Autumn brings with it familiar cool weather foods, from apples and gourds, to pumpkin spice everything. But chefs and foodies in the South get most excited about another fall harvest crop – green peanuts.
Green peanuts are not actually green. Rather, the name refers to their condition after harvesting. Freshly dug peanuts have a high moisture content. Peanuts are usually dried in the field or in a commercial drying facility so that they can be sold as raw peanuts for roasting. The peanuts that are not dried but sold immediately after being dug are considered green peanuts. The moisture in green peanuts reduces their shelf life, so they must be refrigerated, frozen or cooked immediately after harvest.
So, what’s so great about green peanuts? They’re perfect for boiling!
Peanuts are technically a legume, even though they have some of the same characteristics as nuts. The high moisture content of green peanuts gives them a softer texture similar to beans. That means they are easier to boil than raw or roasted peanuts, and the texture is usually more ideal. They also absorb more flavor from the boiling liquid.
Besides being a staple at roadside stands, farmer’s markets and football games, boiled peanuts are a popular autumn ingredient for chefs across the South. From chef Hugh Acheson’s boiled peanut hummus, to chef Steven Satterfield’s field pea and boiled peanut salad, green peanuts deliver a uniquely Southern twist to their restaurant menus.
Peanut farmer, Clay Oliver, cold-presses raw peanuts to produce a fresh, earthy-tasting peanut oil known as green peanut oil, giving chefs and culinarians even more uses for this nutty legume.
Find out what all the fuss is about and celebrate the flavors of fall by walking past the pumpkin spice and heading toward the produce aisle for some green peanuts. Then check out these recipes to put them to good use.