Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Boiled Peanuts!

I am one of those people that loves the markers of seasons. By that I mean, I love all the things that happen every year at the same time. For example, I love that the Bradford pears are one of the first trees to bloom each March, marking the beginning of Spring and I love that we get to pick strawberries every April marking summer's approach.
We are experiencing one of those season markers right now. Our house smells like peanuts, because we boiled a big pot of them last night. Before moving to SE Alabama, I didn't know a whole lot about peanuts, but I have learned a lot since. Did you know that peanuts grow underground? At harvest time, a machine digs the plants up and turns them over in the field. After 2 or 3 days of drying in the field, a harvesting machine separates the peanuts from the plants and loads them in "wagons" that are hitched to trucks.
We are definately in peanut farming country here, so peanuts seem to effect many parts of our life. Our house is located just 1/2 mile from the peanut coop. Every fall, harvested peanuts are brought in the peanut "wagons"to the coop and attached to "blowers" for curing. Hot air is forced slowly through the wagons during this process. This makes a loud, but low (in pitch) humming type noise. There are many of these running at the same time, so we hear them day and night during peanut season. I have fond memories associated with the sound of the blowers, because my son was born during our first peanut season here. When I would be up to feed him at night, I would hear the almost hypnotic, comforting sounds of the peanut blowers down the road. Every fall, the event of the season is the Peanut Festival. This rivals most county fairs, is attended by just about everyone and climaxes with the Peanut Festival Parade through downtown.
Anyway, all that to say our neighbor gave us fresh peanuts yesterday and we took on the task of pretending to be natives: We boiled them! Boiled peanuts are a favorite snack of this region and we are in full agreement! We have enjoyed the taste of them every fall since we have moved here. But this time, we boiled them ourselves. It was fun and they were tasty. Now, our house smells like peanuts marking the beginning of Fall. It may still be terribly hot and humid and so far no leaves have changed colors, but we know Fall is on its way, because the peanut harvest is beginning.
Here is a recipe for boiling peanuts that I found on the internet:

2 pounds fresh raw peanuts in shells
3 tablespoons salt or to taste

Wash peanuts well. Place them in a huge cast iron pot or the biggest pot you have. Pour in enough water to almost fill the pot. Add salt and stir. Cover and cook over high heat. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat only enough to prevent water from boiling over. Add water as needed to keep peanuts under water. When adding water, increase heat to high until peanuts are boiling again. Boil for 3 1/2 to 4 hours. Test to see if they are done by spooning out a peanut, cooling briefly, opening the shell and biting into one. Boiled peanuts should be soft, not crunchy or hard. Drain, rinse well and cool slightly before serving. Store in plastic bags in refrigerator or freezer.

The photos in this post were taken by
Old Shoe Woman and shared on Flickr.


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