Coping with Global Climate Change: Boiled Peanuts Recipe

So, I admit that it’s been a slow summer for blog entries here and we’ll have something on the political side for tomorrow morning, but in the meantime, I’ve got to tell you about my trip to the River Drive Farmers Market yesterday morning. I got some corn on the cob, which is still super and very cheap. But then I ran across something that I’ve never seen there before: raw peanuts. They’re a southern crop, as those of us who date back at least to the Jimmy Carter presidency know very well.

If you’ve traveled by car much in peanut country, you’ve probably passed plenty of roadside stands where boiled peanuts are sold. One day in Alabama, after feeling bad about never trying any from the many places we passed, I tried to get a sample by buying a can of them in a convenience store. They were really pretty awful and I figured the roadside hawkers must have something significantly better or they would have gone out of business a long time ago.  I chalked it off as a missed opportunity – until yesterday, when I saw quart containers of fresh peanuts at the Wausau farmers market.

Naturally, I was curious. The fellow with the stand kindly explained how he had just decided to give them a try here in Marathon County and he had gotten the seed peanuts from Thailand. Now, I’ve been to Thailand a few times and it’s nothing like Wisconsin; even less so than the Deep South. Anyway, the guy appreciated my interest and he showed me what the peanut plant looks like, since he had a few in the back of his pickup truck, peanuts still attached. (Peanuts are not actually nuts, by the way. They’re legumes. Nuts grow on trees and peanuts mature underground. They’re more like a bean than a nut and they are sometimes called Goober Peas, as immortalized in this Civil War-era song.)

So I picked up a pound and took them home, along with the plant. I left the plant out on the patio where our chipmunks and squirrels can take care of a pound of bird seed in about five minutes. They never touched the raw peanuts, which is proof enough that peanuts are not nuts. The chippies and the squirrels are plenty willing to eat roasted peanuts, but not raw. While I realize that this isn’t much of a recipe, it works – and it will keep you from being unable to enjoy raw peanuts, as my backyard nut eaters apparently are. It’s also a fun project to do with kids and it requires no particular skill. 

So here’s how you boil peanuts:

  1. Rinse the peanuts thoroughly.
  2. Soak them for at least a half hour in cool, clear water. (Sons of the Pio neers song here.)
  3. Put the peanuts in a pot with enough water to cover them well, toss in a quarter cup of salt, cover the pot and bring it to a boil.
  4. Back off the heat and simmer for at least an hour.

After at least an hour, they’re done. Feel free to overdo it a bit. Drain them and give them a little time to cool before you start shucking them, which is easier than regular roasted-in-the-shell peanuts, since they’re soft.

The yield for peanuts isn’t all that great. It’s about like shelling peas. What you see in the bowl here is what I got from a quart container of raw peanuts.  They don’t taste like roasted peanuts and the texture is much different – that’s much like a pea, too. But I will tell you this: they are very good.  And if I drive by a roadside stand again in my travels, I may just stop.

JR

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