While roasted peanuts are popular in yankee lands, boiled peanuts are popular where fresh peanuts grow… but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy them here. Fully mature peanuts do not make good quality boiled peanuts; rather raw or "green" ones are used. "Raw" denotes peanuts in a semi-mature state, having achieved full size, but not being fully dried, as would be needed for roasting or peanut butter use. After boiling they take on a strong salty taste and become softer with the length of cooking, somewhat resembling a pea or bean, to which they are related. The most flavorful peanuts for boiling are the Valencia type. These are preferred in the United States, being grown in gardens and small patches throughout the South. Green Virginia-type peanuts are also sometimes used.
Raw peanuts in the shell are put in a large pot of very heavily salted water and boiled. This can be done inside on the stove or outside on a propane burner for a larger volume. Depending on the locality, some cooks use rock salt or standard table salt, or both. The boil can go on from four to seven hours or more, depending on quantity and the age of the peanut (green peanuts cook faster and tend to be better tasting), and the boilings will most often be of several gallons of water. Flavorings such as ham hocks, hot sauce, Cajun seasonings or beer can be added to the boil. An alternative method for dried raw mature peanuts is to rehydrate them by soaking overnight in water, after which they can be cooked in the conventional manner. But don’t limit yourself to domestic flavors: in China, peanuts are generally boiled with star anise and a little salt.
The resulting food is a very soft peanut in the shell, invariably quite salty. The softened peanuts are easy to open. Often small, immature peanuts (called "pops" are included, which have even softer shells and can be eaten in entirety. These tend to absorb more salt than the larger ones. Some aficionados of the food prefer them cooked for a shorter period of time so that the nut is not quite so soft.
Uneaten peanuts should be stored in a refrigerator, as they can become slimy or moldy quite quickly without refrigeration. Boiled peanuts can be frozen, and later reheated in a microwave for out of season consumption.