Peanuts have many uses. They can be eaten raw, used in recipes, made into solvents and oils, medicines, textile materials, and peanut butter, as well as many other uses. Popular confections made from peanuts include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, peanut candy bars, peanut butter cookies, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail-size plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their relative cost compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. Although peanut butter has been a tradition on camping trips and the like because of its high protein content and because it resists spoiling for long periods of time, the primary use of peanut butter is in the home. Large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, confectionery, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and often eaten as a snack. More recently, fried peanut recipes have emerged – allowing both shell and nut to be eaten. Peanuts are also used in a wide variety of other areas, such as cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints.
Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavour and a relatively high smoke point. Due to its high monounsaturated content, it is considered more healthy than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. There are several types of peanut oil including: aromatic roasted peanut oil, refined peanut oil, extra virgin or cold pressed peanut oil and peanut extract. See Peanut Oil.
Peanut flour is lower in fat than peanut butter, and is popular with chefs because its high protein content makes it suitable as a flavour enhancer. Peanut flour is used as a gluten-free solution. See Peanut Flour.
Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the southern United States, as well as in India, China (Chinese Style Braised Peanuts) and West Africa.
Dry Roasted Peanuts
Dry peanuts can be roasted in the shell in a home oven if spread out one layer deep in a pan and baked at a temperature of 175°C for 18–20 minutes.
Peanut Soup or Groundnut soup is a soup made from peanuts, often with various other ingredients. It is a staple of African cuisine (West African Peanut Soup) but it’s also eaten in East Asia (Taiwan) (Fa Sung Woo – Chinese Sweet Peanut Soup), the United States (mainly in Virginia) (Colonial Williamsburg’s Cream of Peanut Soup) and other areas around the world. In Ghana it is often eaten with Fufu.
Peanuts in World Cuisines
Peanuts are used in many sauces for South American meat dishes, especially rabbit. Peanuts are common in Peruvian cuisine, which marries native and European ingredients. For instance, roasted peanuts and hot peppers, both native to South America, appear with roasted onions, garlic, and oil — all of European origin — in a smooth sauce poured over boiled potatoes, a dish well known in the city Arequipa and called Papas con Ocopa (See Salsa de Ocopa). Another example is a fricassee combining a similar mixture with sautéed seafood or boiled and shredded chicken. These dishes are generally known as ajíes, meaning “hot peppers”, such as Ají de Pollo and Ají de Mariscos. (Seafood ajíes may omit peanuts.)
Likewise, during Colonial times, the Spanish in Peru used peanuts to replace nuts unavailable in Peru but used extensively in Spanish cuisine, such as almonds, pine nuts, and other nuts, typically ground or as paste and mixed with rice, meats, and vegetables for dishes such as rice pilaf.
Crunchy coated peanuts, called Kabukim in Hebrew, are a popular snack in Israel. Kabukim are commonly sold by weight at corner stores where fresh nuts and seeds are sold, though they are also available packaged. The coating typically consists of flour, salt, starch, lecithin, and sometimes sesame seeds. The origin of the name is obscure.(It may be derived from kabuk which means nutshell or husk in Turkish.) An additional variety of crunchy coated peanuts popular in Israel is “American peanuts”. The coating of this variety is thinner, but harder to crack.
Another popular Israeli peanut snack, Bamba puffs, is similar in shape to Cheez Doodles, but are made of corn and flavoured with peanut butter.
Peanuts are also widely used in Southeast Asian cuisine, particularly Indonesia, where they are typically made into a spicy sauce. Peanuts originally came to Indonesia from the Philippines, where the legume came from Mexico in times of Spanish colonisation.
In the Indian subcontinent, peanuts are known as a light snack by themselves, usually roasted and salted (sometimes with the addition of chilli powder), and often sold roasted in pod, or boiled with salt. They are also made into little dessert or sweet snack pieces by processing with refined sugar and jaggery. Indian cuisine uses roasted, crushed peanuts to give a crunchy body to salads; they are added whole (without pods) to leafy vegetable stews for the same reason. Another use of peanut oil as cooking oil. Most Indians use mustard, sunflower, and peanut oil for cooking. Peanuts are not native to India. They are thought to have come to India from Philippines. Notably, the name of this nut in northern parts of Tamil Nadu is ‘மணிலாக் கொட்டை’- slang மல்லாக் கொட்டை- (Manila-k-kottai) means nut from Manila, the capital city of Philippines.
Peanuts grow well in southern Mali and adjacent regions of the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal; peanuts are similar in both agricultural and culinary qualities to the Bambara groundnut native to the region, and West Africans have adopted the crop as a staple. Peanut sauce, prepared with onions, garlic, peanut butter/paste, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower, can be vegetarian (the peanuts supplying ample protein) or prepared with meat, usually chicken.
Peanuts are used in the Mali meat stew Maafe. In Ghana, peanut butter is used for peanut butter soup Nkate Nkwan. Crushed peanuts may also be used for peanut candies Nkate cake and Kuli-kuli, as well as other local foods such as oto. Peanut butter is also an ingredient in Nigeria’s “African salad”.
Peanut powder is an important ingredient in the spicy coating for Kebabs in Nigeria and Ghana.
Peanuts are a common ingredient of several types of relishes (dishes which accompany nshima) eaten by the tribes in Malawi and in the eastern part of Zambia, and these dishes are now common throughout both countries. Thick peanut butter sauces are also made in Uganda to go with rice and other starchy foods. Across East Africa, roasted peanuts (often in cones of newspaper) are a popular snack sold in the street.
In the US, peanuts are used in candies, cakes, cookies, and other sweets. They are also enjoyed roasted and salted. Peanut butter is one of the most popular peanut-based foods in the US, and for four hundred years, recipes for peanut soup have been present in the South, Virginia in particular. In some southern portions of the US, peanuts are boiled for several hours until soft and moist. Peanuts are also deep-fried, shell and all.
Peanuts can be used like other legumes and grains to make a lactose-free milk-like beverage, peanut milk. Peanut plant tops are used for hay.
Low-grade or culled peanuts not suitable for the edible market are used in the production of peanut oil for manufacturing. The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is used as an animal feed and as a soil fertiliser. Low-grade peanuts are also widely sold as a garden bird feed.
Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion is used in the manufacture of some textile fibres. Peanut shells are used in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, fuel, cellulose (used in rayon and paper) and mucilage (glue). Rudolf Diesel ran some of the first engines that bear his name on peanut oil and it is still seen as a potentially useful fuel.