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

Eating homegrown peanuts

Curing peanutsPeanuts are one of our easiest crops...until the time comes to eat them.  As long as I choose a sunny, loamy spot for the plants, they grow like crazy and outcompete weeds even if I forget to mulch them.  Digging them is easy, and I'm testing out a new method of curing peanuts on a line under the porch roof which seems to be equally speedy.

The trouble is that my fingers get sore from peanut shell fibers after about ten minutes of shelling.  I'm extremely ashamed to admit that I made one batch of homemade peanut butter last fall, and then let the other half of our harvest sit on a shelf while we bought peanut butter from the store.  There has to be an easier way to get those doggone peanuts out of their shells!

"In Africa it takes 5 people all day to shell 100 lbs. of sun dried peanuts," writes the Fully Belly Project, who send hand-cranked peanut sheller kits Universal nut shellerto Africa.  But no one seems interested in making similar peanut shellers for homesteaders in the U.S.  Instead, the best I could find on the internet is a little hand-held nutcracker, or the option of taking your peanuts to an industrial-scale shelling facility.

Although I love peanut butter, I wouldn't mind turning our peanuts into salted, roasted peanuts since Mark enjoys salty snacks and would probably crack them a few at a time as he ate them.  It looks like if I mixed a cup of salt into a gallon of water, soaked the peanuts for six to eight hours, poured off the water and let the nuts drain for 24 hours, and then roasted them for ten or fifteen minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, I might come up with a snack Mark would enjoy.

Any other ideas for eating our peanuts that don't rub my fingers raw?  Or has anyone had experience with making homemade, salted peanuts?  I'm all ears!

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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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Sounds a bit odd but boil the peanuts in the shell! Kind of a southern thing, but everything im down in FL I have to stop at at least 3 roadside vendors and grab a couple bags.
Comment by David Z Mon Sep 19 08:26:57 2011
Well, not quite the answer you're looking for, but there's always boiled peanuts. It's a popular snack around here. Doesn't help with the peanut butter prospects though.
Comment by Shannon Mon Sep 19 08:44:23 2011
Sounds like it's time for a new invention - or at least some junkyard engineering!
Comment by Jessie : Improved Mon Sep 19 09:38:47 2011

1) Use the wringer on your washing machine. Set the wringer rolls on a distance slightly bigger than the diameter of the nuts themselves, and slightly smaller than that of the shells. Put the peanuts in a cloth bag or old pillowcase, and feed that through the wringer. It should at least crack the shells.

2) Build a universal nut sheller (which in principle isn't more than an upsized burr mill). (Building moulds for the concrete parts of the nut sheller isn't that hard. Use a conical flowerpot to cast the inner part in. Then use beeswax to modify the outside of the cone to a different tangent, put it in a box and cast the outside around it. The goal of the beeswax is to create a different profile on the outside of the pot, so that the space between the inner and outer cast concrete parts gets smaller as the peanuts drop down. If you're interested, I could make you a sketch if this isn't clear.)

3) Ye olde mortar and pestle should work, but the nut sheller is a lot faster.

Comment by Roland_Smith Mon Sep 19 14:30:52 2011

David and Shannon --- Yet more proof that Appalachia's not part of the south --- I've never tried boiled peanuts and don't have a clue if we like them. If I can talk myself into it, I might give it a try. :-)

Jessie --- I totally agree! Maybe we can build our own universal nut sheller the way Roland suggests below.

Roland --- The universal nut sheller is what the nonprofit I linked to gives to folks in Africa. I was hoping they had a kit we could buy in the US, but your idea of making one ourselves sounds intriguing as a winter project. I think I might need more info to completely parse what you were describing, but we wouldn't try to make anything for a while, so I'll poke you when I get stuck. :-)

I like your other two ideas, but they sound a bit messy/tough. I may try your wringer idea if the idea my mom sent me doesn't work. (It's pretty similar, but rolls over the enclosed nuts with a rolling pin, which sounds easier.)

Comment by anna Mon Sep 19 18:28:58 2011

I live in zone 3 so peanuts out of my area of knowledge.

Are you roasting them before you shell them?

I did see plans online for a peanut sheller of some sort, but I don't recall where, if I remember I will let you know.

Comment by Justin Pierce Mon Sep 19 20:00:33 2011

I think you will like boiled peanuts. I easily found several "recipes" online so you shouldn't have any trouble with ideas. It's just boiling the peanuts in salt water. The trick is getting enough salt and boiling until the peanuts are tender. You might be able to find some in a can at the grocery store. It would be a good sample opportunity and they are surprising good for not home cooked. We stick with the plain salted kind and stay clear of the hot and spicy options.

I need to start looking for some to boil myself. I'm considering growing some next year. The last time I tried to grow just a few in the garden, something helped themselves to my seeds. I don't think I had one plant come up.

Good luck. Let us know how it goes.


Comment by Jeremy Tue Sep 20 07:27:36 2011

Justin --- Yup, I was going to roast them before shelling if I tried the snack route. Please do check back if you find plans for a peanut sheller!

Jeremy --- Clearly we're going to have to try at least a small batch of boiled peanuts. I did once eat and enjoy peanut butter soup, so I guess I like them boiled in certain ways... :-)

Your problem was probably bad seeds not critters. Peanut seeds outside the shell don't last long at all, so it's best to make sure the ones you buy are very fresh. Nearly all seeds are good the second year, but when I did my seed test this spring, I found out that our second year peanut seeds weren't going to sprout.

Comment by anna Tue Sep 20 07:41:57 2011
Before trying to invent something, set your hammer mill (ie chipper/shredder) on 1000 rpm and drop a few peanuts thru. If peanuts are broken, lower the speed. If shells are not broken, increase the speed.
Comment by Errol Tue Sep 20 08:03:41 2011
I've been told its pronouced "bold peanuts" in the south. When I tried them they were prettty good but only when hot and fresh, so make it up in small batches. If they sit for a couple hours then they are just kind of soggy salty nuts.
Comment by Rebecca Tue Sep 20 08:09:57 2011

Daddy --- Thanks for the reminder! You mentioned that before, and I had forgotten. I'll have to give it a try.

Rebecca --- Thanks for the tip on small batches. Since we don't know if we'll hate them, we'll definitely make our first try a small batch. :-)

Comment by anna Tue Sep 20 16:51:15 2011

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