Boiled Peanuts were probably brought to the southern United States by slaves. Like other food events (fish fries and seafood boils), peanut boils were social gatherings. During peanut season, extra nuts that had been gathered and not sold were gathered and boiled in salty water over a fire for many hours. This treatment softens the shell and leaves the nut inside with the consistency of a pea or bean. Families and neighbors would gather to share gossip and boiled peanuts. The popularity of boiled peanuts may be related to the Civil War and diminished food supplies for southern citizens.
Although recipes for preparing boiled peanuts were handed down from generation to generation, the first known published recipe was by Almeda Lambert in 1899. As the Twentieth Century began, the soft salty snack continued to rise in popularity. During the 1920s, boiled peanuts became more than just a social gathering event as sales of bags of the treat began, probably around Orangeburg, SC. Eventually, a process for canning the boiled peanuts was developed in order to store and ship them.
If not canned for storage, boiled peanuts should be refrigerated to prevent them from becoming slimy or Moldy. They can also be frozen to be thawed and reheated at a future date. They say the best boiled peanuts are made with fresh green peanuts. Never use peanuts that have been roasted. Today, many people sell flavored boiled peanuts with tastes ranging from bacon to Cajun.
In 2006, Boiled peanuts became boiled peanuts the official snack food of South Carolina. I have to admit here to not being a fan, but I know many people who think boiled peanuts are the greatest. I recommend trying them and making your own decision.
Boiled Peanuts Recipe
- 8 - 10 quarts cold water
- 4 to 5 pounds green (raw) peanuts in shell
- 1 - 1 1/2 Cups of salt to taste
Remove any obvious debris from peanuts and place in a large colander. Rinse with cold water until the water runs clear. Dump the peanuts back into the colander then return to the pot along with the remaining 4 - 6 quarts of water. (There should be at least 2 inches of water above the peanuts.) Add ~ 3 ounces (by measure) of salt per quart. (Note: After making your first batch, you'll be able to judge the amount of salt you need to suit your taste. Later, you may want to experiment with other flavorings as well.) Bring the water to a rapid boil, stirring occasionally. Once the water is boiling rapidly, reduce the heat and cover the pot. Allow to simmer for approximately 4 hours, stirring occasionally and adding water as necessary to keep peanuts covered. (Keep some hot water in a separate pot so you're not adding cold water to the mix.) After 4 hours, pull 1 or 2 peanuts out, open and taste. If there is any crunch at all, they arenít done yet. When they are soft, they are done. If peanuts are not done to taste or texture, continue to check every 10 minutes. Once you are satisfied, drain the peanuts in the colander.
Hint: Whether to eat boiled peanuts hot or at room temperature is an individual choice. Remember, any uneaten boiled peanuts should be refrigerated.