Mushy peas
Mushy peas are dried marrowfat peas
Marrowfat peas
Marrowfat peas are green mature peas that have been allowed to dry out naturally in the field, rather than be harvested in their prime of youth like the normal garden pea. They are used to make mushy peas and also the snack food wasabi peas....

 which are first soaked overnight in water and then simmered with a little sugar and salt until they form a thick green lumpy soup. They are a traditional British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 accompaniment to fish and chips
Fish and chips
Fish and chips is a popular take-away food in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Canada...

 and sometimes mint
Mentha is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae . The species are not clearly distinct and estimates of the number of species varies from 13 to 18. Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally...

 is used as a flavouring. All over Britain
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, but particularly associated with Northern England
Northern England
Northern England, also known as the North of England, the North or the North Country, is a cultural region of England. It is not an official government region, but rather an informal amalgamation of counties. The southern extent of the region is roughly the River Trent, while the North is bordered...

 they are commonly served as part of the popular snack of pie and peas
Pie and peas
Pie and peas is a traditional meal in the north of England, consisting of an individual raised pork pie made with hot water crust pastry and served with mushy peas and mint sauce.-History:The pies are normally bought rather than home-made...

 (akin to the Australian pie floater
Pie floater
A pie floater is a meal available in Australia, particularly South Australia which consists of the traditional Australian style meat pie sitting, usually inverted, in a plate of thick green pea soup. It is typically covered with tomato sauce and, although subject to the taste of the individual...

, but with mushy peas instead of a thick pea soup) and are considered a part of traditional British cuisine
British cuisine
English cuisine encompasses the cooking styles, traditions and recipes associated with England. It has distinctive attributes of its own, but also shares much with wider British cuisine, largely due to the importation of ingredients and ideas from places such as North America, China, and India...

. Mushy peas can also be bought in tinned cans. They are also sometimes served in batter
Batter (cooking)
Batter is a semi-liquid mixture of one or more flours combined with liquids such as water, milk or eggs used to prepare various foods. Often a leavening agent such as baking powder is included to aerate and fluff up the batter as it cooks, or the mixture may be naturally fermented for this purpose...

 as a pea fritter
A fritter is any kind of food coated in batter and deep fried. Although very similar to a doughnut it differs in the fact that it requires some base ingredient beyond the dough it is cooked with.-Anglo-American fritters:...


Local variants

In Yorkshire
Yorkshire is a historic county of northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Because of its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been increasingly undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform...

, Nottinghamshire
Nottinghamshire is a county in the East Midlands of England, bordering South Yorkshire to the north-west, Lincolnshire to the east, Leicestershire to the south, and Derbyshire to the west...

, Derbyshire
Derbyshire is a county in the East Midlands of England. A substantial portion of the Peak District National Park lies within Derbyshire. The northern part of Derbyshire overlaps with the Pennines, a famous chain of hills and mountains. The county contains within its boundary of approx...

 and parts of Lincolnshire
Lincolnshire is a county in the east of England. It borders Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the north west, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north. It also borders...

, they are often served as a snack on their own. They are traditionally accompanied by mint sauce
Mint Sauce
Mint sauce is a sauce traditionally made from finely chopped spearmint leaves, soaked in vinegar, and a small amount of sugar. Occasionally, the juice from a squeezed lime is added. The sauce should have the consistency of double cream...

, and sold at open-air events such as fairs or fêtes. In Derbyshire, mushy peas served with chips is called a 'pea mix'. Mushy peas are also popular in Scotland served with fish and chips or a wetter version with vinegar in a bowl.

Mushy peas are often playfully referred to as "Yorkshire caviar", more in reference to the stereotype of Yorkshiremen as dour folk who won't spend money on luxuries than through any similarity between the soft green legume dish and sturgeons' roe. The nickname has stuck, though, and been seen as far afield as Bristol.

A variant (particularly popular around Bolton
Bolton is a town in Greater Manchester, in the North West of England. Close to the West Pennine Moors, it is north west of the city of Manchester. Bolton is surrounded by several smaller towns and villages which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the...

, Bury
Bury is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the River Irwell, east of Bolton, west-southwest of Rochdale, and north-northwest of the city of Manchester...

 and Preston, Lancashire, is parched peas
Black Peas
Black peas, also called parched peas or maple peas, form a traditional Lancashire dish served often on or around Bonfire Night . The dish, popular in Rochdale, Oldham, Wigan, Bury and Bolton, is made from the purple podded pea which is long soaked overnight and simmered to produce a type of mushy...

– carlin peas (also known as maple peas, or black peas) are soaked and then boiled slowly and for a long time; the peas are traditionally served with vinegar.

Norwich Market
Norwich Market
Norwich Market is an outdoor market consisting of around 200 stalls in central Norwich, England. Founded in the latter part of the 11th century to supply Norman merchants and settlers moving to the area following the Norman conquest of England, it replaced an earlier market a short distance...

 has a permanent stall devoted to mushy peas. The stall has primarily sold mushy peas - without any colouring - for the last 60 years every day except Sunday (market closed). It is known to be the oldest such stall in East Anglia - possibly the UK.

Artificial colouring

Green colouring is often used to colour mushy peas. It is typically achieved by adding the yellow and blue additives, E102
Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring...

 and E133
Brilliant Blue FCF
Brilliant Blue FCF , also known under commercial names, is a colorant for foods and other substances to induce a color change. It is denoted by E number E133 and has a color index of 42090. It has the appearance of a reddish-blue powder...

, which together produce the green effect. The use of artificial colours results in bright green mushy peas. Pure mushy peas, with no colouring, tend to form a more grey-green end product. Sodium bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate
Sodium bicarbonate or sodium hydrogen carbonate is the chemical compound with the formula Na HCO3. Sodium bicarbonate is a white solid that is crystalline but often appears as a fine powder. It has a slightly salty, alkaline taste resembling that of washing soda . The natural mineral form is...

 is often added to soften the peas to enhance the colour and to inhibit fermentation
Fermentation (biochemistry)
Fermentation is the process of extracting energy from the oxidation of organic compounds, such as carbohydrates, using an endogenous electron acceptor, which is usually an organic compound. In contrast, respiration is where electrons are donated to an exogenous electron acceptor, such as oxygen,...

 during soaking, which reduces later flatulence
Flatulence is the expulsion through the rectum of a mixture of gases that are byproducts of the digestion process of mammals and other animals. The medical term for the mixture of gases is flatus, informally known as a fart, or simply gas...

 in consuming said foods. The British Food Standards Agency
Food Standards Agency
The Food Standards Agency is a non-ministerial government department of the Government of the United Kingdom. It is responsible for protecting public health in relation to food throughout the United Kingdom and is led by a board appointed to act in the public interest...

, on 28 April 2008, asked for a voluntary ban on artificial food colourings and suggested that the ban would be practical by the end of 2009. This would mean that certain foods, including mushy peas, would need to be free of the additive, otherwise the item might be removed from sale. Mushy peas present a particular problem since there is presently no alternative to tartrazine
Tartrazine is a synthetic lemon yellow azo dye used as a food coloring...

 (E102), that gives it the bright green colour. Without the colourant
A colourant or colorant is something added to something else to cause a change in colour. Colourants can be:* Dyes* Pigments* Biological pigments* Inks* Paint* Coloured chemicals...

the dish would be murky grey. Ministers have stated that they will pursue a ban through law if food manufacturers do not phase out the food colourings.
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