Gut Rumbles

August 21, 2007

Boiled peanuts

Originally published May 27, 2002

I was a six year-old hillbilly boy uprooted from the mountains of Harlan County, Kentucky and transplanted in Savannah, Georgia in 1959. I had been in this strange new place less than a month when my Georgia grandmother (91 year-old Mommie is my Kentucky grandmother) took my brother and me to the beach one day. We had a grand time playing in the surf and building castles in the sand, and there's just something about being around salt water that makes you REALLY HUNGRY. When a vendor in a big straw hat came walking down the beach selling small bags of peanuts for five cents, I wanted some. My grandmother bought two bags.

I eagerly ripped open the bag and plunged my hand inside, expecting to find the nice, dry, rough-shelled roasted peanuts I ate in Kentucky. Instead, I felt these wet, soft YUCKY THINGS in the bag. I didn't know what they were, but I knew damned well that they WERE NOT PEANUTS! I refused to eat them. They gave me the creeps.

That was my very first exposure to boiled peanuts. I eventually overcame the creeps, and since that day I probably have eaten several tons of boiled peanuts. Once you acquire the taste, you'll never want peanuts cooked any other way.

The best ones are made from fresh, newly-harvested green peanuts. (Some people dry the peanuts and boil them later, but those taste like blackeyed peas. For the best taste, cook them right away and then freeze them.) I buy them by the bushel (usually about $30, depending on the size of the crop that year), wash all the sand off them and throw them into a huge pot I have that will hold an entire bushel. I fill the pot with water, add a box of salt (one pound, ten ounces) and bring the pot to a slow boil on my propane cooker. I cook them for about an hour and a half, then turn the heat off and let them soak in the salty water until the peanuts sink. Then, I put them in quart zip-lock bags and throw them in the freezer. They're good for over a year that way. I always save some to eat on Super Bowl Sunday. Just let them thaw on the kitchen counter overnight or put them in the microwave. Yum, yum!

Boiled peanuts are soft, salty and delicious. Nothing is better with a cold beer, and they are the perfect snack for a day at the beach or a boat trip on the river. Or for watching the Super Bowl. Or FOR BREAKFAST. Boiled peanuts are a true Southern delight and I live in the #1 peanut-growing state in the nation.

Try 'em. You'll like 'em.

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