Monday, April 23, 2012

Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts are a distinctly southern snack.  In fact, depending on where you are from, you may have never heard of boiled peanuts.  Or if you have heard of them, you may have turned your nose up at the very thought.  They are one of those foods that you either love or hate, and many people decide they hate them before they give them a fair shake. 

In North Carolina, boiled peanuts can often be found in some of the strangest places.  Growing up, my family always looked forward to eating them as a snack on trips to the mountains.  They used to be very popular roadside snacks, and they can still be found being sold in a large pot on the side of the road in smaller, rural towns.  In the city I live in now, there is a man who sets up to sell them each Saturday by the train tracks next to his house, and a gas station I stop at frequently sells them from a slow cooker throughout the day. 

Boiled peanuts are very different from roasted ones.  Since peanuts are a legume, they are soft and bean-like when cooked.  Most people like them on the salty side, and the best way to eat them is to use your teeth to crack the shell open just enough to suck all the salty juice out.  Then you can finish cracking and eat the nuts themselves.  They are soft and creamy, and they are equally good hot or cold.  The shells of boiled peanuts are discarded (don't be like a friend of mine who tried to eat them only to find that they were tough). 

This is what the green peanuts look like when you buy them.
To make boiled peanuts, you must use raw peanuts.  These are often called green peanuts at the store and farmers' market.  They will need to be cooked anywhere from 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours, and you will know they are ready by testing them.  The peanuts inside the shell should be soft and tender.  At that point, they will need to cool in the cooking liquid to soak up the salty brine.  

Boiled Peanuts

This is more a method than a recipe.  The amount of salt and water will depend on how many pounds of peanuts you purchase.  A good rule of thumb is to use a heaping 1 tablespoon of salt to every quart of water.  When I boil two pounds of peanuts, I generally use about 2 quarts of water and two heaping tablespoons of salt.  This gives me a little over two quart jars of cooked peanuts.    

2 pounds green peanuts in their shells, washed
kosher salt  

Place the peanuts in a large pot.  Cover by about 1 inch with water.  Add 1 heaping tablespoon salt for every quart of water you use.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours until the peanuts inside the shells are tender.  Remove the pot from the heat and allow the peanuts to cool at least 30 minutes to soak up some of the brine.  Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.  Some people drain the peanuts, but I prefer to keep them in the remaining liquid when I put them in jars.  They will keep about a week in the refrigerator.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the recipe. Have eaten boiled peanuts all my life and will continue now that I can make my own.