Yes, we can and we do grow peanuts in the Hudson Valley. The trick is to select the peanut variety with the fewest days to maturity and start the seeds indoors. Here at Locust Grove, we grow ‘Virginia Jumbo’. This variety requires 4 months of frost free weather. We start the seeds in the greenhouse early April, and plant in the garden first week of June.
Peanuts, Arachis hypogaea, are part of the pea family. But unlike peas where the flowers and peas are above ground, the peanut flowers are borne above ground, after pollination, they lose their petals and form a small stem (called a “peg”). The peg grows down into the soil. The peanut begins to form at the tip of the peg and gradually grows, under ground, into the familiar peanut form. Peanuts are also know as ground nuts and monkey nuts.
This peanut boil took place in the Heritage Vegetable Garden at Locust Grove where I am a volunteer (if you are looking for a fun place to volunteer, this is the place). Those present were surprised at how different the taste and texture of boiled peanuts are compared to roasted peanuts.
Boiled peanuts have a pleasantly sweet taste and a soft texture (the less mature peanuts have a creamy texture). If you never tasted boiled peanuts before, do try, you will really, really like them. They are a healthy and delicious snack, hot or cold.
Raw peanuts for boiling are available at Asian markets.
This is what we did at Locust Grove:
1. Using a garden fork, dug up peanut plants.
2. Pulled peanuts off plants and washed away all dirt.
3. Placed cleaned unshelled peanuts in pot, add water to cover and some salt. Brought to a boil, covered and simmered for one hour. Drained and enjoyed.