A small beige bean with a black "eye" at its inner curve, black-eyed peas are a staple of Southern cooking. It's considered good luck to eat black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.
1 cup dried beans = 2 to 2-1/2 cups cooked beans
Choose dried beans that look plump and evenly colored. Pick over dried beans before using to remove any small pebbles. You can also find black-eyed peas frozen and canned.
Canned beans should be thoroughly rinsed before using. Dried beans should be soaked before cooking, both to speed cooking time and to reduce any gas-causing tendencies. There are two ways to soak dried beans: Overnight soak: Rinse the beans, then cover with an inch of cold water and let soak at room temperature for at least four hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans before cooking them. Quick-soak method: Rinse the beans, then put in a saucepan, cover with an inch of water, and bring to a boil. Boil for a few minutes and then let them soak for an hour off the heat, drain, and then add fresh water and continue cooking. Soaked beans will cook in about 60 minutes. Use 3 to 4 cups of water for each cup of uncooked beans. There's a persistent myth that adding salt to beans while they cook will toughen their skins. This is not true, however, and salting the cooking water gives the beans better flavor.
Canned beans have a shelf life of 2 to 3 years. Store dried beans in a covered container for up to 1 year. You can precook black beans and store them, refrigerated, in their cooking liquid for up to 5 days.