Greetings! I am thrilled that the "Goddess of Eats" has invited me to contribute to her blog occasionally! I look forward to visiting with you through this venue. To learn more about my life, visit the "about" tab on the right side of the blog homepage. - Leah Belle
Fall is such a beautiful time of year. Down here in the Deep South, fall does not necessarily mean cooler weather. But it does mean hay bales and cotton harvest and peanuts.
Our small town (and the entire region) is bustling with tractors working on harvesting peanuts. Our roads are busy with peanut-laden wagons, and in the air is the sound of the peanut driers at the local co-ops.
Since moving to this area of the U.S., I have learned a lot about peanuts and how they are grown. Did you know the peanut is not actually a nut? It is a member of the legume or bean family. Peanut fields are rows of pretty green mounds of plants that produce peanuts underground. Yes, peanuts grow underground!
When it is time to harvest the peanuts, a tractor and implement will lift the plants from the ground, gently shake the soil from the peanuts and turn the plants upside down. The plants and peanuts are then left in the field to dry.
In the photo on the left, you can see the plants in the machine as they are dropped back on to the field. The photo on the right shows the upside down plants with the peanuts laid out to dry in the sun.
After several days of drying, the peanuts will be harvested with a combine. This machine separates the plant from the nut, returning the plant to the field and storing the nuts in a basket on the top of the machine.
These peanuts have been drying in the field for several days and are ready to be picked.
Peanut plants are being swept up into the combine where the plant and peanut will be separated.
These peanuts are placed into peanut wagons and taken to the local co-op to be dried even more. At the co-op, warm air is circulated through the peanut wagon for long periods in order to reduce the moisture content of the peanut. The moisture must be greatly reduced to prepare the peanuts for storage.
As you might expect, the residents of Southeast Alabama love to eat peanuts. Not only do we eat them roasted and salted like the rest of the country does, but we also like them boiled! Before peanuts are considered ripe, some of the “green” peanuts are harvested and boiled. Boiling makes the peanuts soft. Add a little salt, and a delicacy is born.
There are two ways to boil peanuts.
To boil them the traditional way, wash two pounds of green peanuts well. Place them in large pot. Pour in enough water to almost fill the pot. Add 3T salt and stir. Cover and cook over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat only enough to prevent water from boiling over. Add water as needed to keep peanuts under water. When adding water, increase heat to high until peanuts are boiling again. Boil for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Test to see if they are done by spooning out a peanut, cooling briefly, opening the shell and biting into one. Boiled peanuts should be soft, not crunchy or hard. Drain, rinse well and cool slightly before serving.
A quicker method for boiling peanuts is to use the pressure cooker. This is my favorite way to cook them.
Wash 2-3 pounds of peanuts in the shell in cold water until the water runs clear.
Soak peanuts in cool clean water for 45 minutes before cooking. This helps soften the peanuts which enables them to absorb the salt during cooking.
Place peanuts, 2/3 cup of salt and enough water to cover the peanuts in the pressure cooker. The amount of salt can be adjusted to taste.
Cook for 45 minutes at about 10 pounds of pressure.
After cooking, allow the peanuts to cool in the water.
Enjoy this southern delicacy, then store leftovers in the freezer.
Better yet, head on down to Southeast Alabama during the fall, and we’ll visit on the back porch over a tall glass of sweet tea and a big bowl of peanuts!