Boiled Peanuts


Slurp ‘em like oysters I say! Boiled Peanuts are something like a soft cooked bean (duh! It’s a legume!) in a firm, inedible, shell. They are also addicting.

During my very first job at the produce stand I would snack on green beans and boiled peanuts.  In the heat of the Florida summer, I sat in front of a big round wind machine parked under the shade and pitched my shells to the ground around me.  The shells were creating a fine carpet and I tried to toss strategically to fill holes. Soon we would be sitting on a substantial refuse midden.

Boiled peanuts are best enjoyed outside on a warm day relaxing with a frosty beverage at your side. Outside is key because people don’t usually appreciate when you toss peanut shells on the floor, especially when they are juicy. First,  I crack the shell with my teeth, like a southern lady. Then I suck the juice out before I pop it open with my fingers to extract the soft bean. The process is similar to eating crawfish.  The results are tender juicy and salty morsels.

Super easy to make, boiled peanuts require nothing more than peanuts, salt, and water. I will go out on a limb and say the most popular are Cajun style. They have a good kick. The only thing that you could possibly do wrong here is use the wrong peanut. Be sure to use RAW peanuts. Raw peanuts will be labeled as raw or green. Do not bother trying to make boiled peanuts with average roasted peanuts; it just will not work. They will never soften properly.

A green peanut is not green in color, just freshly harvested. It takes ninety to a hundred days to grow peanuts for boiling, and they are available only during May through November throughout the southern states.

No one knows just why southerners started boiling peanuts or who was the first to boil them. However, it is believed that boiled peanuts have been a southern institution since at least the Civil War (1861-1865), when Union General William T. Sherman led his troops on their march through Georgia. Being in Georgia, the land of the peanuts (and future home of peanut farmer President Jimmy Carter), when troops of the Confederacy were without food, peanuts became an important nutritional source.

It was during the slave-trading years of the 17th and 18th centuries that the peanut was first brought to the southeastern United States, and for a long time it was assumed that the peanut had originated in Africa. However, peanuts actually originated in Brazil and Peru later to be brought over from Africa.

Peanuts and peanut butter contain protein and fiber, offering about as much fiber as ½ cup of broccoli. On their own, they are a naturally low sodium food but I doubt boiled peanuts are considered ‘low sodium’ when I make them.  Peanuts are also nutrition rich, providing loads of essential nutrients. They are also a good source of niacin, folate, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. Peanuts are naturally free of trans-fats and sodium, and have a higher protein content than in any true nut. Snack on!

Boiled Peanuts 101

  • 1lb raw peanuts
  • large pot or crock pot
  • 1/4c salt
  • 1/4c red pepper flakes

FYI: I took a best guess at proportions here. I start with a good handful of each salt and pepper and then adjust throughout the cooking process.  Keep in mind that more seasoning will be absorbed the longer the ‘nuts sit. Bring to a boil, reduce to low and cook overnight or until the peanuts are soft. Add more water as needed, keeping the peanuts covered and the pot full. By the time the peanuts are soft, they will have absorbed a fair bit of liquid and will not longer float.

If you have a large enough pot make a double batch and freeze or can a portion of it so that you can enjoy these out of season. A fun game is to set them out at a picnic, watch the puzzlement, and then watch them disappear!

3 responses to “Boiled Peanuts

  1. good day
    i’m from russia 🙂 and i liked your blog very much – i also love cooking, use old recepies, construct new…
    but i have a problem here – i know what is lb in our metric system, but what do you mean “c”? 1/4 of what i need to use for good proportion of salt an pepper (you mean hot pepper, as i understand)? and how much water i need?

    • i dont know how much help i can be, i can not truly tell you how much water you will need. the amount of water depends on how big of a pot you use, how much water they peanuts abosorbs, etc. start with eough water to cover the peanuts (this could be tough to gauge because the raw peanuts float). A ‘c’ is a cup measurement but you can just add a handful of hot red pepper flakes. this is not an exact recipe but i can tell you it is almost impossible to over salt these..

  2. cup = glass = 250 g?
    impossible to oversalt? that’s interesting 🙂 i want to try to cook this on saturday may be 🙂 soooo, i’ll tell you the result 🙂

    and i’ll try to translate some my recepies if you interested 🙂

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