I grew up in Cherokee County, in East Texas. In the summertime, along with all the other fresh melons and vegetables, fresh peas from the garden were often on the table. My mother was fond of Lady Cream Peas, Black Eyed Peas were favored by many (there is even a Black Eyed Pea festival in an East Texas town), Field peas, and the delicious peas in the photo, Purple Hulls. You can buy them by the bushel at farm stands along the road and shell them yourself, but most often now I visit our Farmer’s Market in Sugar Land and buy a bag already shelled. I keep them refrigerated until I cook or pop them right in the freezer.
The plainest way to cook them after shelling is with some ham or salt bacon and seasonings in a big soup pot. Often I add bacon, chopped onions and peppers from the garden. When they are ready, add some green onions, a slice of cantaloupe, and a pan of hot cornbread and you have a feast! I never really think about having a recipe for cooking peas, but here is the list of what went into this pot. After the growing season is over, I always put a few bags of peas in our freezer so we can prolong the goodness.
Purple Hull Peas
2-3 cups of fresh purple hull peas, shelled and rinsed (my grandmother would have called this a “mess” of peas!
4 strips thick bacon, chopped
1 onion, coarsley chopped
1 sweet red pepper
1 green pepper
1-2 jalapeno peppers
water to cover (you may use chicken stock for extra flavor)
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon sugar (optional)
Add all ingredients to large pan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook, adding liquid as necessary for an hour and a half, or until tender. We like to serve hot in bowls so we can add some cornbread to the soupy part.