Boiled peanuts have been popular in the south since at least the civil war when our troops used to carry them as a large part of their rations. With salt being a natural preservative, the boiled peanuts could be carried and eaten for up to a week, providing a quick nutritional source on the go and helping to make up for the piteous lack of meat in the southern soldier’s diet.
The first time I ever had boiled peanuts was when I was a girl, not more then seven or eight. My family and I took the first of many trips to the Smokey Mountains with a set of grandparents, my mother’s father and stepmother whom we called Papa Reed and Cornetha. (I’ve told y’all I had thirteen grandparents when I was born, remember?). We were driving up these winding roads through the smokey mountains and Cornetha saw a roadside vender and wanted to stop. I was curious as to what would get her so excited and when she bought a cup of wet peanuts, my curiosity was piqued. They had steam coming from them and the most delicious smell that set my stomach to grumbling. Cornetha shared them with me and likely ended up sharing a lot more than she got herself after I had a taste of my first one!
Y’all know I just had to have them again, but how to get them? I can cook them myself, as I show here, but I still love getting to pull over at a stop sign and trade a few bills for a warm steaming cup. Problem solved: I just married a Georgian so we could go visit his family and I could get them then! (alright, I might have married him for a few other reasons, but lets try to stay on point here, shall we?).
I have always been jealous of Georgians. Not the country, but the state (although I am sure the country is lovely as well). Georgians have it made in a way that us North Alabamians can never have. You see, as soon as the slightest chill hits the air little tents, trucks, and roadside stands start setting up on street corners for one purpose – to sell boiled peanuts to fortunate passerbys. With over 45% of the country’s peanut crop grown there, its no wonder boiled peanuts are in such abundance, but the fact that I have not once seen them in my neck of the woods is a shame worth crying over!
For those of you who don’t want to marry a Georgian (or who may not have single Georgians readily available), here is how you can have this southern delicacy in the comfort of your own home – while still maintaining a relationship with your non-Georgian spouse.
You’ll need: Raw or green peanuts and salt. You can’t make boiled peanuts with roasted peanuts, they have to be raw, or green as they are sometimes called. I got a pound package. You can use a larger amount and just add a bit more salt to taste. If this is your first time with boiled peanuts, start with a cup and then taste it after a few hours, adding a few more tablespoons if you want a saltier peanut.
For the salt, just use plain old table salt. Southerners don’t get fancy with this stuff. Its part of our charm :).
Place peanuts in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the peanuts, although they will float to the top for now anyway. Add 1 cup of salt and stir.
Cover the pot with a lid and cook on about medium heat, until it comes to a good boil, then simmer it. These are going to need to cook for about three hours but can cook longer if you like. I cook mine most of the day. The texture you are going for is just slightly firmer than a cooked bean.
After they are done being cooked, if they are too salty for you (Personally, I don’t believe in such a thing as “too salty” when it comes to these!), simply add a few more cups of water to dilute the cooking water and cook for half an hour more or so. If they are not salty enough (You go, you!), add a bit more salt and give it a half hour as well to get good and incorporated. The amount of salt I am listing here is what I have found perfect to replicate the roadside peanuts I love so much.
Now how to eat a boiled peanut!
The way you eat a boiled peanut is EVERYTHING!!!
Place the entire, uncracked peanut shell in your mouth. Yes, I am serious. Don’t get all fretful about germs and such, my goodness you just boiled them for several hours. Now do like I said and pop that entire peanut in your mouth, With your mouth closed (unless you want to squirt your neighbor in the face with salty peanut juice), crack the shell open and drink the juice out of it. Then open it the rest of the way and take the shell out of your mouth, while eating the soft peanuts inside. After a few of these, you’ll understand why the roadside vendors always give you a plastic bag or cup to hold your shells!
My mouth is watering just thinking about it.