Monday, May 13, 2013

Boiled Peanuts - Official Snack Food of South Carolina

Boiled Peanuts in Large Pot
Boiled Peanuts - a SC tradition!

  • 5-6 lbs of "green" peanuts (depending on the size of the pot used)
  • Salt (Can use sea salt if desired.)
  • White Vinegar

PROCEDURE (with commentary):

1) Place 5 to 6 lbs. of peanuts in a 8 quart pot, add water, stir, pour off water and repeat until poured off water runs clear.

2) Fill pot with water again until peanuts are covered by an inch or so of water. You may have to push down on the peanuts to find the correct water level.

3) Bring peanuts to a boil. I generally adjust it a little after it starts boiling depending upon how much boil-over is occurring. Place a lid on the pot so the lid doesn't quite seat with the pot. That way the steam can escape once the peanuts begin to boil. This will keep it from boiling over too much.

4) Boil peanuts for 90 minutes. Keep checking water level. Add more water if necessary. Do not add any salt or anything else for the first 90 minutes. If peanuts are older, either let them soak a little while (15 minutes to 1 hr.) before the first 90 minute boil or add time to the first 90 minutes of boiling. Add 15 to 30 minutes for older peanuts. Older meaning the number of days since purchase or more specifically harvesting. You could buy peanuts today from the grocery store that may have been harvested weeks ago.

5) At the 90 minute mark add a 1/2 cup of salt. This is a personal preference but boiled peanuts do not need as much salt as most folks think they do. You can use sea salt if desired. Also add 1/3 cup of white vinegar at this time. This is is optional but highly recommended. I believe the vinegar gives the peanuts a better taste and helps the nut release from the shell. I sometimes will add up to a 1/2 cup of vinegar.

6) This is the most important and fun part of boiling peanuts. You MUST taste them at about 10 minute intervals after boiling for approximately 1 hour. I tend to start eating them sooner than that - I just can't help myself. It also lets me know how dry the peanuts are. If I start with 5 or 6 pounds of peanuts I am lucky if I have 4.5 pounds by the time I finish boiling them but again this is the fun of boiling peanuts.

7) At the 2 hr mark (120 minutes), after they have been boiling with salt and vinegar for 30 minutes, you need to see how much salt the peanuts have drawn in. You need to even taste the brine and make sure it is salty enough. During all the boiling up until this point, you may have added more water as it was needed and diluted the solution. Therefore it is possible you might need to add a little more salt. It really shouldn't need it but tasting the brine at intervals will let you know.

8) The important thing at this point is to keep checking them. If the peanuts are new then you shouldn't be more than 30 minutes to 1 hr away from being done after the 2 hr mark. (Also, this is Timmonsville, SC not Denver, CO so adjust cooking times for your elevation above sea level.)

On the last batch I made to watch the Darlington race, I turned the heat off at the 2.5 hr mark and then let the peanuts soak a little while until I was happy with the taste. I estimate the peanuts soaked for another hour or so. I actually think it was too long but my family still thought they were great!

I worked with a guy from Chicago once who hated boiled peanuts and then he tried some of mine and thought they were wonderful. His biggest complaint with what he'd eaten in the past were they were too salty and mushy. You get those two things from 1) too much salt and 2) too much cooking and/or 3) soaking or all three. The secret is to stop immediately when you like how they taste. I have even poured out the hot water and ran cold water over them in the past to stop the cooking exactly where I liked them.

When finished, you can eat them warm straight out the cooking pot or you can fill large freezer bags and put them in the refrigerator or pack in a cooler on ice. I personally like them cold but that's just me.

Have fun and happy boiled peanut eating of South Carolina's official snack food!

1 comment:

  1. Great them peanuts...maybe I can do this!