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Southern Culinary Arts: Boiled Peanuts

Updated on September 11, 2012

Culinary arts - southern food

Welcome to my online cooking school and online cooking classes! Today's culinary art is boiled peanuts. These delectable tidbits are a big hit with Southern food fans. In fact, even my "Yankee" friends love them!

I bet you already know that Georgia is famous for its peanuts, huh? After all, the U.S. had Jimma Cahta as president a while back. Remember? He was often called the “peanut president” or the “peanut farmer president” since he was, indeed, a cultivator of goobers.

We Georgians love our peanuts! All over the state, you’ll find peanut parades, peanut pageants, and peanut festivals. Just about every function that has booths that sell foods offer parched peanuts, peanut brittle, fried peanuts, roasted peanuts, peanut butter pie, chocolate covered peanuts, caramelized peanuts, or peanut butter cookies to the masses. Numero uno among all these ground pea products, however, is the boiled peanut.

Boiled peanuts is one of the best things about living in the South! And if you haven’t tasted fresh boiled peanuts grown in the South and prepared by a Southerner, you haven’t tasted real boiled peanuts. Those in the can can’t compare, nor can those great big tough peanuts I’ve eaten in “Yankee” states like North Carolina. Don't get me wrong - these peanuts are better than no boiled peanuts at all, for sure. But, no, I’m talking about the real deal – the kind of boiled peanuts you find in Georgia, northern Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi. Here’s how it should be done, in the fashion of true Southern culinary arts:

The peanuts should be just pulled. Also, they have to be young and green. If some of the peanuts aren’t fully formed – good! Those are my favorites – the ones that are so soft after boiling that you can eat shell and all. These are usually called “pops.”

After you have a “mess” of peanuts, hose them down outside to remove most of the dirt. By the way, peanuts grow underground. Not everyone knows that. Some Northerners moved to Georgia several years ago to retire on a few acres. They had a huge garden that first year, which included a row of peanuts. When their Southern neighbor asked that fall how the garden had turned out, they replied that everything did pretty well except for the peanuts. They said the plants got big and green and bushy, but they never produced a single nut. These displaced city slickers didn’t know you had to dig peanuts!

Okay, back to the topic at hand. Bring the peanuts inside and rinse them in the sink with cool water until the water runs clear. Let the peanuts soak in cool water for about an hour.

Place the peanuts in a large pot that has a lid.

Cover the nuts with the salt solution – 1 ¼ cup of salt for every gallon of water. The salt water should cover the peanuts by two or three inches.

Put the lid on the pot and turn it on high. Once it boils, turn down the heat to medium-high and continue to boil for four hours, making sure the peanuts stay covered with water.

After four hours or so, taste one of the nuts. If it’s soft, it’s ready. If it’s not, continue cooking. Keep checking every fifteen minutes or so until the peanuts are soft and salty. Add more salt if needed. If the nuts get too salty, drain off the salt water and boil or soak the nuts in fresh water.

The boiled peanuts can be cooled and placed in freezer bags. Try to remove as much air from the bags as possible. They’ll keep in the freezer for several months.

Enjoy it, y’all!

Read more about culinary arts in my online cooking school and online cooking classes!

A favorite of Southern culinary arts!
A favorite of Southern culinary arts!

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