Recipe: Purple Hull Peas and Homemade Tomato Relish

“I was always pretty indifferent to purple hull peas growing up even though they were a staple around the table. That was until one summer when I had my first taste of tomato relish. Y’all, if you aren’t eating every serving of purple hull peas with tomato relish, you aren’t doing it right. Various family members make tomato relish each year and they all taste a little different, but Aunt Paulette’s version is known as the best.”

– Ellie Turner, editor

Purple Hull Peas and Tomato Relish

Purple Hull Peas and Tomato Relish


  • For the peas:
  • 1 pound fresh purple hull peas
  • Water
  • Meat of choice (ham bone, bacon, etc.), optional
  • Salt and pepper
  • For the tomato relish:
  • 6 quarts fresh tomatoes
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups white vinegar
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large bell pepper
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 can pickling spice


  1. Cover peas with water (4-6 cups) and add meat. My family just uses whatever meat we have on hand for flavor, but you could do without.
  2. Bring to a low boil for 5 minutes and reduce heat.
  3. Cook on low for up to an hour. Salt and pepper to taste.
  4. For the relish, steam tomatoes and peel.
  5. Dice them and add all ingredients except for the pickling spice to a large boiler.
  6. Place the pickling spice in a clean piece of flour sack towel (or any thin white cloth) and tie up tightly. Add it to the boiler.
  7. Cook on medium-low and consistently stir so it doesn’t stick. Cook about 4 hours or until it reaches desired thickness. Makes about six pints.


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