Categories:Deep South Food HIstory Nuts & Seeds
Boiled Peanuts – the Southern Snack Food
Boiled peanuts are a traditional snack food in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, northern Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi (I have heard that Texans also enjoy this custom). They are an acquired taste, but according to southerners, they are totally addictive.
Did you known that the “ed” in boiled peanuts is silent? Often signs will say Boil P-Nuts.
Boiled peanuts are green or raw nuts that are boiled in salty water for hours outdoors over a fire. The shells turn soggy, and the peanuts take on a fresh, legume flavor. 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. One of the drawbacks of boiled peanuts is that they have a very short shelf life unless refrigerated or frozen. If you leave them out on the kitchen counter for 3 to 4 days, they become slimy and smelly!
From May through November, all over the south, you will see roadside stands – ranging from woodsheds to shiny trailers – offering fresh boiled peanuts. Sometimes they are hard to open with your fingers, and you must resort to using your teeth, but according to most people, they are worth the trouble.
Southerners will also tell you that boiled peanuts should always be accompanied by a beer, sweet tea, or a soft drink (Coca Cola). Traditionally they are eaten outside where it does not matter if wet shells are tossed or spit on the ground.
History of Boiled Peanuts:
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 (1820-1891) led his troops on their march through Georgia. As a result of General Sherman’s campaign in Georgia, the Confederacy was split in two and deprived of much needed supplies.
Contemporary writings are full of complaints of lack of bread and meat. The great concern of the Confederate government was to feed the army. When troops of the Confederacy were without food, peanuts were an important nutritional source. Since cooking facilities were scarce, soldiers roasted the peanuts over campfires or boiled them. It seems to be lost in history as to who came up with the idea of adding salt to the peanuts when boiling them. What they were doing by boiling in salt, is an ancient preservation technique. It was discovered that these boiled peanuts would keep and not spoil in their kits for up to seven day. The salt works as a preservative, and the boiling kills impurities and bacteria. This produced a high protein ration that could be carried by the soldier. As salt was also scarce during the Civil War, history doesn’t tell us how the confederate soldiers had enough salt to use, unless salt meat, a large part of the army ration, was used somehow.
Confederate soldiers also adopted peanuts as a cheap coffee substitute along with parched rye, wheat, corn, sweet potatoes, chestnuts, chicory, and cotton seed. Some history books note that Confederate soldiers from Georgia were known as “goober grabbers.”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.
Salted Peanuts and Coca Cola:
How did this combination of salted peanuts and Coke get started? According to Southerners, the thing was to get a bottle of Coke and a pack of salted peanuts from the vending machine, dump the peanuts into the bottle, drink, and then eat the Coke-soaked salty peanuts.
Southerners in the United States have a unique way of enjoying salted peanuts. Combining the sweet, ice-cold goodness of Coca-Cola with the salty crunch of peanuts is a practice that goes back for generations and brings back fond memories for Southerners of all ages. According to John T. Edge of the Southern Foodways Alliance (an organization documents, studies, and celebrates the diverse food cultures of the changing American South).
Edge believes the combo was likely born of country store commerce. Think of Coke and peanuts as a prototype fast-food for the 20th century South. Although there is no written record, the first package of peanuts may have been poured into a glass bottle of Coke as early as the 1920s. Packaged, already shelled peanuts from Planters, Lance and Tom’s began showing up at country stores and filling stations where the familiar contour bottle of Coke was already being sold.
2006 – On May 1, 2006, Gov. Mark Sanford came to York County and officially signed into law, H.4585, to make the boiled peanut South Carolina’s official state snack food. Tom Stanford, a Winthrop University graduate, came up with the idea in a government class because he likes boiled peanuts:
SECTION 1. The General Assembly finds that boiled peanuts are a delicious and popular snack food that are found both in stores and roadside stands across the State, and this unique snack food is defined as peanuts that are immersed in boiling water for at least one hour while still in the shell. The General Assembly further finds that this truly Southern delicacy is worthy of designation as the official state snack food.
Boiled Peanuts Recipe – How To Boil Green Peanuts:
Judging from the many variations on recipes for boiled peanuts, there appears to be no wrong way to boil green peanuts. The important thing is the many tastings needed to determine when they are done. You must taste test the boiled peanuts for saltiness and firmness, as some people prefer soft nuts to firmer ones.
