The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Easier way to shell peanuts

Shelling peanutsA few weeks ago, I wrote that shelling peanuts is hard on the fingers and extremely time consuming on a large scale.  You all came back with some great tips for easier ways to shell peanuts, and I invited Mom over to help me try out some of the top contenders.

We decided to experiment with the simplest method first --- putting the peanuts in a cloth bag and rolling over it with a rolling pin.  This technique did a good job of cracking the shells (deleting the painful fingers problem), but we still had to pick the peanuts out since they didn't come all the way loose.  I figured the rolling pin method would be a good way to shell peanuts if you're eating as you shell and aren't trying to process enough for later.

When we got sick of hand-picking, I hauled our wimpy chipper-shredder out of the barn and gave it a try.  Daddy had suggested lowering the rpms to process peanuts, but since we converted the machine to electric (and since Mark was at a friend's house), I just turned it on as-is.

First we fed in all of last year's peanuts, collecting the debris on a cloth underneath.  The nut and shell mixture was daunting when we started to pick through it, but then I realized that I could pour whole handfuls into a pot of water to separate the shells and whole peanuts (which float) from the shelled nuts (which sink.)  Sending the floaters through the mill again cracked out any nuts that had been missed the first time around, then I repeated the float trick to pull out the rest of the nuts.

For a first attempt, the chipper-shredder did good work, but I'll definitely tweak my technique before trying again.  First, I really should have taken the peanuts off the stems before feeding them into the shredder --- the bits of stem in the second batch clogged up the works and I had to clean the shredder out by hand.  Second, I should have washed all of the dirt off the nutshells before shredding --- it turned out that the most laborious part of the process was picking out the few bits of soil that sank to the bottom with the nuts and didn't rinse off with a few changes of water.

Peanut pieces

You should be aware that the chipper-shredder will cut up your nuts to some extent --- I got mostly halves, with some smaller pieces and a few whole nuts.  This wasn't a problem since I just roasted all of the nuts with a little salt to create instant breakfast, but if you need whole peanuts, you'll be happier slowing down the chipper-shredder or finding some other way to shell your peanuts.

We've still got about a third of this year's crop left, which I plan to use for experiments with roasting salted peanuts in the shell and boiling peanuts.  More on that once I finish eating up my current batch.

By the way, nuts that fell into the grass didn't go to waste.  Lucy ate up as many as she could find and then our chicks went to work.  We'll be eating those peanuts one way or another.

Our chicken waterer keeps our flock healthy with POOP-free water.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Good info. Thanks for following up your earlier post. I've have never thought about the shells floating. But now I'll remember.

Instant breakfast? Do you do something else with it? Care to share more of this?

As for growing them, how many peanuts come off a single plant? How close together do they get planted?

As for boiled peanuts, that's an acquired taste. I'm from Maryland and when I was in the Navy in Jacksonville, FL just about every street corner had boiled peanuts for sale. I tried them from many places and I don't like them.

Comment by Greg S Wed Oct 12 10:10:04 2011

I don't tend to like cooking in the morning and am mostly off grains, which makes a healthy breakfast harder to manage. But I've found that some roast peanuts and an apple are perfect!

You might be interested in this post about growing peanuts and making peanut butter. To answer your specific questions, one plant makes several dozen peanuts. You plant them about as far apart as you'd plant bush beans (maybe four inches) and they pretty much take care of themselves. I figure I grew about 40 square feet worth of peanuts this year and, if I'd shelled them all, got perhaps 6 cups of nuts.

Record peanut yield is about 3,450 pounds per acre, which comes to about a quarter of a cup of shelled peanuts per square foot. So my yields are low to middling --- what you'd expect from growing them a bit far north and shelling them in such a way that I lost a significant quantity of nuts. But still not bad considering that I got about 3700 high protein calories from my average garden bed --- more than I get from white potatoes, sweet potatoes, or carrots, all of which are primarily carbs instead of protein.

Comment by anna Wed Oct 12 11:23:39 2011
"You should be aware that the chipper-shredder will cut up your nuts to some extent." I'd have gone for peanuts there instead of nuts. A great example of how our gender can affect our word selection. :)
Comment by Cameron Wed Oct 12 15:43:05 2011
First we post about a sex toy, then we talk about cutting up your nuts --- this blog is clearly going downhill fast. :-)
Comment by anna Wed Oct 12 16:51:20 2011
"A dirty mind is a joy for ever". :-)
Comment by Roland_Smith Wed Oct 12 19:38:17 2011

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