Carlin Peas - also known as Maple Peas, Brown Peas, Pigeon Peas and even Black badgers and Grey Badgers -are an ancient pea or marl, recorded in the reign of Elizabeth 1.
They almost certainly originated in the gardens of the early Middle Ages monasteries, when peas and beans formed a huge part of the staple diet. They grow to about six feet high, and boast attractive purple and white blossom, and they crop prolifically. The peas, which can be used fresh, or dried for winter use, have a distinctive flavour, often described as a mediaeval mushy pea.
Carlin peas are better known in the north of England. In the Northeast traditionally children were given them to eat on Carlin Sunday, after a special church service, a little like Harvest Festival. In Nottingham the cooked peas were sold at the annual Goose Fair until the late fifties.
Here is a recipe for Carlin Peas.
Preparation Time is about three minutes, plus overnight soaking.
Cooking Time is around 25 minutes
This recipe serve Serves four people
Żlb (200g) carlin peas
Pinch of salt
1oz (25g) of beef dripping (or butter)
Some soft brown sugar (optional and not usually used in the North East)
A splash of rum (optional)
Soak the carlin peas in cold water overnight. Drain and put them in a saucepan of boiling water with salt. Boil for approximately 20 minutes, or until cooked but not overdone or mushy.
Melt the beef dripping (or butter) in a frying pan, drain the carlins and then add them to the pan and fry for two to three minutes.
Serve hot with salt and pepper. Or you can leave them to cool for a tasty nibble later. Alternatively, while still hot, you can add the brown sugar and a drop or rum.