By Christy Jordan
Boiled peanuts have been popular in the South since at least the Civil War when our troops used to carry them as a large part of their rations. With salt being a natural preservative, the boiled peanuts could be carried and eaten for up to a week, providing a quick nutritional source on the go and helping to make up for the piteous lack of meat in the southern soldier’s diet.
The first time I ever had boiled peanuts was when I was a girl, not more then seven or eight. My family and I took the first of many trips to the Smoky Mountains with a set of grandparents, my mother’s father and stepmother whom we called Papa Reed and Cornetha. I had 13 grandparents when I was born. We were driving up these winding roads through the Smoky Mountains and Cornetha saw a roadside vendor and wanted to stop. I was curious as to what would get her so excited and when she bought a cup of wet peanuts, my curiosity was piqued. They had steam coming from them and the most delicious smell that set my stomach to grumbling. Cornetha shared them with me and likely ended up sharing a lot more than she got herself after I had a taste of my first one.
1-pound raw or green peanuts
Cover peanuts with water, add salt. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for about three hours, or more if you like. Place entire peanut in your mouth to eat and then crack open with your teeth, drinking the juice and eating the peanut while discarding the shell.
After they are done being cooked, if they are too salty for you, personally, I don’t believe in such a thing as “too salty” when it comes to these, simply add a few more cups of water to dilute the cooking water and cook for half an hour more or so. If they are not salty enough, add a bit more salt and give it a half hour as well to get good and incorporated. The amount of salt I am listing here is what I have found perfect to replicate the roadside peanuts I love so much.
Christy Jordan publishes www.southernplate.com. Her columns on Southern recipes are featured in several online publications and can soon be seen in Southern Beauty Magazine. Her cookbook, Southern Plate, Recipes From Below The Mason Dixon Line, is available on her website and at Pablo’s.