Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Bawled Peanuts

I found bags of raw peanuts - "green in the shell" - at the grocery store yesterday and thought I would try to make boiled peanuts for Mr. Sycamore.  As they say here, you used to could find them at the Eastern Market in DC when we lived there, boiling in a big barrel and dipped out for you into a newspaper cone.  You sometimes can find cans of them at the store, but not regularly.  When my husband was growing up in Alabama you could find them along side the road in season.

I looked online and called my mother-in-law from Montgomery.  Here's what you do.

To start, you need raw peanuts.  The package I got included a warning "as with all raw agricultural products it is recommended that you cook these before consuming."  Just as a side note, I read somewhere that among peanut-eating peoples in Africa and Asia, it is much more common to boil or make peanut flour than to dry roast them, and that dry roast is the most difficult to digest.  Peanuts are full of fiber and nutrients, yum.

For 1lb of peanuts (one package) put 8C water in a stockpot with at least 1/4C kosher salt, more to taste (they are supposed to be quite salty).  This is about twice the standard amount of water I found in recipes online, but I trusted Memaw that there should be plenty of water to cover the peanuts and not boil off in the 2-3 hours they need to cook.    When the water is at a rolling boil, add the peanuts.  They will float and there should be enough water for them to boil with some free room.  Bring back to a boil, turn down to medium low, cover, and stir every 20-30 min for at least 2 hours.  Now, Memaw says that you don't need to cover them, and you don't want them to boil over.  For me, I was afraid the water would boil off too fast, so I covered them.  According to Memaw, you don't want them to just simmer, you want to see low boiling - though I suppose if you simmered them you could leave them on longer.  For softer peanuts, boil 3 hours.  Taste them for softness and when they are how you like them or almost, turn the heat off and let them set in the salty water until cool.  The peanuts need a chance to soak in the salt, otherwise it will stay on the shell and in the brine.

You can consume them hot right away, or wait until cool.  If they are too salty for you, rinse and/or soak them in fresh water, but that is not necessary and I hate to mention it because Memaw says not to rinse them (but she is a woman who salted her pizza growing up, so you know she loves her some salt).

If you don't eat them all right away, pack them in an air-tight jar with or without some brine and you can keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.  In our house they won't last that long!

The Southern method to eat them is pop them with your teeth so you get the interior brine, preferably on a porch step if possible, and let the juice and shells fall where they may.

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