PEASE pudding hot, pease pudding cold, pease pudding in the pot - nine days old. This is a nursery rhyme that seems to have disappeared like the dish.

However you liked it, this simple Tyneside institution was a staple food, spread liberally on to a wedge of stottie bread with slices of ham. A person of a certain age would also remember eating it with a hamshank tea.

So what exactly is pease pudding?

This Geordie caviar, from the North East, found its way down to many parts of Yorkshire after the Second World War with people like my Nana who came from South Shields to work in the mills (Emu in her case) around the Keighley area.

I fondly remember my mum making pease pudding served with the hamshank for our Sunday dinner regularly when I was growing up, probably passed onto her from Nana’s Geordie roots when the peas were soaked from Saturday afternoon and overnight in a big pan on the side of the sink.

This was a earthy recipe, sweetened by the peas which complemented the salty ham, a dish born for poverty. Remember Oliver Twist’s ‘Food Glorious Food’ song - “pease pudding and custard and jelly” the orphan boys would sing with hunger.

Pease pudding should be cooked slowly watching the magic of them transforming from their yellow roundness to soft slushy paste. Looking into the origins of pease pudding I found it interesting to read – it’s one of the oldest printed recipes in England, being a common diet for mariners in the 17th century.

It began its life as a medieval pease pottage found across the North East of England, with the word pease in middle England called pea, referring to a type of porridge made from dried split peas which would keep well all the year round.

The rhyme suggests it had a fairly good shelf-life, although we should probably not imagine that it was boiled continuously for nine days. The addition of spices, onions, ham or bacon joints turned the peas into pease pudding, absorbing a lot of stock and having a finished consistency similar to wallpaper paste.

In Yorkshire we eat our mushy peas with fish and chips. These are marrowfat peas, whereas pease pudding is made from mashed carling peas, which extended the main meal getting the most out of the expensive joint.

Give peas a chance – perhaps it’s not as grim up North as we’ve been led to believe. Howay man!

A simple bobby dazzla Pease Pudding recipe

Serves 4 portions


450g/1lb dried split peas, yellow or green (widely available)

1 medium onion, sliced

30g/1 oz butter

1 egg, beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


1. Soak the peas overnight in cold water and then drain.

2. Peel and chop the onion quite finely and put it in a big a saucepan with the peas.

3. Cover the peas with water and add a little salt.

4. Bring the pan to the boil then reduce the heat and place the lid on. Simmer very slowly for around two hours or until the peas are soft.

5. Drain the peas and onion and either push them through a sieve or puree them with an electric blender.

6. Return the puree back to a clean saucepan and place over a very low heat.

7. Add the butter, beaten egg and black pepper to taste and stir all the time until the mixture becomes hot.

8. Serve hot from the pan alongside a bacon, ham or gammon joint.

* Pease pudding makes a great sandwich spread, particularly with slices of ham served in a stottie bread cake or teacake.

* Served fried with bacon and eggs for breakfast.

* Split peas make great soups, baked potato filling, dumplings and corned beef pie filling.