different types of mulches such as leaves, newspapers, compost, and kitchen scraps. I also garden organically, trying to learn and use natural methods to avoid chemical pesticides and fertilizers. I live in southwest Missouri, Zone 6B.
Pick Me! Pick Me!
I love this variety of cowpeas because when they ripen they turn a pretty purple, which makes it really easy to know when they’re ready to be picked. The hulls are edible, too. If you pick immature pods, you can break them into pieces, called “snaps,” and cook them with the cowpeas. One year I saved and dried the purple hulls and used them to make herbal teas just for fun. I can’t say I could really taste them since I combined them with other herbs, but they lent a pretty pink tint to my tea. It was just another experiment. I’ve had good luck with them for many years and haven’t had a problem with pests or diseases.
If you don’t already have a Baker Creek catalog, do yourself a flavor (haha) and request a catalog. You’ll be amazed, and your horticultural horizons broadened! Purple Hull Pinkeye Cowpeas are a warm-weather crop, so plan ahead for next summer.
Preparing Purple Hull PINKEYE Peas
After you say that three times really fast, here’s my favorite way to cook them: I usually preserve my peas by packing them in quart-sized zip-locs, which weigh about 24 oz. If you don’t grow your own, you could use store-bought, and of course, any type of cowpea will work fine. I start by chopping a slice or two of bacon, and put it in a pot over medium to start browning.
Then I use my nifty Vidalia Chop Wizard to quickly chop an onion and throw it in the pot, too. Although I have a food processor, this gadget is quicker to use and clean up when I have a small job. (And it’s fun.)
When the bacon has started to brown and the onion is translucent, I put in about two cups of water and a teaspoonful of Better Than Bouillon. If I have homemade or canned chicken broth I sometimes use that instead. You could even use plain water, I just think the chicken broth adds depth of flavor.
I add the frozen cowpeas, bring them to a boil, then lower the heat back to a simmer. After they’ve cooked awhile I add salt and pepper to taste. After about 30-45 minutes they’ll be ready to eat. Enjoy!