Black-eyed pea facts for kids

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Black-eyed pea
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Rosids
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Genus: Vigna
Species: V. unguiculata
Subspecies: V. u. subsp. unguiculata
Trinomial name
Vigna unguiculata subsp. unguiculata
(L.) Walp.

The black-eyed pea, also called black-eyed bean, a subspecies of the cowpea, is a medium-sized edible bean. Humans first grew the pea probably in West Africa, but it is now grown all over the world.

Black-eyed-pea
Close-up of black-eyed peas

History

The first domestication probably occurred in West Africa, but the black-eyed pea is widely grown in many countries in Asia; it was introduced into the Southern United States as early as the 17th century in Virginia. Most of the black-eyed pea cultivation in the region, however, took firmer hold in Florida and the Carolinas during the 18th century, reaching Virginia in full force following the American Revolution. The crop would also eventually prove popular in Texas. Throughout the South, the black-eyed pea is still a widely used ingredient in soul food and various types of Southern U.S. cuisine. The planting of crops of black-eyed peas was promoted by George Washington Carver because, as a legume, it adds nitrogen to the soil and has high nutritional value. Black-eyed peas contain calcium (41 mg) folate (356 mcg), protein (13.22 g), fiber (11.1 g) and vitamin A (26 IU), among other nutrients, all for less than 200 Calories, in a 171-g, one-cup serving.

Cultivation

This heat-loving crop should be sown after all danger of frost has passed and the soil is warm. Seeds sown too early will rot before germination. Black-eyed peas are extremely drought tolerant, so excessive watering should be avoided.

The crop is relatively free of pests and disease. Root-knot nematodes can be a problem, especially if crops are not rotated. As a nitrogen-fixing legume, fertilization can exclude nitrogen three weeks after germination.

The blossom produces nectar plentifully, and large areas can be a source of honey. Because the bloom attracts a variety of pollinators, care must be taken in the application of insecticides to avoid label violations.

Lucky New Year food

Peteandpeas
New Year's Day in Alabama: black-eyed peas, ham hock, and pepper sauce

Southern United States

In the Southern United States, eating black-eyed peas or Hoppin' John (a traditional soul food) on New Year's Day is thought to bring prosperity in the new year. The peas are typically cooked with a pork product for flavoring (such as bacon, fatback, ham bones, or hog jowls) and diced onion, and served with a hot chili sauce or a pepper-flavored vinegar. The traditional meal also includes collard, turnip, or mustard greens, and ham. The peas, since they swell when cooked, symbolize prosperity; the greens symbolize money; the pork, because pigs root forward when foraging, represents positive motion. Cornbread, which represents gold, also often accompanies this meal.

There are several legends as to the origin of this custom. Two popular explanations for the South’s association with peas and good luck dates back to the American Civil War. The first is associated with General William T. Sherman’s march of the Union Army to the sea, during which they pillaged the Confederates' food supplies. Stories say peas and salted pork were said to have been left untouched, because of the belief that they were animal food unfit for human consumption. Southerners considered themselves lucky to be left with some supplies to help them survive the winter, and black-eyed peas evolved into a representation of good luck. In another Southern tradition, black-eyed peas was a symbol of emancipation for African-Americans who had previously been enslaved, and who after the Civil War were officially freed on New Years Day. Other Southern American traditions point to Ashkenazi and Sephardic southerners who were prominent slaveholders in Southern cities and plantations.

Culinary uses worldwide

Vietblackeyedpeas
Several cups of chè đậu trắng, a Vietnamese dessert made with black-eyed peas
Lobia Curry
Lobia curry, a black-eyed peas dish from India.
Mature black-eyed peas
cooked, no salt
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 484 kJ (116 kcal)
Carbohydrates 20.76 g
- Sugars 3.3 g
- Dietary fiber 6.5 g
Fat 0.53 g
Protein 7.73 g
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.202 mg (16%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.055 mg (4%)
Niacin (Vit. B3) 0.495 mg (3%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.411 mg (8%)
Vitamin B6 0.1 mg (8%)
Folate (Vit. B9) 208 μg (52%)
Vitamin E 0.28 mg (2%)
Vitamin K 1.7 μg (2%)
Calcium 24 mg (2%)
Iron 2.51 mg (20%)
Magnesium 53 mg (14%)
Manganese 0.475 mg (24%)
Phosphorus 156 mg (22%)
Potassium 278 mg (6%)
Sodium 4 mg (0%)
Zinc 1.29 mg (13%)
Link to USDA Database entry
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database

Africa and Middle East

In Egypt, black-eyed peas are called lobia. Cooked with onions, garlic, meat, and tomato juice, and served with Egyptian rice with some pastina called shaerya mixed in, it makes the most famous rice dish in Egypt.

In Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, lobya or green black-eyed-beans are cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, peeled and chopped, olive oil, salt and black pepper.

In West Africa and the Caribbean, a traditional dish called akara is made of mashed black-eyed peas to which is added salt, onions and/or peppers. The mixture is then fried.

Asia and the Pacific

In Indonesia, black-eyed peas are called kacang tunggak or kacang tolo in the local language. They are commonly used in curry dishes such as sambal goreng, a kind of hot and spicy red curry dish, sayur brongkos, or sayur lodeh.

In North India, black-eyed peas are called lobia or rongi and cooked like daal, served with boiled rice. In Maharashtra they are called chawli (pronounced chau-lee) and made into a curry called chawli amti or chawli usal. In Karnataka they are called alsande kalu and used in the preparation of huli, a popular type of curry. In Tamil Nadu they are called karamani and used in various recipes, including being boiled and made into a salad-like sundal (often during the Ganesh Chaturthi and Navratri festivals).

They are called lobia in Pakistan.

In Vietnam, black-eyed peas are used in a sweet dessert called chè đậu trắng (black-eyed peas and sticky rice with coconut milk).

Europe

In Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey (börülce salatası), black-eyed peas are eaten with vegetables, oil, salt, and lemon.

In Portugal, black-eyed peas are served with boiled cod and potatoes, with tuna, and in salads.

The Americas

North America

"Hoppin' John", made of black-eyed peas, rice, and pork, is a traditional dish of Southern United States.

Texas caviar, another traditional dish in the American South, is made from black-eyed peas marinated in vinaigrette-style dressing and chopped garlic, and served cold.

South America

In Brazil's northeastern state of Bahia, especially in the city of Salvador, black-eyed peas are used in a traditional street food of Nigerian origin called akara. The beans are peeled and mashed, and the resulting paste is made into balls and deep fried in dendê. Acarajé is typically served split in half and stuffed with vatapá, caruru, diced green and red tomatoes, fried sun-dried shrimp and homemade hot sauce.

In the northern part of Colombia, they are used to prepare a fritter called buñuelo. The beans are immersed in water for a few hours to loosen their skins and soften them. The skins are then removed either by hand or with the help of a manual grinder. Once the skins are removed, the bean is ground or blended, and eggs are added, which produces a soft mix. The mix is fried in hot oil. It makes a nutritious breakfast meal.

In Guyana, South America, and Trinidad and Tobago, it is one of the most popular type of beans cooked with rice, the main one being red kidney beans, also referred to as red beans. It is also cooked as a snack or appetizer on its own. On New Year's Eve (referred to as Old Year's Night in Guyana and Suriname), families cook a traditional dish called cook-up rice. The dish comprises rice, black-eyed peas, and other peas and a variety of meats cooked in coconut milk and seasonings. According to tradition, cook-up rice should be the first thing consumed in the New Year for good luck. Cook-up rice is also made as an everyday dish.

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