September 13, 2012 marks National Peanut Day. A day to revel in all things peanutty. While many see Americas Ultimate snack food as the Ultimate nut. It is not a nut at all but a legume or a plant from the bean & pea family, hence the name. Regardless of their name, Peanuts are very high in protein, more than other legumes or nuts. They also have fiber, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. Unfortunately, there is a relatively high incidence of peanut allergies which has put the peanut slightly out of favor.
While in my own little bubble of agriculture legumes of all kinds are necessary to successful crop rotation and not to mention they are quite enjoyable. Last week I had a delightful conversation with Rachael from Edible Wasatch. Who to my surprise informed me that many growers are passing up the grand opportunity to grow from this amazing plant family. Which means not only are they missing out on all the amazing bean varietals that can be grown in Utah but also the amazing Peanut. In a crop rotation they would ideally follow your potatoes or solanaceae family and proceed your cabbage or brassicas family. Peanuts are fairly easy to grow in our Utah climate. The seeds can either be started inside or under cloches outside. While you could order your seeds online, you have the option of going to the grocery store and picking up some Raw Peanuts (not roasted) and still in shell and plant them either with the shell on or shelled. I space about 2 inches apart. Warmer climates would benefit from 4 inch spacing. They grow much like a potato, with low growing foliage, that when ready to harvest you turn over with a fork. The pods are left on the uprooted plants to dry. Larger harvests are typically left in the field to dry while smaller plantings are brought in, to be protected from hungry critters.
Well for those of us that can still partake of peanut bliss, I would like to share a few recipes in honor of this day.
The first being the infamous boiled peanut. The unique smell of cooking peanuts takes me back to the summers of my childhood. Boiled Peanuts are a quintessential southern snack. Which can be enjoyed throughout The Bible Belt at festivals, markets, roadside stands and county fairs. Typically eaten outside where the messy skins can be tossed away.
Boiled Peanuts Recipe
If you are making boiled peanuts for the first time, work with a small batch (like the one pound recipe that follows). If they end up too salty, use less salt the next time. If you like them softer, cook them longer. The inside nuts themselves should be completely soft. If crunchy or crisp, they need to cook longer.
- 1 Pound of Raw Green Peanuts
- 4 Cups Water
- ¼ Cup Kosher Salt (or 2 Tbsps. table salt)
- 2 Tbsps. smoked paprika, or star anise
Thoroughly rinse raw unshelled peanuts in water.
Put water, salt, seasoning, peanuts in a large stockpot. Bring to a low boil. Cover and reduce the heat just enough to maintain a low boil. Boil for 2 to 3 hours or longer (some boil their peanuts all day), until peanuts reach desired level of softness.
Drain. Eat up within a couple of days. Boiled peanuts don't save as well as dry. You can store them in the brine in the fridge for 2 days, but hot and fresh is really the only way to have them. So work in small batches if you need.
Now that we have celebrated National Peanut Day, with a salty snack. It is time to tame that sweet tooth.
The Best Peanut Butter Icing!
I could eat this on everything from crackers to bananas but a moist chocolate cake is a great carrier for this supreme treat.
· ½ Cup Butter, Softened
· 1 Cup Creamy Peanut Butter
· 3 Tbsps. Milk or as needed
· 2 Cups Powder Sugar
Beat Butter & Peanut Butter until smooth. Gradually add sugar add milk slowly and as needed. Beat 3 minutes or until fluffy. Enjoy!