Peanuts are one of life's comfort foods - unless of course you have a nut allergy. Peanuts and peanut oil are also one of the integral ingredients in many Asian cuisines that give them their distinctive flavors.


Nutrition Notes

While the peanut is not a true nut - it is a legume - it is rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat. They are an economical source of protein and supply many vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, vitamin E, copper, selenium, magnesium and zinc. Peanuts also supply some dietary fibre. However they are relatively high in fat so remember that a serving of 2 tablespoons is about the size of your thumb.


Peanuts are sold oil-roasted, dry-roasted, blanched and boiled (boiled peanuts are very popular in peanut-growing regions - see The Lee Bros. website listed below). Peanuts are always sold partially defatted and are available salted and unsalted. Peanuts are roasted under pressure in safflower or sunflower oil. Interestingly, this process removes about 60% to 80% of the fat in the peanuts. One would think it would have the opposite effect!

Shelled peanuts are sold vacuum packed in cans, jars and in small, snack-size bags. Peanuts in the shell, roasted or unroasted, are sold in bags and sometimes in bulk in the grocery store. Many casual food establishments let you munch on peanuts, tossing the empty shells onto the floor. This custom probably originated in one of the peanut growing regions.

Four basic varieties of peanuts are produced in the American South and Southwest. Each type is distinctive in size and flavor.

Runner: Introduced in the 70s, these are now the most popular type. They are primarily used for peanut butter.

Virginia: These have the largest kernels and account for most of the peanuts roasted and eaten as in-shells. When shelled, the kernels are sold as salted peanuts.

Spanish: This type of peanut has smaller kernels covered with a reddish-brown skin. They are used mainly for peanut candy, although large quantities are also used for salted nuts and peanut butter. They have an oil content higher than the other types of peanuts, which is good when crushing for oil.

Valencia: These peanuts have three or more small kernels in each pod. They are very sweet and are usually roasted and sold in the shell. They are also excellent for fresh use as boiled peanuts.

Peanuts are also widely available as peanut butter and peanut oil. There are many types of peanut butter to choose from - regular, smooth, crunchy, light, natural, no sugar added and just peanuts.

Some people may prefer to buy their peanut butter from an organic or health food store so that they know they are getting just peanuts and no sugar or other additives. Remember though that if you purchase this type of peanut butter the oil will separate and you will have to stir it back in each time you use the product.


When buying packaged peanuts, look for a freshness or best before date on the jar, can or bag. If you can see the kernels (i.e. in a glass jar), they should be plump and uniform in size, not limp or squishy looking. They should not smell musty or rancid.

Choose in-shell peanuts that have undamaged shells free from cracks, scars or tiny wormholes. The nut should feel heavy, and the kernel should not rattle loudly if shaken. If it does the kernel inside may be withered and dry.


Because peanuts have a high fat content, they can become rancid if not stored properly. Exposure to heat, light and humidity will accelerate deterioration. Raw unshelled peanuts (vs. roasted shelled peanuts), however, keep very well if stored in a cool, dry place.

Shelled peanuts should be refrigerated once the vacuum-sealed package is opened. Jars should be closed tightly and refrigerated. Better still, transfer any leftovers (if there are any - peanuts are munchably addictive) to plastic bags or freezer containers. Shelled peanuts will keep for up to one year in the freezer. Be sure to wrap well or their texture and flavor will be affected by freezer burn.


Skin Removal: Skins can either be removed by freezing shelled peanuts for several hours or overnight - the skins will slip off easily with your fingers. Or shelled raw peanuts can be roasted in a 350ÌŠF (180ÌŠC) oven for 3 to 5 minutes; remove from oven and cool slightly. Then rub between fingers to remove skins.

Boiling: If you are interested in instructions on how to boil, freeze and can peanuts visit

Chopping: Chop peanuts using a chef's knife on a large cutting board. Spread the nuts on the board; hold down the tip of the knife blade with one hand and raise and lower the knife, moving it in a fanwise motion across the nuts. Or you can use a mechanical nut chopper (coffee grinder).

If you are using a food processor or blender to chop peanuts and do not want to make peanut butter then process a small amount at a time. Pulse the machine on and off. Overprocessing the nuts will release the oils and you will end up with peanut paste.

Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter (from the Virginia Carolina Peanuts website) The longer you blend or process, the softer the peanut butter will be. Homemade peanut butter should be stored in the refrigerator.