4 to 5 pounds green peanuts in shell*
4 to 6 quarts water
1 cup plain salt per gallon of water
* Only use peanuts that are green (uncured). Not the color green, but farm fresh harvested peanuts which are called green peanuts. These green peanuts are available from grocery stores, food distributors, and farmers markets, during the growing season in the South. The peanuts must not be roasted or already cooked or dried.
Wash unshelled peanuts thoroughly in cold water until water runs clear (removing loose soil and sprouts, stems, weeds, and leaves); then soak in cool, clean water for approximately 30 minutes before cooking.
In a large heavy pot, place soaked peanuts and cover completely with water. Stir to “settle” the peanuts. Add enough water to cover the peanuts by 2 inches or more.
Add 1 cup of salt per gallon of water used. Other spices or seasonings (such as shrimp or crab boil, Cajun seasoning, chili powder, and other strong spices) may be added at this point, if desired.
Bring water to a boil and then reduce the heat and let the peanuts simmer, covered, for approximately 4 hours (may take longer), stirring occasionally, and then taste. Add additional water as needed to keep the peanuts covered.
Taste again in 10 minutes, both for salt and texture. Keep cooking and tasting until the peanuts reach desired texture (when fully cooked, the texture of the peanut should be similar to that of a cooked dry pea or bean). To check whether they are done, pull 1 or 2 peanuts out of the pot and crack them open. When they are soft, they are done. If they are still slightly crunchy, they are not done yet, If they are not salty enough, leave them in the salted water and turn off the heat.
NOTE: The cooking time of boiled peanuts varies according to the maturity of the peanuts used and the variety of peanuts. The cooking time for a “freshly pulled” or green peanut is shorter than for a peanut that has been stored for a time.
Remove from heat and drain peanuts after cooking or they will absorb salt and become over salted.
Peanuts may be eaten hot or at room temperature, or chilled in the refrigerator and eaten cold, shelling as you eat them. The peanuts may be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to one (1) week.
Freezing boiled peanuts: Prepare peanuts as indicated above. Drain, allow to cool, and freeze in airtight containers. They will keep indefinitely.
Canning Boiled Peanuts: Prepare peanuts and brine the same as for boiling for immediate use. Pack peanuts into sterilized jars to within one-half inch of the top, using equal weights of peanuts and hot brine (212F). Partially submerge containers in upright position in boiling water for 10 minutes. Seal while hot and process 45 minutes at 10 pounds pressure. Cool containers in water, label, and store away from heat.
Comments from readers:
John (Jack) Gunderson (7/13/16): Selling “fresh, boil-l-ed, peanuts!” on the streets of Valdosta as a boy in the 1940s for 10 cents a bag, in which I made a penny.
Thanks for your article. This was my first “job.” Every Saturday morning I would walk to “The Peanut Man’s” back yard with a huge black pot over a wood fire to get 20 bags in a woven wood basket. They had been boiling for hours and were done – ready to load me up. I raced into town to get the best spots, which were the “Five and Dime,” the movie theater, the hardware store, and, for me, across the railroad tracks into the “colored” part of town. I sold lots of bags there, without telling my parents because they considered it to be dangerous. I was the only boy I knew of who went there! If lucky, I raced back to the Peanut Man in time for another 20 bags and race back to town (about a half mile). This job was exciting for me and taught me to be organized and goal oriented and self confident. I am 80 years of age now and some of my best memories are of my job selling “Fresh!, Boil-l-ed Peanuts!” Thank you, again.
Henry L. Neuman Salcedo (5/09/11):
Boiled Peanuts Tip: When you boil your own peanuts, snap off the tip of each raw peanut before boiling them. This will add flavor to the peanuts and it will be easier for you to open them at the end.
Karen Garner of Huntsville, AL (2/10/10):
Cooking in a Slow Cooker (Crock Pot): Loved all the letters on boiled peanuts. For inside cooking, an easy way to make boiled peanuts is in the slow cooker (crock pot). Soak nuts then put salt water and peanuts in the cooker. Put on slow (low) cook and let the peanuts cook all night. Check if tender or salty enough. If not to your liking, add more salt and water if, needed, and cook longer. Delicious!
C. Marni (12/16/09):
I am a native Californian, transplanted to Wisconsin, moved back to California, moved to Colorado and now back in SE Wisconsin. As a child and adult, I have never liked peanuts! When I became an adult, I learned to like peanuts, as long as it was with something sweet (peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter and honey, peanuts and chocolate), but to this day, I still can’t eat a peanut or peanut butter by itself.
