- Course: Snack
- Skill Level: Easy
- Cost: Inexpensive
- Favorited: 6 Times
Can be made ahead of time.
1. In a 3-gallon stockpot, dissolve ½ cup of the salt in 2 gallons of water and add the peanuts (the peanuts will float, but you can keep most of them submerged by using a dinner plate as a cap). Allow the peanuts to soak for 8 hours or overnight (see note below).
2. Discard the soaking water and fill the pot with 2 gallons of fresh water and the remaining 1 cup salt. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook at a low boil, covered, for 5 to 8 hours. Keep the water in the pot at roughly the same level with hourly additions of 2 cups water until the peanuts are soft (South Carolina-style peanuts are very soft, but some cooks prefer them al dente).
3. When the peanuts have boiled for 3 hours, sample them to check for texture and saltiness. Allow a peanut to cool, then crack open the shell to get at the kernels inside. If you find them too salty, remove some brine with a ladle or small pot and replace it with an equal amount of fresh water. If the peanuts are not salty enough, add salt in ¼ cup increments, turn off the heat, and let them soak for an hour to absorb the salt. If the peanuts are too crunchy for your taste, boil on. It can take as long as 12 hours if you prefer them mushroom-soft. Sample them every hour.
4. When the peanuts are cooked to your satisfaction, turn off the heat and cool for 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, drain and eat immediately or store (in the shell) in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Boiled peanuts will keep for 7 days in the refrigerator, several months in the freezer.
If you are pressed for time, the soaking step is not essential, but it reduces the cooking time by a couple of hours and helps ensure that the peanuts cook more thoroughly and uniformly. The salt in the soaking liquid keeps yeasts and molds from developing overnight.
Raw peanuts are unroasted peanuts, most raw peanuts are sun-dried in the shell to remove enough moisture to make them shelf—stable. But midsummer is high peanut season, and in markets throughout the Southeast you may be lucky enough to find “green” peanuts, which are raw peanuts freshly plucked from the ground. Their high moisture content gives them a hint more fresh-pea flavor (and cuts the cooking time in half), but it also makes them extremely perishable. If you do find them, keep them refrigerated and boil them as soon as possible.