Green Peanut Season: For Southerners It Is the Best Time for Their Favorite Snack
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Peanuts are currently being harvested and if you are lucky enough to be able to snag some fresh green peanuts, you are lucky. As you may know, green peanuts are only available during a short time. Green peanut season, depending on what part of the south, usually lasts from the end of July to late November.
What is a green peanut as opposed to a raw peanut and how can you tell the difference?
Well, it depends on the time of year, when a new crop of peanuts are ready, some are dried or dehydrated to last longer, these are considered raw peanuts and can be eaten year-round. Green peanuts are only available for a short time, you have to get them when it is time to pick, and get them pretty quick. A green peanut is super fresh, and are generally not picked but about a week or less before they start showing up in stores and markets. To me green peanuts are more flavorful. You can create the famous boiled peanuts with either but the raw peanuts will take much longer and often the shell has already gotten woody unlike the green peanuts.
Did you know that North Carolina farmers, produce approximately 102,666 planted acres of peanuts, which equals about 441 million pounds? Did you know North Carolina ranks fifth in the United States in peanut production? North Carolina peanut farmers produce 8% of the nation’s supply. The majority of NC peanuts are consumed out-of-hand as cocktail peanuts, instead of processed into peanut butter or other candies.
Peanuts are super high in protein and Vitamin B. We often take peanuts for granted as being a major crop in the North Carolina picture of agriculture.
If you have never tasted boiled peanuts, now is your chance. This warm salty snack is a staple at fall football games and other events. The basic salty boiled peanut is my personal favorite, but you can change them up by adding sweet and salty spices to your recipe.
Classic Boiled Peanuts
(This recipe is borrowed from Southern Living, but is a pretty common way to cook this treat, I have shared this before but it’s just a good one)
- 1 ½ cups kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 2 pounds raw or green peanuts in the shell
- Mix 2 gallons of water and ½ cup of salt in a large stockpot, stir to dissolve. Add raw peanuts (if you are using green peanuts, which I prefer, you can skip this step). Use a large dinner plate to help weigh down the peanuts and keep them in the water. Soak for 8 hours or overnight.
- Drain soaking water, add 2 gallons fresh water and 1 cup salt to the peanuts. Bring them to a boil then reduce the heat to low.Simmer, covered, until peanuts are soft, 5 to 8 hours (2 to 3 hours for green peanuts), keeping the water in pot within an inch or so of its original level with regular additions of water.
After the peanuts have boiled for 3 hours (1 hour for green peanuts), sample one to check for texture and salinity. If it crunches, keep cooking. If the brine lacks salt, add more by ¼-cup amounts. If it is too salty, remove some of the water, and replace with the same volume of fresh water. Sample peanuts every hour until they are pleasantly tender and salty.
- Remove from heat, and let the peanuts cool in the pot for 1 hour (20 minutes for green peanuts). When cool enough to handle, drain and eat. Or store in the shell, in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 7-10 days or in the freezer for several months.
Roasted Raw Peanuts
- 1 pound shelled peanuts, or 1 ½ pounds unshelled peanuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the raw peanuts, either shelled or unshelled, in a single layer inside a shallow baking pan.
- For the shelled peanuts, bake for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring once or twice during cooking, until the skins become loose and the peanuts are lightly golden. For unshelled peanuts, bake for 20 to 25 minutes, stiffing once or twice during cooking, until the shells are lightly golden brown. The peanuts will continue some more when removed from the oven.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before eating. Sprinkle the shelled peanuts with salt, spices, or dried herbs for a tasty twist before roasting, or while they are still warm.
Sweet Candied Peanut Treats
- 3 cups white granulated sugar
- 1 ½ cups water
- 6 cups raw peanuts
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spray a baking sheet or baking pan with baking spray and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, add sugar and water and heat over medium heat until sugar has melted, and you no longer see any sugar granules.
- Add peanuts, vanilla, and cinnamon.
- Continue to cook, stirring frequently until peanuts are sugar crusted and no liquid remains on the bottom of the pan when you stir.
- Remove from heat and place onto prepared baking sheet. Spread peanuts out into as even of a layer as possible.
- Place in a preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring at least once. Remove from oven and stir to make sure there are no peanuts stuck to the pan. Set aside to cool.
- Once completely cooled, store in airtight containers or baggies.
Boiled Peanut Hummus
(It does take a bit to shell a bunch of boiled peanuts)
- 1 cup shelled boiled peanuts
- ¼ cup water
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 1½ teaspoons hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh garlic
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- Olive oil
- Garnish: fresh cilantro sprigs
- Process peanuts, water, cilantro, lime juice, 2 Tbsp. olive oil, peanut butter, hot sauce, garlic, and cumin in a food processor until smooth. Sprinkle with pepper.
- Serve with any fresh vegetables or crackers. Garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs.
Boiled Peanut Salad
- I cup shelled boiled peanuts
- 2 small cucumber, peeled and cubed
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons coriander leaves, finely chopped
- Juice of half a lemon
- ¼ teaspoon red chili pepper
- 1 teaspoon of chaat masala or curry powder
- Salt to taste
- Chop all of the vegetables, removing any skins, seeds, or stems.
- In a large mixing bowl, add all the ingredients and toss well until all ingredients are mixed and well-seasoned.
- Set aside for 15 minutes or refrigerate for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend prior serving. Enjoy!