I was introduced to boiled peanuts when I lived in Colorado. My ex-husband’s cousin was from Alabama. She visited her hometown and returned with all her favorites…….boiled peanuts, sugar cane, cane syrup and a dark purple berry that I can’t remember the name now. Boy, did I instantly fall in love with the boiled peanuts! I’ve discovered that if a person loves roasted peanuts, they have a hard time liking boiled peanuts (but it’s probably because they can’t get used to the texture & taste). I could only find the canned kind up here in Wisconsin and it was from a store that specialized in southern foods (they trucked it up here themselves).
My current husband in an over-the-road trucker and makes it down to the southern states once in awhile. I asked him to keep an eye out for boiled peanuts for me. He just called me and said he found a roadside stand and picked up 3 bags for me and a bag of green peanuts. The vendor told him how to boil them. That’s how I came across your website, looking for a recipe! It was great to read about the history and to read everyone’s comments. I will mention boiled peanuts to the native Wisconsinites and 99% of them have never heard of them! My ex-mother-in-law was from Mississippi and I remember hearing her stories about peanuts in her Coke. And, she used to always dunk her biscuits in her buttermilk! Thanks for letting me share!
Roz in Alice Springs, Australia (11/25/09):
I come from central Queensland in Australia. Actually I live in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory now (in the middle of the Outback as we call it), but I originally come from Queensland.
My father used to boil raw peanuts in the shell in his corned beef water. His recipe is the one I use today. After boiling and simmering the corned beef in water with a quarter cup of brown vinegar, a quarter cup of brown sugar, a small handful each of peppercorns, pimento and mustard seeds, a few cloves and a couple of bay leaves, we remove the meat and add the peanuts and cook for several hours. I don’t know if other Queenslanders boil them this way, but that’s how I grew up with them. The salt in the corned beef means that you don’t need to add any extra to the water. I put a few handfuls of peanuts into the water in a large pot, just enough for them to float.
Glad to see we are not the only boiled peanut lovers in the world. Don’t know where the idea came from in Australia. Will have to do some research.
Bobby Blackwell (8/29/09):
I live in Columbia, South Carolina in the heart of SC. I grew up visiting the Capitol building. There was an elderly gentleman who sat on the grounds selling peanuts both roasted and boiled in hand-sized bags. If I was going to eat them, I bought boiled peanuts. If I was going to feed the squirrels and pigeons, I bought parched peanuts. If you wanted to walk a ways, you could get peanuts from Cromer’s Store on Assembly Street. They are advertised, and still do, as “The worst peanuts in town!” Everybody knew it was just the opposite.
For the last few years, I have found a man who cooks up some wonderful peanuts at the local Barnyard Flea Market. But the best ones are between September and November when he gets something he calls “Big Whites.” Every week they get bigger until he calls them Jumbos. These white peanuts are hands down better than any red peanut that ever took root. But the Jumbos are unbelievable. When boiled, the shells stay light in color. But when you pop them open, it is like butter. I just ate one that was 4-inches long and every nut was over -inches long. A handful of these babies is a meal, and they are the best tasting peanuts you ever ate. Several farmers in this area are beginning to grow them but the supply still doesn’t keep up with demand.
These are some of the first to come in this season. Right now they are mixed in with smaller finger size ones. They will all be this size and bigger and will get even better in a month or so. That’s a quarter.
A northern friend of mine years ago came to South Carolina and in the course of events tasted boiled peanuts. He said, “It’s like eating dirt!” When the Jumbos come in this same guy normally buys two $10.00 bags (3/4 gal. each) every other week. They are that good. There are some calling my name right now.
Randy of Grayson, GA (7/25/09):
I’ve lived in Georgia 43 of my 45 years and almost all my family is here. I grew up eating boiled peanuts in the summer. It was always a treat when my dad would stop at a roadside stand, usually one selling fresh fruits and veggies, and buy a couple of bags of boiled peanuts.
I’d never tried to boil peanuts myself until recently. I hadn’t had any in several years and the urge finally overcame me. As I’ve not found a local roadside stand, I decided to buy some raw peanuts at the store and try boiling them myself. I followed your recipe and found that apparently the peanuts I got were not real fresh, as it took 9 hours to boil them on the stove. Also, the recipe says to taste occasionally for texture and salt content. I ‘d followed the recipe and added a half cup of salt for 2 pounds of peanuts, however, after several hours, I could not taste the salt at all, so I added a little more. Then a couple hours later, still not tasting the salt, I added a little more. Finally, after about 7 hours, when the peanuts began to show signs of softening, they also began to absorb the salt. When they were finally done enough for me, after 9 hours, they were too salty, still edible, but too much salt for my taste.
