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Boiled Peanuts Recipe

Our step-by-step, photo illustrated recipe for Southern Boiled Peanuts.  Grab yourself an ice cold Nehi Soda and lets go to the drive-in.  They may take a few hours to complete, but the reward of popping these hot boiled peanuts in your mouth is well worth the wait.  Expect a little of the juice to drip down your chin as you eat them, it’s just part of the tradition and nothing to be ashamed of.

Southern Boiled Peanuts Recipe:

I love peanuts.  I love parched peanuts.  I love salted-in-the-shell peanuts and I love salted peanuts in long slender packages.  I love peanuts in jars and I love peanuts from cans.  But, my favorite way to enjoy peanuts has to be hot boiled.  What can I say…I love peanuts.

My first memory of boiled peanuts goes way back to around 5 or 6 years of age.  I probably had them before that but I just don’t remember them.  What I do remember, is my family being at Uncle Tom and Aunt Teen’s house getting ready to head out to the drive-in theatre.  Aunt Teen (short for Christine) and mama, had spent hours boiling a big old pot of peanuts for all of us to enjoy at the movies.  I guess we had Sweet Tea to drink but I suspicion we may have had some “co-cola’s” or a “Pepsi” to go along with them.  Or, just maybe, some Nehi Orange or Nehi Grape Soda’s. Either way, the trip to the drive-in was a big occasion.  All total, between our two families, there would have been 12 of us piling into Uncle Tom’s old panel truck for the drive to town and a night at the movies.

We’d take chairs and blankets to sit on and I guess they just charged us for the entire truck load as opposed to per person.  That’s probably the only reason we even had the opportunity to go.  For me and my cousins, it was playing in and around the truck while the grownups tried to watch the movie.  It was probably some western, I don’t know for sure.  Mostly, I just remember there was a big screen with people moving around on it.  Little did I know then that I’d spend about 14 years of my working life inside a movie theatre when I got old enough to get a job.

We probably had some popcorn, or maybe even popcorn balls to go along with the peanuts.  I remember we did that sometimes as well.  Still, it was a BIG night to head to the drive-in.  I guess for the parents, it must have been the end to a successful week of working the farm and selling some produce or eggs that gave us enough money to enjoy a little entertainment.

Like most drive-in theatres, the old Fox Drive-In in Fayetteville, North Carolina has been long gone.  Last time I noticed, part of the frame for one of the screens was still standing.  For years you could still see the old ticket office that was just off of Bragg Boulevard.  The theatre later developed a bit of a reputation as they had two screens.  The screen up front showed the family movies but then they added a second screen.  The second screen, around back, became known for it’s “un-family” films that they showed for years before the place finally closed down.

I sometimes think it’s sad that most of today’s youth have never had the experience of going to a drive-in theatre.  Yes, there are still a few hanging on but not many.  Those were just good days.

OK, I could go on and on with those memories, but you’re here to learn about boiled peanuts.  Right?  Let’s see if we can’t help you get started making some adventures of your own with our Southern Boiled Peanuts Recipe.  They’re pretty simple to make, it just takes several hours to cook them down.  But, they are certainly still worth it.  Or at least I think so.  So, if you’re ready for a salty good snack…Let’s Get Cooking!

Boiled Peanuts Recipe:  You’ll only need two ingredients, peanuts and salt.

I’m using two pounds of “raw” peanuts for this recipe.  You could use “green” peanuts if you can find them.  Green peanuts are only available for a short period of time during the growing season.  What’s the difference?  Green peanuts are the peanuts that have just been pulled out of the ground.  Peanuts grow on a bush with the nut itself growing on the roots under ground.  Farmers pull up the entire bush and pick the peanuts off.  At that point, they are known as green peanuts.  The shells are somewhat firm but will continue to dry out the longer they are above ground.

RAW peanuts are dehydrated or dry peanuts.  Raw peanuts can be used to make boiled peanuts but they must first be re-hydrated.  And then, we have roasted or parched peanuts.  Those are peanuts that have been cooked or baked already.  Roasted peanuts aren’t suitable for making boiled peanuts since they have already been cooked.

You can probably find green peanuts in your grocery store, farmers market or some food distributor during the growing season.  More than likely though, you’ll find raw peanuts in a mesh type bag or maybe a large bin where you can scoop them out by the pound.

Some folks seem to prefer the green type to make boiled peanuts.  I pretty much prefer the raw peanuts for some reason.  And, they come in several varieties that you can read more about by Clicking Here.  My favorite is the Valencia variety.  They’re not great big jumbo peanuts and they are just better tasting from what I’ve tried otherwise.

No matter which type of peanut in the shell that you have, you’ll want to begin by washing them.

I just dump them in the sink and run some cool water over them.  Then, I swirl them around a bit to remove any dirt or dust that might still be trying to hang on.  The peanuts you buy have more than likely already been washed to some extent.  It just never hurts to wash them a bit more though.  Besides, you can enjoy the fun of chasing them all around the sink trying to get them back out.

