Removing Skins From Black-eyed Peas

Several Ghanaian (and other West African) dishes first require removal of the outer coating (skins) from black-eyed peas. While it is possible to purchase pre-hulled and pre-ground peas in some African stores, I have found such packages unacceptable due to the presence of small stones and grittiness. Also, a food scientist suggests that my displeasure also had to do with the fine size of ground beans making it hard to attain the right fluffiness in the batters. Many others find them helpful, however. If using them, simply soak the dehulled beans and omit the manual, labor-intensive dehulling process described here.

Allow plenty of time for this step. I regularly do it several hours before I actually need to use the dehulled beans, storing them in the refrigerator. Dehulled beans are most commonly used in making Akara (Black-eyed Pea Fritters) and can also be used in preparing Tubaani (Black-eyed Pea Steamed Pudding).

To dehull a cup of dried black-eyed peas:
  1. Pick over the black-eyed peas and discard any unacceptable ones, rinse, and soak them in about 3 or 4 cups of water for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Fill a large bowl with water and add the beans. Take up a handful of beans and rub them between your palms and/or thumb and fingers to loosen the skins so they pop off. The skins will float to the surface and you can pour them off or add more water to the bowl and have them float out.
Or to save time, especially with large batches use a food processor:
  1. Put the beans in a food processor in several batches, along with a very small amount of the water they soaked in, and pulse very briefly, just a few seconds, three or four times. The goal is to loosen the skins, not to grind the beans themselves. Pour the beans out of the food processor and back into a large bowl. Fill it with water and tilt and shake the bowl slightly from side to side. The skins will begin floating to the top and over the edge of the bowl. It is a good idea to have a colander handy in case some of the beans start to also slip out. Supplement the removal by also rubbing the remaining skins between your palms and your thumb and fingertips.