Often associated with baseball games, circus elephants, and a popular school lunch consisting of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; peanuts play a vital role in American culture and its economy.
Peanuts, also known as earthnuts, goobers, goober peas, and jack nuts; are grown in many Southern states. While ‘nut’ is in their name, peanuts are actually legumes. Peanuts, similar to beans and peas, are seeds gown in enclosed in pods. Peanuts are usually planted in April or May and actually start out as an above ground flower that, due to its heavy weight, bends towards the ground. This flower eventually burrows underground, which is where the peanut pod grows and matures.
When purchasing peanuts in the shell, they should feel heavy and be free from dark spots and damage. Fresh peanuts should not smell rancid or musty and should not rattle around in the shell, a sign the kernels have dried out. Peanuts in their shell should be stored in a cool, dry place and will keep for approximately nine months. However, due to their high oil content and sensitivity to heat and humidity, shelled peanuts should be kept in a tightly sealed container in the freezer or refrigerator.