So a warning to others: Follow the recipe and don’t add any additional salt until near the end of the cooking process, the peanuts apparently don’t really start to absorb the salt until near the end. Thanks for a great recipe. This time I’ll stick to it. I’ve got some soaking now and am about to boil another batch to take to a pool party tomorrow.
Julia Free Carter of Doerun, GA (7/03/09):
Freezing Boiled Peanuts: I have peanuts boiling in the kitchen now, bought fresh from the Farmers’ Market in Cordele, GA. They may be a little too dry to boil right, but I’m sure trying! Boiled peanuts can be bought in cans in the grocery store, too. They aren’t as good as fresh by any means, but any port in a storm!
When my brother was in Viet Nam, we routinely sent him care packages. The biggest hit with the Southern boys in his unit were the canned boiled peanuts. After they ate them all, they drank the brine.
I have to disagree with the woman who said that boiled peanuts don’t freeze well. In my experience, they do perfectly well. I’ve pulled, picked off the vine, washed and boiled a year’s worth in one sitting and frozen them. My dear old Daddy and I would open a bag during football season and enjoy the Atlanta Falcons while we popped peanuts with our teeth and ate the soft “poppers”. Daddy hoarded them and didn’t offer any to guests during the winter, so I felt priviledged. 🙂
Of course you don’t put boiled peanuts in an RC or any other cola! Yes, it’s “r-ah see cola”.
Ken of Live Oak, Florida (2/23/09):
Cooking Boiled Peants in a Pressure Cooker:
Put two cups of water in a pressure cooker full of green peanuts. Add plenty of salt. Bring pot to full pressure and cook for 20 minutes. When finished release pressure with cold water on pot and enjoy. I usually fill the pot with water and put on the stove to allow the salt to soak in. Fantastic!
Yolanda Klem (7/02/08):
Boiled peanuts started because they were thought that they had to be cooked like regular beans, and they were not thought of as regular “nuts” from the tree. You wouldn’t boil a walnut would you? When boiling peanuts, you have to use a lot of salt (like 1 pound for every 4 pounds of nuts) and lots of water.
Doris Pfalmer from Fairbanks, Alaska (6/21/08):
I was born in North Carolina and move to South Carolina when my dad went overseas as a Marine. We stayed on my Granny and Papa’s farm. Granny had a peanut patch across the little road, and she used to boil them up in big batches on her old wood stove. We moved to California, where I was raised, and later moved to Reno, then Alaska, where I now reside. About once a year, I go to the bulk section of one our grocery stores and get a big bag of peanuts to boil, and the taste is like taking a walk down memory lane, right back to the farm. I shared them with my friends, and they seem to either love them or hate them. Our state fair has a booth that serves Cajun food, and they put hot spices in their boiled peanuts.
Clyde Smith, Marianna, Florida (3/19/08):I grew up in South Mississippi and boiled peanuts were everywhere. Boiled peanuts are not as easy to find now here in Florida even though our county generally has about 30,000 acres of peanut. On drinking peanuts. In South Mississippi a “snack” usually meant a Barq’s Root Beer with a small bag of Tom’s roasted peanuts dumped in. Anything that tastes that good has to be good for you.
Glenda Rutherford, Williamsport Pennsylvania (3/17/08):I just happened onto this website and was horrified to see you thought Southerners put boiled peanuts in their RC (we always drank Coke). I’m with the other people who took you to task for this little slip. Roasted, or parches peanuts are always used.
Dothan, Alabama is the peanut capital and celebrates every year with the National Peanut Festival. There are always plenty of boiled peanuts as well as every dish imaginable made with peanuts. For those of you, like me who are far away from the South, you can buy peanuts already boiled or ready to boil from companies like Lee Brothers in SC.
Alan Widner, Huntsville, AL (1/31/08):
I will say it is a southern thing for the most part. I myself like them a lot and for the most part eat a can every day as I pack a can in my lunch box. I live in Huntsville Alabama and NO you do not put Boiled Peanuts in Coke and or other soft drinks of any kind at any time. Putting Boiled Peanuts in a soft drink is a BIG NO NO.
