Recipe: Pease Pudding

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There are some tastes that define a region. For me, as someone growing up in the North East of England, that taste is Pease Pudding. This dish of boiled yellow split peas, eaten hot (as in the nursery rhyme), or spread on bread can take me back there like no other taste on earth. The taste is simple with the earthy sweetness of the peas all there is to it, but that honesty of ingredients and purpose makes this far more than the sum of its parts. And the purpose of the dish is that of poverty, the pease pudding would be made alongside (and sometimes in the same pot as) the piece of bacon or ham it will supplement. The traditional way of serving it is in a bread bun (preferably a stotty) with a slice of ham and maybe a pickle – I preferred pickled onions, but there’s a strong case to be made for pickled beetroot. That is why you will see a pot of yellow paste in the cold meat counters of most butchers in the NE.

Although ham/bacon stock was a traditional ingredient, most commercial pease puddings (and it’s big business in the NE) is made with vegetable stock or just water. I prefer to use vegetable stock.

I’ve sometimes heard pease pudding called the ‘Geordie hummus’, which never set well with me. In the course of researching this recipe I’ve discovered that it is the exact analogy of the greek dish, fava.

I’m such a fan of pease pudding that I’ll happily eat it on bread or toast on its own, but it’s supposed to be eaten alongside something else: something sharp and vinegary or lemony for preference.

Cooking time is only a guideline, I’m afraid. It very much depends on how old or awkward your split peas are. I don’t think I’ve cooked this in under 90 minutes, but 120+ is not that unusual. I’ve specified enough water for a 90 minute simmer, but add more if it goes over that amount of time. You want the hot pudding to be fairly loose like wallpaper paste – it will thicken up as it cools.

pease pudding photo DSCN0916_zps9cf8ca64.jpg

Ingredients
200g yellow split peas, soaked overnight in plenty of water
750ml water
1 tsp vegetable bouillon powder, or 1 vegetable stock cube

Drain and rinse the split peas.
Add to a saucepan and add the water.
Bring to a fast simmer.
A white foamy scum will float to the top, skim this off.
Stir in the bouillon powder or stock cube.
Cover and lower the temperature to a gentle simmer.
Simmer for 90 minutes or until the peas are tender. They should mush against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Stir vigorously until you have a smooth paste (the odd lump isn’t a problem.)
Season generously with salt and pepper.
Transfer to a basin or covered container and leave to cool.
Serve spread on bread with as many additions as you think necessary!

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54 responses »

  1. Speaking of salty, have you tried the smoked Maldon sea salt? It’s really quite good and would be perfect for this! Or a split pea soup sans the bacon. Best used as a seasoning at the table rather than an ingredient, as is not powerfully smoky but just right to be sprinkled over food.

    • An American friend of mine introduced me to smoked salt. I use the Cornish kind – and you’re dead right it’s great on plain pulses like this – brilliant on lentil soup.

  2. Thanks so much for this recipe! All the other ones I’ve found have eggs in it or bunches of herbs or various other kinds of weirdness – your recipe is pease pudding exactly as I remember it!

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  5. I stumbled upon your site while looking for ideas for a pease pudding and ????? sandwich. I’m now munching on pease pudding and beetroot – deelish! I’ve not made my own before but will have a go at this recipe. Thanks!

    • I have to give credit to my friend Duncan for the beetroot suggestion for pease pudding. Give the recipe a go, though – it’s really easy!

    • In a sealed container it should last up to a week in the fridge – depending on how often you open it. The liquid separating out from the solid is normal – just stir it back in. If it starts looking slimy – don’t risk it.

    • It freezes brilliantly so I divide it into small batches and freeze them, which means you never have a big quantity of pease pudding that you need to use up or throw away if it goes off.

  6. Got a pan of this simmering away on the hob as a type! I’ve just moved away from the north east and I think making regional food is a great way to keep in touch with my roots 🙂 thanks!

    • I make a lentil spread as well, sometimes, but nothing tastes like pease pudding. I resent not being able to buy it in the supermarkets down south!

      • My wife adds a finely chopped onion and some chopped bacon at the cooking stage! Yum, Yum! You can buy tinned peas pudding down south in Tesco and Asda

      • Supermarket pease pudding in tins , is, awful. Sainsburys, tesco, no difference , same make.

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    • I’ve never got along with tinned pease pudding either. This is a really easy recipe to follow. You just need the time to cook it.

  8. Just going to make some for xmas eve meal with boiled gammon and beetroot. I always bring some home when I visit family up north and stottie cake. Yum!

  9. lived in the United States for quite some time, but i just craved pease pudding like me mam made.so I’m going to have a go and introduce my American husband to some good British food, even though he swears there’s no such thing ! I’ll make a believer out of him yet !

    • Good luck! If you’ve never made it before make it sloppier when hot than you think you’ll need. It really firms up when it gets cold.

  10. Hi Sharon and Anthea. I searched the WordPress community for a recipe like this to feature on my blog. (I write a culinary adventure serial.) I enjoyed your write-up on this one. Do you mind if i provide a link to it in Episode-4 my new story? Naturally I’d credit you.
    I enjoyed browsing your blog. Hugs! 🙂

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  12. Hi all, I cook all the pulses in a pressure cooker. Don’t really use it for anything else. It’s a bit scary for pease pudding as it goes into a mush and I worry it will burn. I have some bubbling now that smell takes me back to my mum’s kitchen in the 50’s/60’s even though we lived in South London. I live in Northampton and buy yellow split peas at Daily Bread an excellent cooperative in Northampton that now has an on line National service. So Pease pudding available everywhere in the UK! To be honest I was not quite sure which pulse to buy and was overjoyed when trying the yellow spilt peas and that distinct aroma filled the house.
    Chick peas also cook well in the pressure cooker – it took me a while to get them as soft as they are when you buy them fresh cooked in Spanish corner shops. About 2 hours under pressure does the trick with the water an inch or so over the level of the chick peas when you start. I cook 1Kg at a time and freeze some. Enjoyed reading your blog

  13. Don’t hear of it much here in the south west. I bought a can from supermarket and quite like it, but like everything I expect it’s nicer home made.

    • I think most of the commerical ones just use water to cook the split peas – I use vegetable stock and I think it makes it nicer.

  14. I had a yearning for this just recently. I’ve not had it for a long time and didn’t find your recipe till today so am cooking some as I type with a recipe from the archives of my brain as to how mam made it. Smells lovely, I only hope it’s as tasty as yours sounds! Will do your recipe next time. (Didn’t soak them overnight 😦 )

    • This isn’t my Mam’s recipe! She would only cook pease pudding when she was boiling a ham and she’d add some of the ham stock to the peas. Obviously this recipe doesn’t include that!

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    • There are variations on a theme of pease pudding with recipes from other parts of the country. This one is the NE recipe I grew up with.

  16. Having left the NE umpteen years ago, I always head for non-tinned pease pudding each time I return. (Tinned just isn’t the same). However, northern branches of Sainsburys sell a tasty pot, always worth buying. Very hard to access in the Midlands. Avoid cooking due to the long process but may try slow-pot in which I have created many a yummy dahl. Prefer to add Marmite (low salt) and garlic…..

  17. Do check bought peas pudding as I have come across some with gelatine in ( heaven knows why! ) which as a vegetarian is awful! I make mine with onion and put a bayleaf in too. Must admit, if I want it super smooth I use my hand blender and soak the peas for a while first.

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