This past weekend at the farmers market, I had the good fortune to come across a man selling purple hull peas. Their hulls ranged from a deep dark purple to a sort of striated green and purple combination. Fascinating as they were, I purchased some. When I asked him how he prepared them, he began explaining to me how to shell them. A fellow shopper calmly interrupted him and explained that no, in fact you cooked them hulls and all. They were still arguing when I walked away, bounty in hand.
My 1 lb bag of purple hull peas yeilded not quite 6 oz of usable shelled peas (pictured here). Purple hull peas are a variety of southern peas and can consequently be treated similarly to black-eyed peas or crowder peas. I diced up a bit of bacon and a bit of onion and sauteed them up in a pan till much of the bacon’s fat had been released and the onions were translucent. Then I dumped in the peas and clamped on a lid and cooked them for about twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. I’ve read several times now that if you chuck in a bit of water as well before clamping on the lid, they’ll produce a very nice “pot likker” that’s perfect for dabbing up with a bit of southern cornbread.