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What’s So Special About Boiled Peanuts?

Boiled peanuts are a Southern delicacy. They’re addictively salty with a uniquely tender crunch.

But to some, they’re an acquired taste. Maybe you’ve seen them sold at roadside stands and wondered if they’re worth trying.

Today, we’re getting into the history of this savory snack. We bet you’ll want to try them the next time you get the chance.

Let’s dig in!

Boiling peanuts in pot
Boiled peanuts make for a delicious snack.

Do People Really Boil Peanuts?

People enjoy peanuts in many forms throughout the world. Candied, roasted, or churned into peanut butter, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this nut. But if you’re not from the southeastern US, you might not be familiar with boiled peanuts. 

Immature, green peanuts are freshly harvested and left in their shell. They’re boiled for hours in salted water until they soften and take on their signature briny flavor. Some folks use special spice blends, but sea salt is the classic choice.

You can find boiled peanuts throughout the South at roadside stands, gas stations, and ballparks. They’re even the official state snack of South Carolina. 

They’re a classic street food in parts of Africa and South America. And throughout Asia, they’re eaten as a snack or used in various soups.

Get the inside scoop on Who Really Invented Peanut Butter?

The Origins of Boiled Peanuts

Peanuts took quite the journey to reach the southern US. These legumes originated in South America. In the 1500s, the Portuguese took peanuts from Brazil to Africa, where they became a staple. When Africans were enslaved and taken to North America, they brought their beloved legume with them.

Like black-eyed peas and okra, enslaved Africans cultivated and ate peanuts long before the masses enjoyed them. Boiled peanuts were a staple among Africans before their exploitation. 

In the New World, peanuts were mainly grown by enslaved African Americans until the American Revolution. Their popularity exploded then, and European settlers began using the legume as a food source and for its oil. 

Goober peas, ground nuts, pindars, or peanuts. Whatever you call them, they’re a staple of Southern culture and cuisine. 

Are Boiled Peanuts Good for You? 

Peanuts sometimes get a bad rap for being high in fat, but much of that comes from modern commercial processing. But this humble legume is pretty healthy when you look beyond peanut butter pie and Reese’s Pieces.

And that goes double for boiled peanuts!

Scientists found that boiling them allows the kernels to absorb antioxidants from the shell. This means that boiled peanuts have higher levels of antioxidants than other forms of the legume, which can help prevent conditions like cancer and heart disease.

Interestingly, studies show that boiled peanuts can even reverse severe peanut allergies. Because stewing them denatures the proteins that cause allergic reactions, they don’t trigger a massive immune response in people sensitive to the legume.

Why You Should Try Boiled Peanuts

Boiled peanuts are salty, tender, and surprisingly addictive. Plus, if you’re not from the South, they’re a novelty experience you should try at least once.

True enthusiasts are often loyal to one seller. And chances are, it’s a guy selling them from the back of his pickup truck on the side of the road. So, if you’re driving south of the Mason-Dixon line in the early fall, hop off the interstate and see if you can find an authentic roadside stand.

Sure, it’s possible to find them at other locations, but if you pick them up from a gas station or (god forbid) in a can, don’t judge all boiled peanuts by that experience. 

On the other hand, well-acquainted Southerners might be looking for more ways to incorporate this tasty snack into their diet. You can serve them with your favorite hot sauce, throw in a stew, or even use them to make hummus.

Give them a try! You might like them! Peanut Patch Boiled Peanuts.

To Shell or Not to Shell?

The little legume inside the shell undoubtedly keeps people coming back for more. Peanut shells are technically edible. After all, they’re basically just fiber and don’t contain any compounds that can make you sick.

But are they enjoyable? Some people think so. While most folks use the shell to funnel boiled peanuts and the delicious, salty brine into their mouths, others go whole hog. It seems there’s always that one guy at the neighborhood barbeque with an indiscriminate palate. 

However, part of what makes boiled peanuts so addictive is their texture. They’re tender but also a bit crunchy, and there’s nothing else quite like it. And you won’t get to enjoy that when you’re trying to gnaw through the tough shell.

If you try this delicacy, it won’t hurt to pop a whole one into your mouth. You might even find you prefer your boiled peanuts this way.

There are many unique ways to eat peanuts. Find out Why Southerners Put Peanuts in Coke Bottles.

Can You Make Boiled Peanuts at Home? 

Diehard boiled peanut fans know there’s nothing better than homemade goober peas. They’re easy to make, and you only need a few ingredients and plenty of time. The best part about making your own is adjusting the flavors to your liking. 

The most important factor is the main ingredient. You need raw, green peanuts. These legumes are fresh from the ground and still contain natural moisture content. They’re perishable and will be refrigerated unless you pick them yourself. 

You can use raw peanuts, which are fresh, air-dried legumes, but they’ll need to cook longer. Don’t try using pre-roasted peanuts, though. They simply won’t do the trick.

Once you source some fresh, green legumes, put them in a big pot, cover them with water, and add a whole bunch of salt. Boil for two hours and give them a taste. Depending on the freshness of your peanuts, you may need to continue boiling the legumes for up to seven hours. Be sure to check periodically so they don’t turn to mush. 

If you’re feeling creative, play around with different combinations of spices. Crab boil and Cajun seasoning will give your peanuts a Louisiana flair. Fresh peppers and cider vinegar will create a kick. 

A Salty Treat

Boiled peanuts are a staple snack in the South. Although some see them as synonymous with Southern culture, their roots date back centuries to West Africa. 

The next time you’re driving along a country road in the fall, be on the lookout for a roadside stand selling this addictive treat. You may just find your new favorite nibble.

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