Peanuts, or groundnuts, earth nuts,
goobers or goober peas, this nut is actually a type of legume. Two peanuts
(enclosed in a papery, dark brown, slightly bitter skin) grow in a thin,
waffle-veined hourglass-shaped pod buried in the ground.
It is one of the better known nuts in
the United States and is grown in the Southern States. More than half the
national crop is used to make peanut butter.
The two most popular varieties of
peanuts are Virginia and Spanish. The Virginia is oval shaped and larger than
the small, round Spanish peanut.
Peanuts are sold in a variety of
forms: with or without its shell, salted, unsalted, roasted, or dry roasted.
With its buttery flavor, they are wonderful as a snack or in cookies, muffins
and quick breads, and other desserts.
If buying fresh, look for unbroken
shells that do not rattle when shaken. The flavor of the peanut is enhanced
when roasted and roasted peanuts come in jars or cans either salted or
As with most other nuts, peanuts have
a high fat content and must be stored properly so they don't turn rancid. Store
in airtight containers or plastic bags in the refrigerator (3-6 months) or
freezer (one year).