This is how it is with peanuts and soft drinks:
- First off you only put peanuts in an R/C Cola and that Cola has to be in a bottle.
- Never use boiled peanuts. You need roasted and salted peanuts and the more salt the better.
- The salt will cut the sugar in the R/C and the acid in the R/C will start to soften the peanuts making them softer than roasted but firmer than boiled.
Now let’s go way back to lunch in the old South in a Cotton Mill Town. First off you go into the corner store pick up an R/C then you grab a bag of roasted and salted peanuts when you get to the counter you ask for 6 to 8 saltines (they not prepackaged) and say I’ll take 2 slices of bologna about yea thick (hold up your fingers to show the size) and 2 slices of HOOP CHEESE half as thick and you better get me for one of these MOON PIES.
Now I am not saying all this is carved in stone all over the world but it how it has been done were I live for over 80 years.
Mark Rakes, Layton, Utah (12/30/07):
I was born in Charleston, South Carolina and grew up in Brooksville, Florida. I currently live in Utah and so now I have to make my own boiled peanuts instead of going to buy them. In fact, I have some cooking right now as I write this. I’ve been making my own for the past 10 years or so and have introduced quite a few Utahans to them. Some don’t like them, but most love them when they taste them.
Also, just for others information, you can cook them inside on the stove, as I am doing, and they turn out just fine. (It’s snowing outside right now anyway.) As far as how much salt to use, I usually use almost an entire one pound container of salt for about 2 pounds of Raw Peanuts. As far as the water goes, always check it every hour or so because you’ll need to keep adding water to it. I have to boil my peanuts for 8 to 10 hours, but that may be because I’m at a higher altitude.
Shirley Taylor, Gallatin, TN (10/27/07):
Great reading! I too was looking for how much salt to put in my pot to boil my green peanuts. My husband and I, originally from Northwest Florida. We were in Destin, Florida this past week and it was raining and cold. Since we could not enjoy the beach, we decided to try and find someone selling green peanuts to take back with us to Tennessee for a boiling.
A call to an extension agent, we were informed that they were still digging them in Chipley, Florida. So, we took one day to drive there and pick up 30 pounds of them. We put them in a cooler with ice and they kept OK for the trip home to Tennessee. The next day after arriving home, we took our propane turkey fryer out and used it to boil our peanuts. We did half with just salt and the other half with tons of cayenne pepper for “hot” ones. My son loves those!
Robert Petty of Atlanta, GA (10/19/07):
Thanks for the history and recipe. I mostly needed the salt measure, but was fun reading the rest. I rarely see the necessary green peanuts for sale, but grab them when I do.
My daughter-in-law’s family, from South Georgia, advises placing a plate on top of the boiling peanuts to keep them more thoroughly immersed. We found that a china plate crazed and turned brown from the hours of heat, but that an aluminum foil pie plate weighted with a small (scrubbed) rock will do the job. I might also add that two pounds of green peanuts fits nicely in an 8-quart roaster along with half a gallon of water and half a cup of salt – even with the pie pan and rock on top of the boiling peanuts.
My father was a Nehi (Royal Crown Cola) bottler and roasted peanuts inside an RC was a staple as was a Moon Pie and an RC — phonetically pronounced a drawn out “are row sea.” Once, one of my friends younger brother drank an RC left in the family refrigerator for a field hand. When my friend discovered the unintentional misappropriation, he went to the country store to replace it. All the store had was the then new and unfamiliar RC bottle. The field hand encountered the new-bottle and stated flatly that he was not going to drink that with a, “That ain’t no are row sea.” The name Nehi was an alliteration of knee high in contrast to the much smaller Coca-Cola bottle which I believe was only 6 ounces compared to 10 ounce for an RC. I remember a Nehi logo knife in the shape of an attractive female leg from high heel to knee. (10/22/07) – Wow, did you ever engender some family memories. E-mail below from my daughter in law to whom I sent a copy of my email to you and next a discussion I had with my nephew when I told him about your site:
I am so jealous that you have found green peanuts. The method granddaddy used wasn’t a plate or a tin pan, he used a top to a pot that was just barely too small for the pot so that it would go down inside the pot. He told me he used a lot of salt, no certain amount, and that he’d put the peanuts in the salty water and put the “too small” top on top of the peanuts. He had a really clean brick (that was always in his kitchen (just like his other cooking utensils) that he would put on top of the “too small” lid. We always drank ginger ale with his peanuts, for some reason. He really cooked the best peanuts I’ve ever had and probably ever will have. I was really sad when he died that someone tossed his brick, probably having no idea what it was. That was one of the only things I asked for. Well, now I’m about to cry as I miss my granddaddy so much. – Ellen Petty
My favorite nephew from Tifton, GA, unexpectedly came by our mountain lake house and he and his family love boiled peanuts. It was serendipity that I had boiled the peanuts the night before. We rocked on the porch, drank beer, ate boiled peanuts, and reminisced. He and I remembered that boiled peanuts were “biled.” He now cooks green peanuts in a pressure cooker. He had never heard the story of the origin of the name for Nehi. We had fun remembering my father, his grandfather, all as a result of boiled peanuts. A long-time (55 years) friend originally from Wachula, FL, came over and we had boiled peanuts before dinner the night before.
