I grew up in the south, a place where folks drive really fast, storms visit every summer afternoon, and the humidity is so thick you can just about drink it from a straw. To me, Florida is home.
Say what you will, but some of my fondest memories were born in the Sunshine State, pulling up to roadside fruit stands after school and getting my absolute favorite snack...southern style boiled peanuts.
These days I call Los Angeles home, and unless I run across a fellow southerner, they’ve never heard of this delicious delicacy. So I sought out to bring a taste of my hometown to the west coast.
Traditional boiled peanuts are made from raw green peanuts, which earn their name from their freshness. They’re freshly harvested, therefore they’re ‘green’. This doesn’t mean that they’re green in color! Green peanuts are harvested fresh with a 35% to 50% moisture content, which means that unless they’re frozen pretty quickly, they’ll spoil within a week. This is the main reason that us west coasters don’t get a true green boiled peanut experience. It takes too long to get to us!
With that said, boiled peanuts can be made with dried raw peanuts. They may not carry the same traditional flavor, but I’d say they’re a very close second to the real roadstand thing! Compared to their green peanut counterpart, dried raw peanuts only carry a 10% moisture content. This means that they stay fresh longer, and are a great option for those of us that live far from those southern peanut farms. I find the dried raw peanuts I boil at the local health food store in the bulk section. If you know what you’re looking for they’re not hard to find.
Step 1: Ingredients
For this, the ingredients are simple.
- 1.5 pounds of raw, dried peanuts
- 1/2 cup of salt
- Pressure Cooker
Step 2: Purchasing Raw Dried Peanuts
For folks not in the southern United States, green peanuts are very difficult (or impossible) to find. Raw dried peanuts, though not found in every grocery store, can be found in specialty and health stores. It's important to note that dried roasted peanuts are completely different. They will not work!
For this, I bought about 1.5 lbs from the local health food store, and paid $3.00.
The peanut on the left is a raw, dried peanut. The right is a dried roasted peanut.
Step 3: The Triple Rinse
Peanuts grow from the ground, therefore they're, well...dirty. The first three steps are rinse. rinse. rinse. I collect the water from my rinses so that I can compare the cloudiness of each rinse to the next. Three solid rinses should have the peanuts ready to boil.
Step 4: Seasoning and Cooking
Boiled peanuts require time. With few ingredients, they need time to soak in whatever seasonings they're boiling with. I prefer the original method, plain old salt and water.
For this round I purchased about 1.5 lbs of raw, dried peanuts, and I set aside about a 1/2 cup of salt. After rinsing thoroughly three times, I put my peanuts into a pressure cooker, filled to the fill line with water. It's important that you don't overfill with water! I then added about 1/3 of the salt that I set aside.
Pressure cookers are great because they cook about 8X faster than a pot on a stovetop, and you don't need to continuously add water.
Place on high heat until boiling, the rocker on the top of the pressure cooker will begin to shake furiously. Once it does, lower the heat until you get a soft, side to side rock from the rocker at the top. After an hour and a half remove from heat for about 5-10 minutes to let the pressure subside, then slowly twist off the top of the pressure cooker. Add the rest of the salt, stir it up, twist the lid back on and place back onto high heat and bring to boil, repeating the simmer process.
After about an hour and a half remove from heat, but this time let it cool completely without removing the lid. When you do, you'll notice an oily sheen on top of the water, that's normal!
The rest is up to you! Like your peanuts a little more firm? Remove from the water once cooled. If you like them on the mushy side, leave them in for as long as you'd like. If the peanuts aren't salty enough DON'T add more salt, just let them sit and soak.
Step 5: Enjoy and Spread That Peanut Love
After your labor of love comes the very best step, the eating! Enjoy your boiled peanuts much like you enjoy sunflower seeds, and toss the shells aside.
Great boiled peanuts require a bit of trial and error, but once you get it right you can never go wrong! Share them with a friend and spread that peanut love wherever you are!