If you look at the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide you will see that southern peas are one of the heat tolerant vegetables that can be planted in June, July, and August. Black eyed peas are one type of southern pea along with cream peas and crowder peas. Black eyed peas are easy to grow but how do you know when they’re ripe? Black eyed peas can be eaten at all of their different ripeness stages. They ripen fast so pick them often, every two to three days.
As soon as the baby pods appear they can be eaten. These young immature pods can be stir fried whole or chopped and eaten as “snaps” like a green bean. The younger pods are more tender. Once they elongate, the peas will start to form and they will get more fibrous and less desirable to eat. If you try to shell the peas during the green stage, it will be very difficult to separate the peas from the fleshy pod.
The yellow pod stage is ideal for shelling and cooking black eyed peas. At this point, the peas are mature and plump with high water content. Shelling is very easy at the yellow pod stage. They cook quickly (10 minutes) in a boiling pot or stir fry with a lid to help cook them.
Once the pods and beans start to dry, they turn brown. Let them dry completely if you would like to save the seeds to replant, or store them to cook later as a dry bean. To prepare the dry beans to eat, soak them in water to rehydrate, drain and rinse, then boil in a pot for 30 minutes or longer until they are tender. Stir the beans throughout the cooking process a few times and salt to taste.
Summer peas should be your “go to” summer vegetable. In addition to providing food for your table, they also help to build your soil. Peas are in the legume family and considered nitrogen fixers, which means they will add nitrogen to the soil.
What’s in the Garden Now – Black Eyed Peas
Southern Peas – A Summer Vegetable and a Cover Crop
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