Food & Drink

How to Boil Peanuts

The Southern roadside staple

Photo: Johnny Autry

“What’s so beautiful about boiling peanuts is that anyone can do it,” says Matt Lee, who, with his brother, Ted, has supplied the roadside staple through their Lee Bros. Boiled Peanuts Catalogue since 1994. “It’s as simple as putting the right peanuts in boiling water for a long time.”

“You can use fresh green peanuts or dried peanuts. Eight out of ten times, people use dried, often of the Valencia variety, which is sweeter than the fresh Virginia peanut. And dried peanuts are available year-round. The Virginia peanut, which you can find in the late summer and fall, is softer and more delicate. A little grassier.”

“For salty South Carolina–style peanuts, the water should have about the salinity of seawater. In fact, we tried using seawater this past summer, and it works like heck. Start with one cup of salt per two gallons of water, and correct to taste as you boil.”

“How long you boil depends on the peanuts—whether they’re thick, thin, wet, dry. Typically, green peanuts are ready in two to three hours, and dried peanuts in six to eight, but you should sample frequently while boiling and take them out when you feel like they’re ready.”