The origins of boiled peanuts are not truly known and a couple of theories exist. Some attribute the idea to slaves who would boil the surplus peanuts after harvest and share with friends and family. Yet others believe it was the Confederate soldiers who first took to boiling peanuts when rations were scarce and boiled peanuts were a good source of nutrition that did not spoil in their canteens if salt was added. Boiled peanuts are not confined to the United States as you can find them as a popular street food snack in Asia, Africa, and Central and South America.
The key to boiled peanuts is using raw or “green” peanuts (those that have not been roasted). Simply put them in a pot of salted water and boil until softened. Salting the water is a key to enhancing the flavor but everything else is up to your personal preference. Recipes vary and may include hot sauce or Cajun spices for spicy ones or beer and ham hocks for a distinctive flavor.
Below is the recipe I like to use (but feel free to omit or add anything to the pot).
2 pounds raw peanuts
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup Creole seasoning (such as Tony Chachere’s®)
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
1 Tbsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp mustard seed
1 Tbsp whole black peppercorns
1 Tbsp crushed red chile flakes
2 bay leaves
In a large pot, combine all ingredients and 1 gallon of water in a large pot; boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, stirring occasionally, until peanuts are tender, about 4 hours. Cool in liquid before serving.
Peanuts in a sealed container can last for a week in the refrigerator.
Don't be scared, give these a try!