Black-eyed peas are part of the legume family and are a staple in Southern cuisine. Some people eat black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day as part of an older superstition that they bring good luck, but they are eaten year-round as well by many cultures worldwide. From salsas to soups to Mexican-style tortillas and beans, black-eyed peas are quite versatile but can require different cooking times for each recipe. Beans such as black-eyed peas give off a starch if cooked in a recipe without being allowed to soak, but for some recipes, a thick starch is preferable.
Along with reducing the thickening starch in a recipe, soaking aids in shortening the cooking time for black-eyed peas. Do not soak canned black-eyed peas because they will simply need to be drained and heated for use in most recipes. Don’t add salt salt during soaking unless instructed per the recipe because it will crack the casings on the black-eyed peas, and they will become mushy during cooking.
Soaking Techniques: Overnight
An easy way to reduce starch and cooking time in a bean recipe is to use the overnight soaking method. Rinse the black-eyed peas thoroughly of dust and debris in a colander and then dump them into a deep container and cover them with water. Allow 1 to 2 inches of water above the top of the beans. Cover the beans, refrigerate them and allow to soak for 6 to 8 hours or overnight.
Soaking Techniques: Quick Soak
Quick soaking is just as effective as an overnight soak. Rinse the black-eyed peas in a colander and dump them into a cooking pot. Cover the beans with water and bring the beans to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the beans from heat and allow them to stand for an hour to 90 minutes. Drain the water and continue with recipe as desired.
Soups and Stews
For soaked black-eyed peas, cook from 1 hour to 90 minutes in a soup or stew. Cook unsoaked beans for 2 to 4 hours, testing every half hour. If vegetables are to be added to the soup or stew, add them approximately 30 minutes before the beans are completely softened because they will overcook if added earlier.
Salsas and Relishes
For black-eyed peas that maintain shape and do not fall apart, cooking times for soaked beans will range from 30 minutes to 1 hour. Test the beans every 15 minutes or so for softening. Unsoaked beans should be cooked for 2 to 3 hours, testing them every half hour for softness. Drain the black-eyed peas immediately to prevent a thick, slippery coating.