When I was an undergrad at Florida State, I had a game day ritual. Six minutes before halftime, I would head down to the concessions area and pick up a large Powerade and some boiled peanuts, which would provide my nourishment during the halftime show. I remember the salty goodness of the briny peanuts that were the perfect snack on either a hot or cool day. As a result, boiled peanuts and the fall football season became intimately linked in my mind.
Fast forward a couple of years and we’re now living in the middle of boiled peanut country. Almost every North Carolina country road has a boiled peanuts stand completely with a huge silver pot cooking immeasurable quantities of peanuts. Whenever I pass by these stands, it seems like I always see them a second too late to stop, which has resulted in an unintentional peanut fasting these last couple of years.
Well, last weekend on my drive back from Tallahassee, I finally saw one with enough time to stop. I walked up to the stand with anticipation just as another car was pulling away, but before I could utter a word, the girl informed me that the car that just left bought all of her peanuts. Oh the humanity! I must have looked utterly crestfallen because she quickly grabbed a plastic baggy and said, “I think I have about 7 peanuts left. You can have them free of charge.” And so I left the peanut stand, pitiful baggy in hand, forlorn and dejected.
My dejection didn’t last long though because as I swung by the grocery store on my way into town, I saw a bag of big, fat raw peanuts just begging to be boiled. With renewed energy, I went home and vowed to make them the next day. And I did. And they were everything I’d ever dreamed of. The end.
Just kidding. Here’s how you too can make your own boiled peanuts at home!
For a 2 lb. bag peanuts, you’ll need about 3/4 or 1 cup of salt. Just wash your peanuts, put them in a large stock pot, fill the pot with water, add the salt and bring them to a boil. They’re going to boil for about 3-4 hours, so you’ll want to check on them every 30 minutes or so to make sure that they have enough water in them. I almost burned them right at the end when the water evaporated too quickly. Make sure to add more water (and a little bit of salt) as you need to.
After about 3 hours, check a peanut to taste the firmness. You’ll want to cut the heat right before they’re perfectly cooked. I like my to retain a little bit of a bite to them and not to be soggy or mushy. Then, my friend Jason posted this very helpful tip – once they’re just about done, turn off the heat and let the peanuts sit in the brine. As they fill up with the juices, they will start to sink and this soaking/cooling process helps them get salty. Taste them every 15 minutes or so and drain the brine when they’re just right according to your preferred level of saltiness.
I like my incredibly salty, so I err on the side of 1 cup of salt and I let them soak for a good bit. Seriously, they were incredibly tasty. I was quite pleased…and very full. You can also experiment with different types of flavors, but I’m a sucker for the original. I hope that you all will enjoy this Southern tradition as much as I have.