Cooking · Home Education

Folk Songs, Soldiers and A Little Southern History~Megan

Salt, salt, salt!!  If you are of the general population, chances are you have been told to eat less salt.  You’re told it’s not good for you in excess!  That’s probably true, unless you, like me, have POTS!   When you have POTS, it’s hard to stay hydrated and people who have POTS don’t usually retain enough salt.  Thus, we are encouraged to eat lot’s of salty foods, which at first may sound easy, but due to the amount we need to consume, it can pose more of a challenge than one might think!  Recently, while staying with some family, Katie and I were introduced to a salty snack that originated in the South.


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Now, being that I have lived in the North West all of my life, this was something I hadn’t ever heard of.  So, depending on your location, you may have heard of them or you may not have.  The snack we were introduced to was boiled peanuts.  They can be made homemade (which I will get to in a moment), but the ones I had were from a can.  Literally, they are peanuts, still in the shell, that are boiled and salted.  Seasoned with salt and surrounded by liquid in a can, you open it up, strain them and enjoy a tasty snack!  They tasted yummy, while resembling a more bean like flavor, which can be traced to their close relationship to other beans. 

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Now where the story of the boiled peanut gets more interesting is when you take a step back in time to see the history of this snack, of which I am told is a “Southern Delicacy.”  Let’ start with the peanut plant and how it got to America.  It appears that the peanut plant was introduced to the Southern United States through the slave trade and thus, we got our peanuts from Africa.  Although it should be noted that the plant  is thought to have originally originated in Peru or Brazil.


Traditionally, during the months of May through November, during the time peanuts are harvested, green un-roasted peanuts were boiled and salted!  I even read that after the turn of the century people would have what almost sounds like a barbecue, where they would have friends over and have a good time while boiling and eating peanuts.  It even had a competitive edge and while you might know Mr.Johnson down the block to make the best ribs, people knew and took pride in being known for making the best boiled peanuts!  Today, one state, South Carolina, has even gone so far as to make it their state’s official snack!


Although boiled peanuts are rumored to have originated during the Civil War and although that makes a lovely story, all the research I did, did not seem to lead to that conclusion.  As I just described above. As it’s not likely that boiled peanuts originated during the Civil War, that is not to say that their history is not intertwined with the historic war.  It does appears that Confederate soldiers ate boiled peanuts during the Civil War and that because of the excess of salt and it’s preserving qualities, the peanuts were less perishable and thus could be carried around for a period of time in soldiers bags.

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Soldiers really must have liked boiled peanuts or “goober peas” as they are sometimes called, because the song “Goober Peas” which originated in the South and was sung by Confederate soldiers, greatly praises this food!  You sure never hear of songs of soldiers praising hard tack!


“Goober Peas”

So there you have it, boiled peanuts, from nick name, history, official state snack and it’s song of praise!  Now that you have learned about it, if you want to try your hand at making this snack, here is a website that seemed to have a good recipe!  Although most recipes call for fresh green peanuts, if you are not able to get them I have read that you can take raw peanuts, rehydrate them by soaking them in water for 8-24 hours and then proceed to boil them. 

Happy Peanut Boiling,

~Megan Hinton~

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