How to Boil Peanuts
Wondering how to boil peanuts to perfection? The quality of your raw peanuts is critically important, as is time. Time is an essential factor when boiling peanuts.
Boiling time softens the peanuts, and soaking time increases the juicy flavor inside the shells. The amount of time required to boil peanuts depends on the raw peanuts' maturity, size, kernel moisture content, and your taste.
You might be boiling green Valencia peanuts that are small, immature, fresh dug, and full of moisture, or boiling raw Jumbo Virginia peanuts that are mature, and have been dried to 10% kernel moisture content. Green peanuts should boil at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours, and dried raw peanuts may require up to 24 hours of boiling to soften to your liking. Some people like boiled peanuts as soft as mashed potatoes, and some of us like them with a little snap. It's up to you to decide when they are done boiling.
You must sample your peanuts as they boil in order to decide when they have softened to your liking.
You need to know your peanuts. Learn each bag that you buy by boiling a few, and tasting them as you observe how their texture changes as they cook. This is the way to learn how to boil peanuts, whether they are green, or dried.
It's simple, fun, and delicious. After boiling samples from a batch of raw peanuts, you can repeat that recipe with the rest of the batch. Some people prefer a firmer, crisper boiled peanut, others prefer a softer peanut.
How to Boil Peanuts
Rinse the raw peanuts several times to remove debris. Put the rinsed raw peanuts in a stove pot, or a slow cooker. Add water to the pot, enough to float the peanuts, leaving at least 1" room at the top of the pot. Measure the water as you add it. Mix in about 8 tablespoons, 1/2 cup, of salt per gallon of water.
Bring the water, peanuts, and salt to a boil. Boiling time depends on whether you have green peanuts or raw dried peanuts.
Green peanuts need to boil at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. Dried raw peanuts must be cooked much longer. Dried peanuts may require boiling up to 24 hours until they soften. If your water is hard, full of minerals, or you are boiling at high altitude, then your boiling times for dried peanuts may be greater than 24 hours. Using a pressure cooker to boil peanuts will reduce boiling time by many hours whether you are at sea level, or at high altitude.
The qualities of a perfect boiled peanut go beyond softness, saltiness, and wetness, though these are good starting points for discussion. It's not easy to describe the taste, and texture changes that raw peanuts go through as they boil. However, these changes are quite noticeable when you taste the peanuts as they boil.
Raw peanuts are very firm, and have a green, or vegetal taste. They taste somewhat like a raw pea, or raw green bean. As they boil, the peanuts start softening, yet remain rather firm, with no salty flavor from the liquid. The raw taste diminishes as they boil longer, and the peanuts start tasting more savory as they soften. When they have softened to your liking, remove the pot from the burner, and let the peanuts soak in the cooling brine. They will not taste salty, yet. Soaking makes the boiled peanuts salty, and wet inside the shells.
Do not be tempted to add salt before the peanuts are fully softened, and saturated with the brine. This is a common mistake. If a recipe says "Remove the peanuts quickly from the liquid or they will be too salty", then they called for too much salt in the first place. When the right amount of salt is used per unit water, the boiled peanuts could soak for days in the brine, in the refrigerator, and not become too salty.
Cooking beyond done will not improve the quality, but they will still be good if left soaking. Boiled peanuts become more moist, and flavorful as they soak in the brine. Fortunately, there is a wide margin of time for boiling tasty peanuts. It's not hard to learn how to boil peanuts, as long as you taste them periodically as they cook.
Now you know how to boil peanuts. Boiling dried peanuts takes many hours. Pay attention. Never leave a boiling pot of peanuts unattended on a stove. When the water boils away, a fire can start from the dried contents, and the pot can melt. Turn off the burner if you must walk away. The peanuts will continue to simmer in the cooling water until you return.
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