Directions for using a blender:

1 cup   roasted shelled peanuts (with or without red skins)
1 1/2 tsp   peanut oil
1/4 tsp   salt (omit if salted peanuts are used)

Place ingredients in blender. With the lid secured, blend until mixture becomes paste-like or spreadable (3 to 4 minutes). If necessary stop the machine and use a rubber spatula to scrape mixture from the sides of the container and back into contact with the blades. Continue blending until desired consistency is reached.

Note: For crunchy style peanut butter stir in 1/4 cup chopped roasted peanuts after you have finished blending. Makes 1/2 cup smooth or 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter.

Directions for using a food processor:

2 cups   roasted shelled peanuts (with or without red skins)
1/2 tsp   salt (omit if salted peanuts are used)


Using the metal blade, process ingredients continuously for 1 to 3 minutes. The ground peanuts will form a ball that will slowly disappear. Continue to process until the desired consistency is obtained. If necessary, stop machine and scrape sides of container with a rubber spatula.

Note: For crunchy style peanut butter, stir in 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts after you have finished processing. Makes 1 cup smooth or 1 1/2 cups crunchy peanut butter.

Roasting: Conventional Oven - place raw peanuts, in-shell or shelled, one layer deep in a shallow baking pan. Roast in a 350ÌŠF (180ÌŠC) oven 15 to 20 minutes for shelled and 20 to 25 minutes for in-shell peanuts. Peanuts continue to cook as they cool so watch carefully.

Microwave Oven Roasting - You will need: 1 cup raw shelled peanuts, cold water, 1/2 teaspoon salt. Pour peanuts into colander or wire basket and wet thoroughly. Sprinkle with salt. Pour into small microwave safe casserole or pie plate. For a light roast, microwave on HIGH for 2-1/2 minutes; stir, microwave 2-1/2 minutes longer. For a darker roast, stir and microwave 1 minute longer, in 30-second increments. Peanuts will be crisp when cool. Remember that cooking time will vary depending on the oven wattage.

Peanut Seasonings: Season roasted shelled peanuts as soon as they come out of the oven or the microwave. Try salt, popcorn salt, seasoned salt, onion salt or powder, garlic salt or powder, paprika, chili powder, curry powder, Cajun seasoning, jalapeno seasoning, seafood seasoning, cinnamon and Parmesan cheese.

Peanut equivalents (from the Virginia Carolina Peanuts website):

  • Approximately 1-1/2 pounds raw unshelled peanuts = 1 pound raw shelled = 3 1/4 cups
  • Approximately 6 ounces raw shelled peanuts = 1 cup
  • 12 ounces roasted shelled peanuts = 2 cup


Peanuts are great out of hand but are also an important ingredient in other dishes. How about peanut butter cookies, Dairy Queen's classic Peanut Buster Parfait, Pad Thai and many other Asian dishes, peanut sauce for satay, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches�

Healthy Ways to Enjoy Peanuts:


  • Toss a handful into your milkshake or smoothie.
  • Add peanuts or peanut butter to pancake and waffle batter for extra flavor.
  • Look for recipes for muffins and quickbreads that incorporate peanuts and/or peanut butter.
  • Peanut butter on a whole-wheat bagel is a good breakfast to go.
  • Go for the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Accompanied by baby carrots, celery sticks and low-fat milk and you've covered the four food groups.
  • Peanuts and pasta - Why not!
  • A small handful of roasted peanuts when you're flagging mid-afternoon gives you energy to get through the day.
  • Have an Asian inspired dinner party starting with chicken satay and peanut dipping sauce.
  • Try your hand at Pad Thai - delicious when sprinkled with chopped roasted peanuts.
  • Use chopped peanuts in stuffings for poultry and meat.
  • Main course salads are perfect for a peanut addition.
  • Fill celery sticks with a small amount of peanut butter for a quick kid-pleasing snack.
  • Add peanut butter to rice krispie and granola square recipes.
  • Roasted peanuts are a perfect addition to trail mixes.


More Information

Did you know?

  • Peanuts are also called groundnuts, earth nuts and in the South, goobers or goober peas.
  • One acre of peanuts will make 30,000 peanut butter sandwiches.

FYI: March is National Peanut Month.

For More Information: 

  • Totally Nuts by Helene Siegel, Celestial Arts Publishing Company, 1997.