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How To Boil Peanuts

By Ben Baker

Spikking as an expert in boilin peanuts-

1) Peanuts must be green. I.e. not mature. How do you tell? Ask someone who knows.

I know. Ask me. This generally will require me paying a personal visit to check on the maturity of your peanuts, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice. If I have to fly, I'll take first class, no smoking please. I'm willing to sit in the chewing section though.

2) Mature peanuts can be boiled, but will not be as good.

Mature peanuts are best served fried or "parched" which means roasted in an oven until the peanut rattles slightly in the shell. Parched peanuts should be heavily salted. You may shell these with your fingers or toes and may, in extreme circumstances, bite the hull to make the first crack to start the peeling process. Parched peanuts can also be crushed to make peanut butter.

Peanuts should be first shelled and then deep fried in peanut oil at 400 degrees. Peanuts will turn slightly darker when done. How do you tell if a peanut is mature? See No. 1.

3) Green peanuts are also raw peanuts.

But, green peanuts are also raw immature peanuts. Mature peanuts can also be raw. If you plan to boil peanuts, make sure you use green peanuts. You can boil mature peanuts, but they will also not be as good. Mature peanuts should be fried or parched.

Again, I will be glad to pay a visit to your peanut field and advise you on the status of your peanut crop maturity.

4) Peanuts must be boiled until tender. An hour won't do.

After an hour, start sampling the peanuts. If they are soft and shell easily, they are done. Care must be taken because if you boil the peanuts too long, they will stick in the shells, making them more difficulty to remove. This too should be done by an expert. Serious injury has resulted from inexperienced people testing and sampling boiling peanuts.

Amateur testers should be observed by a qualified expert, preferably one certified by the Southern Peanut Boiling Institute. As the founder and president of this SPBI, I will be glad to make personal schedule sacrifice and come oversee your peanut boiling efforts. If you wish to achieve the rank of certified peanut boiling expert, I will need to make several visits.

5) You will need more salt than you expect in the boiling water. This is a critical matter. If you add too little salt, the peanuts will not be nearly as good as they could be. If you add too much salt, the salt will absorb all the water and you will not have enough left in the pot to boil the peanuts.

Proper supervision is a must in this department as well. Please do not hesitate to contact me to make arrangements for me to assist you with your peanut boiling efforts.

6) You will never manage to boil enough peanuts in one boiling.

Unfortunately, this is a universal truth in peanut boiling. I have only witnessed a sufficient amount of peanuts being boiled in two different instances, both of which were at my family reunions. We took a semi trailer, cut the top off, filled the trailer with peanuts, water and salt and mounted 500 fish cookers under the trailer. The ensuing peanut boil was enough for the reunion with 3 leftover peanuts still in the hull at the end of the day.

You should not let this stop you. Boiled peanuts are one of the most valuable food items on the planet. They are nutritious, wholesome, filling and have actually stopped battles in the middle of a war.

During the War of Northern Aggression, Confederate Gen. William H. Fishbreath's men were defending Iron Mountain against a Union attack. Behind Confederate lines, a large peanut boil was taking place as the Confederate feared what might happen should the peanuts fall into enemy hands. Around 2 p.m., in the midst of heavy fighting, camp cook Bennie R. Baker announced the peanuts were done. Confederates called an immediate cease-fire to which the Union army agree. They all sat down and ate boiled peanuts until the expected catastrophe occurred.

They ran out of boiled peanuts.

The Union army was so incensed that, under the direction of William T. Sherman, they left Iron Mountain and began Sherman's March to Find More Boiled Peanuts.

As you can see, boiling peanuts is a potentially hazardous undertaking. Please, for the sake of the nation, do not attempt to do boil peanuts without adequate supervision.

Copyright 2006 Ben Baker

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Ben Baker, Editor of "The Wiregrass Farmer" in Ashburn, Georgia, and member of  "Southern Humorists," was awarded First Place in the Personal Column category from Trib Publications news awards.   His column was a moving tribute to a soldier, David Bass, and to all soldiers who risk their lives to defend ordinary people.

When asked about the award, Ben said: "Yep. I rock. More importantly, the column rocked. More importantly than that, the inspiration for the column rocked."

In addition to being an award-winning journalist, Ben is a very funny guy who calls himself the  world's official redneck genius. You can get his columns emailed to you at [email protected] or ask him for advice, solicit money, issue threats or whatever else might strike your fancy at [email protected]

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