Boiled Peanuts The Official Snack of South Carolina
Yumm Yumm. Teresa found some fresh green peanuts at the IGA in Aynor Saturday. She just finished boiling them and they are delicious. Fortunately she put a few bags in the freezer so I can enjoy them for weeks to come.
Did you know that “Boiled Peanuts” are the official snack of the State of South Carolina (I didn’t). Yep, it’s the law. Governor Mark Sanford signed the bill in 2006 amending the State Code. “The General Assembly finds that boiled peanuts are a delicious and popular snack food that are found both in stores and roadside stands across the State, and this unique snack food is defined as peanuts that are immersed in boiling water for at least one hour while still in the shell. The General Assembly further finds that this truly Southern delicacy is worthy of designation as the official state snack food.”
Boiled peanuts are found everywhere in the southern states. They’re served at social and public events, ball games, and family gatherings. You can find them at roadside produce stands and in many convenience stores when fresh raw peanuts are in season.
Boiling peanuts also infuses the “nuts” (actually beans) with antioxidants from the shells. Boiled peanuts have 4 times the antioxidants as raw or roasted peanuts.
The recipe is simple but there are variations. Basically fresh, green, raw peanuts are boiled in salt water until the peanuts are soft. Variations include the type of salt, water, and peanuts used.
Some cooks swear the salt enhances the flavor and they’ll insist that rock, kosher, table, or sea salt provides the best results. Other cooks swear by the water with local or regional artesian, well, or spring water preferred by connoisseurs and purists.
The best peanuts are either Valencia, or Virginia varieties though other varieties are used depending on what’s grown locally. Everyone agrees that the best flavor is obtained from freshly harvested raw green peanuts. Though dried peanuts are sometimes used, they take much longer to cook, aren’t as flavorful, and often have to be soaked overnight before cooking.
To prepare boiled peanuts, thoroughly wash 4-5 pounds of fresh raw peanuts. Be sure to remove any sticks. stones, stems and ugly peanuts. Place the clean peanuts in a large stock pot, cover with water and add 1 cup of salt. Add more salt if you like them saltier. Boil 2-3 hours or until the peanuts inside the shell are soft and no longer crunchy.
Some non-traditional cooks like to add ground red pepper or pepper flakes to give them a little kick.
Boiled peanuts are best paired with a cold “American” beer, sweet ice tea, an ice-cold Coke or a “red cap” Blenheim Ginger Ale (the unofficial soft drink of South Carolina)
If you’ve never tried boiled peanuts you really should. Just like grits, hush-puppies, pimento cheese, and sweet iced tea, boiled peanuts are an integral part of southern food culture and they’re addictively Delicious..