Enough of all this, but a lot of fun was had by all as a result of my finding green peanuts in the Kroger store in Jasper, GA, Googleing to your site for how much salt to put in, and the resulting reminisces. BTW, I had frozen some of the peanuts the night before my nephew came by. It only took a little while for them to thaw when family arrived. No necessity to heat or microwave.
Linda and Charlie Simpson of Charleston, SC (9/12/07):
I just read your boiled peanut history and recipe and wanted to comment on freezing them. Most folks will agree that frozen boiled peanuts don’t last very long before they get mealy and mushy. A better way to have boiled peanuts year-round is to blanch green peanuts for about ten minutes in boiling water, then freeze them. When you want some boiled peanuts, take them out of the freezer and boil them just like they were fresh. I have successfully kept peanuts a year this way and they boil-up just like fresh.
Michelle Long of Charleston, SC (8/13/07):
I was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. If ya’ll are ever in Charleston or Summerville, South Carolina you must stop by Hucks’ Produce on Folly Road in James Island, Hucks’ Produce on Hwy 78 in Ladson, or Poppy’s Peanuts on Hwy 78 in Summerville. These are, by far, the best boiled peanuts you will ever taste. Believe me, in my forty years of living, I know boiled peanuts. By the way, they serve them hot, really hot.
Al Morton of Georgia (8/13/07):
I just returned from my son’s wedding on Sapelo Island, Georgia. The bride is from St. Simons Island, GA, and insisted on boiled peanuts for the wedding reception. Most guests were Southerners familiar with this treat and really excited to see them there. Those who were not seemed to enjoy them once they got over how “weird” they were. I found your website while searching for a recipe; although I have lived in Georgia for over 35 years, I have never tried to boil peanuts myself; your recipe sounds perfect! By the way, it was the coolest wedding ever!
Crystal of South Caroline (7/12/07)I was born and raised in SC and love boiled peanuts:
I prefer them nice and freshly boiled. They are so much better hot/warm. My mom and I were scouting for people with hot boiled peanuts and were unable to find any. I am sad to report a decrease in people boiling them on the side of the road and keeping them hot. Thanks for the history page I just wanted to add my thoughts.
Deborah Due of Groveton, TX (7/07/07):
I just visited your site and was pleased to read the history and find the recipe I was searching for. I grew up in East Texas and still live there. We grew peanuts when I was a child and I really enjoyed getting to eat boiled peanuts – I liked them better than parched peanuts.
I guess you could add Texas to your list in the history because many people in East Texas used to boil their green peanuts. My ancestors, third/fourth generation back, came from Mississippi . . . maybe that’s where the trend got started for my family. There is a small town in East Texas that boasts as the peanut capital of Texas – Grapeland, TX. They have a peanut festival each fall, but most of what they sell is dried peanuts.
I was at a fresh farmer’s market yesterday in south Louisiana and found some green peanuts. My dad will really enjoy these when I fix them for him and I might help him eat a few!
Kathy Brill of Jacksonville, FL (5/20/07):
I just read your history on the boiled (bald) peanuts and found it very interesting. I was born and raised a Yankee from NJ and never heard of a boiled peanut until I moved south and thought southerners were nuts for doing such a thing to a delicious peanut.
I was at a Flea Market in Jacksonville, FL with a friend who bought a bag of them and made me try one. I thought I was going to be sick. I wasn’t prepared for the texture or taste and spit it out. Oddly enough, the next time I went to the flea market I found myself buying a bad and couldn’t believe I sat down and ate the whole thing. I’ve been in Florida for 25 years now and make my own boiled peanuts and buy them when ever I see a stand or am at the flea market. I’m totally addicted and my 9 year old daughter has never had a regular peanut and can’t imagine northerners eating them without boiling them. Thanks for the history and other reader comments. It’s a great web page.
