Botanical Name: Vigna unguiculata
Common Name: Black-eyed beans, black-eyed peas, cowpeas
Origin: The first domestication of black-eyed beans is believed to have occurred in West Africa.
Nutritional Information (per 1 cup serving, cooked)
Protein: 5.2 grams
Fat: 0.5 grams
Carbohydrates: 35 grams
Fiber: 5.5 grams
Calcium: 46 milligrams
Iron: 1.8 milligrams
Magnesium: 48 milligrams
Phosphorus: 118 milligrams
Potassium: 690 milligrams
Zinc: 1.1 milligrams
Vitamin C: 1.3 milligrams
Vitamin A: 0.8 micrograms
Folate (Vitamin B9): 358 micrograms
Black-eyed beans are low in fat and rich in dietary fiber, making them a good choice for maintaining a healthy diet. They are also a good source of plant-based protein and provide various essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. Additionally, black-eyed beans are high in folate (Vitamin B9), which is important for cell growth and development.
The term “black-eyed beans” refers to the characteristic black spot found on the beans’ inner hilum, which is the point where the bean was attached to the pod. This spot resembles a black eye, hence the name. In some regions, they are also known as black-eyed peas or cowpeas.
Black-eyed beans (Vigna unguiculata) have a long history of cultivation and consumption, primarily in Africa. The exact origin of black-eyed beans is believed to be in West Africa, where they were first domesticated. They were among the earliest crops cultivated in this region, with evidence of their cultivation dating back thousands of years.
From West Africa, black-eyed beans spread to other parts of the world through trade and exploration. They were introduced to Asia, including countries like India, where they have become a staple in the cuisine. The beans were also brought to the Americas through the transatlantic slave trade during the colonial period.
In the Southern United States, black-eyed beans were introduced as early as the 17th century, particularly in Virginia. However, it was in Florida and the Carolinas during the 18th century that the cultivation of black-eyed beans gained significant popularity. The crop eventually spread to other southern states, including Texas. Today, black-eyed beans remain a prominent ingredient in Southern U.S. cuisine, particularly in dishes like Hoppin’ John and soul food.
Black-eyed beans have gained recognition for their nutritional value and positive impact on soil fertility. Prominent agricultural scientist George Washington Carver promoted the planting of black-eyed beans because, as a legume, they have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil. This property makes them beneficial for crop rotation and improving soil fertility. Additionally, black-eyed beans are rich in nutrients such as calcium, folate, and vitamin A, further contributing to their value as a food source.
Over time, black-eyed beans have become a versatile and widely consumed legume, appreciated for their taste, texture, and nutritional benefits across various cultures and cuisines.
- High in Fiber: Black-eyed beans are rich in fiber, which promotes a healthy digestive system, alleviates constipation, and aids in managing symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome. Fiber also helps regulate cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease and contributes to weight control by promoting feelings of fullness.
- Potassium: Black-eyed beans are a good source of potassium, which supports healthy blood pressure levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. Adequate potassium intake also promotes the health of muscles and bones.
- Low in Fat and Calories: Black-eyed beans are low in fat and calories, making them a healthy addition to a weight-loss meal plan. A low-fat and low-calorie diet helps with weight management and reduces the risk of various health conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and depression.
- Protein: Black-eyed beans provide a good alternative source of protein, particularly for individuals who do not consume meat. Protein is essential for supporting muscle growth, repairing cells, and providing energy to the body.
- Iron: Black-eyed beans are a source of iron, which plays a crucial role in preventing anemia. Adequate iron intake helps transport oxygen throughout the body, supporting organ, cell, and muscle function.
- Healing Properties: Black-eyed beans offer soluble fiber, which aids in lowering LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure. The fiber content also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promoting satiety and potentially reducing the need for insulin among diabetics.
- Choose dry black-eyed beans: Look for dry black-eyed beans in grocery stores or markets. They are typically sold in bags or bulk bins. Avoid beans that appear damaged, discolored, or have signs of moisture, as these may indicate poor quality or spoilage.
- Consider organic options: If available, choose organic black-eyed beans to reduce pesticide exposure and ensure a higher-quality product.
- Check for freshness: Check the expiration date on packaged beans and opt for the freshest option available.
- Store in a cool, dry place: Transfer dry black-eyed beans to an airtight container or sealable bag and store them in a cool, dry pantry or cupboard. Exposure to heat, moisture, and sunlight can affect their quality and lead to spoilage.
- Avoid moisture: Moisture can cause beans to become moldy or spoil. Ensure the container is tightly sealed to prevent any moisture from entering.
- Check for pests: Occasionally inspect the stored beans for any signs of pests or insects. If you notice any infestation, discard the affected beans and take measures to prevent further infestation.
- Use within a reasonable time frame: While dry black-eyed beans have a long shelf life, it’s best to use them within one to two years for optimal quality and flavor. Over time, the beans may become harder to cook and less flavorful.
- Cooked bean storage: If you have cooked black-eyed beans, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be refrigerated for up to three to five days. Alternatively, you can freeze cooked black-eyed beans for longer-term storage, up to three months.
Remember to follow any specific storage instructions provided on the packaging or consult with the supplier for additional guidance based on the particular product.
Black-Eyed Beans Recipes
2 cups cooked black-eyed beans
1 bell pepper, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1 tomato, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a large bowl, combine the cooked black-eyed beans, bell pepper, cucumber, red onion, tomato, and cilantro.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the bean and vegetable mixture. Toss gently to coat all the ingredients.
- Adjust the seasoning if needed. You can add more lemon juice, olive oil, salt, or pepper according to your taste.
- Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
- Serve chilled as a refreshing and nutritious salad.
2 cups cooked black-eyed beans
1 onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1-inch piece of ginger, grated
2 tomatoes, pureed
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (adjust to taste)
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
Salt to taste
Fresh cilantro for garnish
- Heat oil in a large pan or pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
- Add the chopped onion and sauté until it turns golden brown.
- Add the minced garlic and grated ginger. Sauté for another minute until fragrant.
- Stir in the turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chili powder, and salt. Cook the spices for a minute to release their flavors.
- Add the tomato puree and cook until the oil separates from the mixture.
- Add the cooked black-eyed beans to the pan and mix well, coating them with the tomato-spice mixture.
- Add a little water if needed to adjust the consistency of the curry.
- Cover the pan and let the curry simmer for about 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend together.
- Sprinkle garam masala over the curry and stir gently.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve the black-eyed bean curry hot with steamed rice or bread of your choice.