Summertime and Boiled Peanuts

It’s summertime and the livin’ is easy….

Recently, my buddy Shawn posted a Top Ten list of reasons he loves summer.  Sadly, he only got to number 4 before he gave up, and solicited help from his readers.  I gave him ten, but my list kinda fell apart at the end as well, and I started listing stuff I actually hate about summer (humidity, gnats, etc…).  However, in the list of positives, there was one that got Shawn’s attention, and he requested some more info, so here it is Shawn:  My tribute to boiled peanuts.

Honestly, there are very few things that can instantly conjure up childhood summertime memories for me as quickly as the mention (or smell) of boiled peanuts.  I have no memory of life without the delicious, soft, salty legume.  Growing up in South Georgia, I was eating boiled peanuts before I cut my first tooth.  I love them. I LOVE them. I. Love. Them.

My Grandfather and uncle grew peanuts on the family farm to sell commercially, but we had a small area of the field closest to my uncle’s house where they were grown specifically for our private consumption.  I spent many summer hours, pulling up peanut plants, then sitting under a giant pecan tree (pronounced: pee-kan tree), picking off green peanuts and then washing them in five gallon buckets to get them ready to boil.  The anxious 3-4 hour wait for them to be ready to eat was shear agony.  Eat them hot or cold, there are few things better than a quart sized mason jar full of sweet iced tea* and a cool-whip bowl full of boiled peanuts.  Did I mention how much I love boiled peanuts?

But here’s the thing, the value of boiled peanuts is not just in their undeniable deliciousness.  They aren’t just a great summertime snack.  In the south, food is inseparably intertwined with our heritage and cultural identity.  Boiled peanuts are a part of the social fabric that binds us together. They have been around at least as far back as the War of Northern Aggression**.  They find their way into just about every social event occurring during the summer and even into early fall in the south: ball games, picnics, fishing trips, beach outings, cook-outs, tractor pulls, tent revivals, county fairs, you name it.  My sister even served them at the rehearsal dinner for her wedding.

At this point you are probably either salivating at the thought of your next batch of boiled peanuts, or you’re curious and possibly considering giving them a try.  So how do you make boiled peanuts?  If you ask a dozen people how to make them, you will probably get a dozen recipes.  Some people like them slightly firm (commonly called “hard nuts”), and some like them soft.  Some like them slightly salty, some like them very salty.  Some even like them with BBQ or Cajun seasonings.  Personally, I like them soft and a little on the salty side.  You can get my recipe here.  If you can’t get green peanuts where you live, you can mail order raw or boiled green peanuts from Hardy Farms online.

So here’s to the boiled peanut.  A simple, yet delicious snack.  A rallying point for some, an enigma to others.  For me, it is summertime in a shell.

*For my fellow southerners reading this, I realize the term “sweet iced tea” is doubly redundant.  I used that term for the benefit of those reading this who would think of something totally different had I simply said “tea”.
**This is me embracing my southern heritage, not making a political or social statement.

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