Saturday, October 29, 2011

Boiled Peanuts, a Tasty Southern Snack.


Hey! Welcome to another installment of Cast Iron Therapy. Special greetings to all of the new followers through reddit who have started following the blog during my Seven Days of Alton Brown Series.

Now, let’s get back to the usual postings. Today’s post is focusing locally, on the Centerville Farmers Market, located in my hometown of Fremont, California.


I woke up feeling fairly motivated today, so I put on some comfortable jeans and walked the one and a half miles there. Here’s my loot from this morning’s trip, some lovely little squash and a pound and a half of fresh (also known as green, even though they don’t look green) peanuts.


I picked up the peanuts because due to curiosity, having heard a bit about boiled peanuts, and how they are very traditional in the South, and rather unheard of in other regions. I wanted to see what the fuss was about.

This almost was the unofficial 8th Alton Brown post, given that the Good Eats book had an application for boiled peanuts, but that required a designation of time that I didn’t really want to use given the amount of time it suggested for boiling, three to four hours and potentially three more.

I’m fine with taking a long time to marinate things and prepare, but when it comes to using the gas burners for potentially seven hours? A bit much folks, I sometimes actually like to walk the walk of sustainability. Thankfully, many inspired peanut boilers have used the miracle of pressure cooking to reduce the cooking time to a mere fraction of that, from five (?!) to fifteen minutes. After some consideration, I opted to use the method suggested in the comments section of the very talented Elise’s Simply Recipes.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a southerner, as much as I love southern cooking, so I hope I’m not missing anything key here! But the results were good, so take a look at what I did.

What you’ll need (recipe in short at the bottom):

  • A pressure cooker
  • One to two pounds of fresh peanuts
  • Enough water to cover your nuts, but measure it!
  • Kosher salt, 1/4 cup for every two cups you use (yes I know it’s an odd measure, but I don’t see many people with 1/16 dry measures around, and you’ll definitely need more than four cup of water if you’ve got a pound of peanuts), or two tablespoons of table salt if kosher salt isn’t handy
  • And optionally, some shrimp boil for a bit of spice, two tablespoons for four to six cups of water is fine


You don’t really use boil in a bag for this sort of thing, but it’s been waiting in the pantry to be used for a while now.

Now comes the intensive part, washing your nuts thoroughly.


You’re going to want to get them really clean. If you’re lucky enough to have a sink in your backyard with a garden, take advantage of the setup to water your plants. Remember, sustainability!


Use your hands, get into it.


One rinsing in water isn’t enough.


I needed six changes of water before I felt that the peanuts were clean enough for the next step.


Drain and get ready.


Since I had about a pound and a half of peanuts I needed six cups of water.


To that I added 5/8 of a cup of kosher salt.


And then two tablespoons of whatever spice you’re going to use, if you are.


Give everything a thorough stir to incorporate the spice and dissolve the salt.


Seal your pressure cooker and put on high heat for ten minutes and check them for consistency. I read much about adjust how many pounds of pressure to use but I’ve never owned a pressure cooker that allowed such adjustment. So I just closed it and went for it.


In my case I put them on for another five minutes and I think they turned out really well.


A nice neat package surrounding some delicious.


I was really struck by the pale cream color of many of the peanut skins. Or is it the paper?

Just the right amount of salt with an interesting nutty and creamy texture. Creamy actually isn’t quite the right word, but they’re definitely not your typical roasted peanuts. I could actually get used to having peanuts in this style over the roasting method.

Pretty sizable little buggers from the farmers market.


This one won the prize for impressiveness in size of the peanuts I bought.


The aftermath of one sitting, and before lunch no less! Perhaps I should have waited before doing this. After all, with a pressure cooker, it hardly takes any time at all.


Thanks for reading, see you next time.

Recipe modified and adapted from Simply Eats and commentary:

  • pound and a half fresh or raw peanuts in shell, washed in several changes of water until it runs clear
  • six cups of water
  • 5/8 cup kosher salt or 2 tbsp. of table salt
  • two tablespoons shrimp boil

In a pressure cooker, cover cleaned peanuts with water, add salt and spices, then put on high heat for 10 minutes and once the cooker depressurizes, check for doneness. If not, put back on the heat for another five minutes, continuing as necessary.

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