Legumes are hard foods that include lentils, garbanzo beans and peanuts. Foods within this category are softened before cooking by boiling in water. Peanuts are the exception. While many cooks believe that raw peanuts must be boiled before they can be used in a recipe, peanuts are best used with a more crunchy texture. The traditional boiling is more nutritious, however the roasted or French fried peanut is often more desirable for a recipe because of the additional crunch.
Why Some Soak
Soaking raw peanuts is a traditional southern process. The peanuts used are "green" peanuts in their shells that are picked fresh and them boiled, according to the University of Florida Extension. The boiling is done to make a traditional snack, but it is not required in order to prepare the nuts for cooking. Cooks, primarily those familiar with southern cooking, simply prefer the flavor of the boiled peanuts. It is also true that the nuts do have some nutritional advantages over the roasted and fried varieties.
If you choose not to boil the peanuts, you can roast them yourself. Do-it-yourself roasted peanuts are cheaper than the ones in the grocery store. They are also more nutritious, as you control the amount of salt and oil used in the roasting process. To roast the peanuts, try sprinkling salt over raw peanuts on a baking sheet. Cook them at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes or until the nuts are golden brown. Season to taste.
The French Fry
French fried peanuts recipes also do not require soaking first. It would hamper the frying and the final texture of the nuts. Heat 1.5 cups of peanut oil for every 2 cups of peanuts that you plan to fry. Let the oil reach 350 degrees Fahrenheit before placing in the nuts about one cup at a time. Cook them for about five minutes and then season with salt to taste.
Baking with Raw Peanuts
You can add the raw peanuts to any of your recipes to get the peanut flavor without the additional salt or oil. Roasted peanuts or the fried variety do provide a flavor that most Americans are accustomed to, but raw peanuts baked or cooked into a recipe can serve a similar purpose. You can always roast or fry the nuts on your own. You should, however, give the fresh raw peanuts a try in your regular peanut recipes.
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