Who in this metricized, largely urban world even knows what a peck is anymore? In grade six, when our family was living in a rural community, our class had to memorize all the Imperial agricultural measurements:
2 pints in a quart
4 quarts in a gallon
2 gallons in a peck
4 pecks in a bushel
So when Peter Piper picked a peck… that’s a peckuva lot of pickled peppers. Or of purple podded peas.
Above is the lovely flower that called me to investigate at a neighbouring plot in the community garden. The washed out, noonday colour in the photo doesn’t do it justice. This flower is as pretty as a sweet pea, though without the fragrance.
Looking closer revealed the beautiful, glossy purple pods, immature at the time, like purple snow peas.
They’ve since fattened up into plump purple vegetarian sausages.
Meanwhile, I’ve also had time to search them out. It’s likely that they’re Capucijner peas (Pisum sativum ‘Blue Pod Capucijner’), a heritage vegetable developed in Holland by Capucin monks in the 1500s. It doesn’t get much more heritagey than that.
The young pods can be eaten like snow peas, later as snap peas, and then the dried peas make great pease porridge or soup.
You might be able to get a late crop in after midsummer, if you’d like to try these beauties. I note that our friend Karyn Wright and her organic and heirloom seed company
Terra Edibles does sell the Capucijners. [Update: in 2016, this link is now a dead end]