Green Peanuts and Dried Peanuts
Understanding Raw Peanuts
Both green peanuts and dried peanuts are delicious when properly boiled.
Only raw peanuts can be boiled. Roasted peanuts cannot be boiled. Green peanuts are only available during harvest season because their high moisture content makes them unsuitable for long term storage.
Unless you were told that you are buying green peanuts, then the odds are that your raw peanuts are dried. This is regional. Green peanuts are not common beyond their growing regions, because of spoilage.
Dried peanuts are more common in more places, during all seasons, because they can be stored for several months. Seasonally, green peanuts can be purchased at Indian markets, and Asian markets, farmers markets, and online sellers. Dried raw peanuts can be purchased year round from many grocery stores, markets, and online stores.
If you have green peanuts then you must boil, roast, or freeze them within a few days of their harvest. Until cooked or frozen, green peanuts must be stored in a well ventilated, dry, cool location. Green peanuts will spoil within 10 to 14 days even when stored under the best conditions, unless they are frozen. Most online sellers of raw green peanuts require 2 day shipping, to insure freshness.
Dried peanuts can be safely stored for many months because they have been carefully dried to 10% moisture content. Dried peanuts are the cheapest, and the most available option for boiling peanuts for those of us that are at a distance from peanut farms.
Boiling peanuts is simple. You only need raw peanuts, water, salt, a cooking vessel, heat, and time. Wash the peanuts to remove debris. While washing them remove empty shells, and any bad peanuts. Wash them 3 times changing the water between washes.
Raw peanuts can be boiled in a pot, a pressure cooker, or a slow cooker.
Green peanuts need at least 1 hour of boiling, up to 4 hours. Raw, dried peanuts require more boiling, up to 24 hours in a slow cooker, or an open pot.
A pressure cooker boils dried peanuts more quickly, especially at higher altitudes. Consistency of flavor demands that you balance the amount of salt to the amount of water. It is the concentration of salt in the water that determines how salty the peanuts taste. The amount of peanuts does not matter.
1/2 cup of salt per gallon of water is a good starting point. That is equivalent to 1 tablespoon of salt per pint of water. Put the peanuts in the pot, leaving room at the top to avoid spillage. Add enough water to the pot to fully float the peanuts. If you put too many peanuts in the pot they will be packed too tightly, and cannot move about freely. Measure how much water you use to determine the salt is required. If you are using a pressure cooker follow the manufactures recommendation for liquid levels, and safety.
There is no advantage to putting the salt in the water early in the boiling, but it is okay if you do. The salt may slow the softening of the peanuts just as it does when boiling dried beans. The brine cannot penetrate into pods until the nuts have softened from cooking. We typically add salt to the water after the peanuts have softened to about 75% of our desired texture.
Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Taste samples of the peanuts as they cook, paying attention to their change in texture. Don't be concerned about their saltiness initially, because the peanuts will not taste salty until the brine has penetrated the shell. Don't be tempted to add more salt early in the cooking, or you will over salt them.
Add more plain water as needed to replace that which has boiled away. Do not let the pot dry out or the peanuts will burn, and may create a fire hazard. Never leave a simmering pot unattended. If you must walk away, turn off the burner, and they will simmer, and soak until you return.
If you did not initially salt the water add your measured salt to the pot after the peanuts are almost as soft as you intend. Let the peanuts simmer in the brine until they soften to your desired texture, and taste. Some people like their boiled peanuts a little crunchy, some like them rather soft. It's up to your taste.
After they soften to your liking turn off the burner, and let the peanuts soak in the cooling brine for an hour, or more. Soaking as they cool allows the flavor of the brine to saturate the peanuts. It's fine to let them soak in the brine for many hours because you've controlled the concentration of the salt in the water. You can soak the peanuts in the brine in the refrigerator, overnight. This will maximize the juicy flavor inside the peanuts.
Now that you know the difference between green peanuts, and dried peanuts; get some, and get boiling!