After I’ve washed them around in the sink, I chase them all over the place trying to get them into the colander.  These little things can swim all around the sink.  Drain the dirty water out of the sink and then rinse them off again under cool running water while they’re in the colander.

Get out a large pot and fill it about 3/4ths full of water.  I’m using a 12 quart stock pot and filling it up to the 8 quart mark.  The peanuts will have to boil for several hours so you’ll need to start out with a good amount of water.

Add the raw peanuts.

Now, some folks would just let them set in this water and soak overnight.  That’s highly doable and something I’ve done in the past.  But, why not go ahead and let them cook during that amount of time?  Yes, they will cook a little bit quicker if you soak them first, and if you have the time, go for it.  I didn’t want to wait until the next day to enjoy them so I’m going to just start cooking them now.  Yeah, cook them now…don’t wait.

Look, they float.  Maybe they’re just still swimming around in the pot.  Whatcha think?

Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat up to medium-high.  Let’s get this thing to boiling.

Once the pot of water starts to boil, reduce the heat down to medium and cover the pot.  They’ve got to boil for several hours but just don’t forget about them.  You’ll also want to keep a watch on the amount of water in the pot and not let it boil away.

I kept an eye on the pot and checked it after each hour of cooking.  After 2 hours, I tried a couple and found them starting to soften but still in need of cooking a lot longer.  After about three hours of boiling on medium heat, the water level had dropped by about 4 quarts of water.  The arrow points to the 8 quart mark which is where I started off at.  It’s almost down to the 4 quart mark at this point.

You’ll want to start tasting the peanuts after about three hours.  Use a slotted spoon and remove a couple and let them cool….they’re hot.  You’ll want to test them for doneness at this point as cooking times will certainly vary.  It really depends on your personal preference.  Some folks like them with a little crunch left in the bite and others want to cook them down until they are very soft.  It’s just whichever you prefer.  So, keep testing them along the way until they get to where you like them.

After about 3 hours of boiling, add the salt.  Boiled peanuts are suppose to be a little salty…just not so salty you can’t eat them.  When we started out, the shells were dry and brittle, so they wouldn’t absorb any salt at that point.  Once the shells begin to rehydrate, the salt can be absorbed inside.  From what I’ve learned, the peanuts really don’t take on any salt until the later part of the boiling process so I don’t add it at the beginning.  Most of the salt, it appears,  is absorbed once the peanuts have reached the point of doneness.  Once they’ve cooked, we’ll let them cool down in the same water.  That means they will continue to absorb salt as they cool.  Pouring too much salt in will give you undesirable results.  You could always heat them back up a little and add more salt later so don’t get carried away with adding a bunch of salt even if you’re not tasting it at this point.  You don’t want to ruin them after you’ve cooked them four hours.  You can thank me later.  OK?

After you’ve added the salt, give them a good stirring.  Replace the lid and let them continue to boil.  You could even add some hot water to the pot if yours has gotten low.

Some folks like to leave their peanuts in all that salt water as they eat them.  You need to try it that way at least once in your life.  Having all that juice run down your fingers and your chin, and all over your shirt or blouse, will give you a true Southern experience in eating boiled peanuts.  Just keep a towel or some napkins handy, they seem to drip all over everything.

On the other hand, you may decide to drain the liquid off like I do.  The peanuts have been allowed to cool in the salt water and I’m satisfied that they are salty enough for my taste buds.  Since I don’t really enjoy all that liquid all over my shirt as I eat them, I just dump them in the colander and drain it off.  I seem to use my colander a lot.

Also, if you plan to freeze them, you could freeze them with or without some of the water.  It’s up to you.  Experiment around with several batches and decide which way you like to do best.  I’m sure you’ll be cooking more.

Some folks also can their boiled peanuts in jars, like jam and jellies.  You’d want to keep the salt water if that’s the case.  Maybe we can do a recipe on how to can them before too long.  Normally, I’ll freeze a few for later but since they’re available pretty much all year around, I just buy them and boil them throughout the winter.  It saves on the cost of jars, lids and bands, and it’s much quicker to just pop them in a freezer bag and into the freezer.  Afterwards, you just let them thaw a bit and then heat them in the microwave.

Serve them up warm…with a good ice cold Nehi Soda and Enjoy!

I don’t normally see anyone in my town that sells them already boiled.  Roadside produce stands or the farmers markets will often have them by the bag during the later Summer and early Fall part of the year.  You can also purchase commercially canned boiled peanuts at most any grocery store.  Those aren’t bad when you’re hurting for some hot boiled peanuts, but you’ll enjoy them better when you make your own.  And, it’s so simple.  I hope you’ll give them a try real soon and let us know how they turn out.

Some folks add Old Bay Seasoning or Hot Sauce to the pot as they boil.  They refer to those as Cajun Boiled Peanuts.  I’ve never tried it myself, but I understand some folks even toss a Ham Hock into the pot as they cook.  I imagine they’re good and guess that I’ll eventually get around to giving those a try myself one day.


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