Richard McCleskey of Asheville, NC (3/10/07):
Alabama is the Peanut Capital. I’m originally from Alabama and I have to agree that the best boiled peanuts come from fresh dug Green Peanuts. I prefer peanuts that are a bit immature for they tend to be tender and juicer when boiled. My mother use to drag me around with her back in the 60’s and 70’s and one of the places I had to go with her was to the beauty shop. S he would keep me pacified with a small bag of salted peanuts and a bottle of Coca Cola.
Please do not forget the Peanut Man himself, George Washington Carver, who convinced farmers to grow Peanuts and invented over 300 products made from them while he was at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. For years farmers had been planting cotton season after season. They were depleting the soil and actually producing less and less. Carver also watched the destructive path the boll weevil made as it worked its way through the South. He warned farmers that their cotton crops would disappear and all that would remain would be famine and unusable soil. With crop rotation Carver ushered in a new era in agriculture in the South. He encouraged the farmers to plant sweet potatoes, peanuts, and soybeans to help restore the soil. T hese crops were easy to grow and provided the much needed nutrients for soil.
When the farmers did listen, they found themselves with a huge crop of peanuts and no market for their crop. Farmers were mad at Carver. The story goes that he locked himself in his laboratory and asked God why He made the peanut. Days later he emerged with over 300 products that could be made from the peanut plant. Years later Carver was asked to speak before Congress about these discoveries and the usefulness of peanuts.
Ashley Sampson of Portland, OR (2/21/07):
I wanted to toss in my two cents. I was born and raised in Portland, Oregon. I love “bald” peanuts. Have all my life. It’s hard to get them here in Oregon. (thank goodness for UPS). My mom’s from Georgia. I guess that’s why I was exposed to them and why I like them. It’s a special treat when she or her brother buy them for us for Christmas. I’ve always known canned, room temperature boiled peanuts. Hot sounds nasty to me. If anyone has heard “I was country when country wasn’t cool,” by Barbara Mandrel. She talks about putting peanuts in her coke. I believe it would be dry roasted. Although any kind sounds bad!
Scott Shaw of Asheville, NC (10/26/06):
After reading this article and the comments left by the other readers, I have to agree with their comments. I was born and raised in South Carolina – the boiled peanut capital of the country (regardless of what Georgia says). I’ve never seen or heard of anyone ever putting a boiled peanut in a soda. Children (and some adults) commonly dump a pack of roasted, salted peanuts into their “Co-Cola”, drink the slightly salted beverage, then eat the peanuts out of the bottom. Of course, it needs to be a BOTTLE of Coke. It’s too hard to get the wet peanuts out of the can!
Keith Murphy (8/07/06):
I was raised on a peanut-tobacco-corn farm in south Georgia during the 1950’s. No one ever put a boiled peanut in the shell into his RC. You put the roasted, salted peanut (no shell) into your “drank”. I still do it a couple times a week (I prefer Mountain Dew or Sun Drop over an RC).
Peanuts are harvested in south Georgia from late August until the first of October, and any good Southerner knows that the real good boiled peanut is one that was boiled “green”, or fresh-dug (peanuts grow underground), before it has time to dry.
We always boil up a large quantity of green peanuts and freeze them. Only when we are completely desperate do we resort to eating boiled peanuts that have been dried, and then soaked to regain moisture. Most people exposed to boiled peanuts, are exposed to this type, and never have the opportunity to try a green boiled peanut. Another thing, is some of these roadside stands let these old peanuts sit around for days in old brine, and the peanuts are really bad.
Eat your peanuts in August, September, and October. Other times, try to get those that have been processed green and frozen that way, or canned. You can find green boiled peanuts at Cooter Brown’s Emporium on Owltown Road in Blairsville, GA.
Fred Hatley of Scott AFB, IL (6/29/06):
I just read your history about boiled peanuts on your web page. Interesting reading. I recently spent a few days in upstate South Carolina where I was born and raised. The few times I have returned, I “re-discover” many foods of my child hood and boiled peanuts is one of those.
I returned to Illinois with several bags of commercial boiled peanuts and got into a conversation or two with some “Yankees” about the origin. I was surprised to see that they are now being bagged and canned for supermarket sales.