Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Peanut Boil

Many of you have no doubt heard of, or even partaken of, the South's favorite snack...the boiled peanut.  If you got yours at a service station or out of a can, let me offer my apologies.  Don't judge all boiled peanuts by your bad experience.  Boiled peanuts are extremely easy to prepare properly, but so many mess it up.  If you'd like some fresh off the farm, with a little fun and fellowship thrown in, then maybe you should come to our peanut boil.  You can't come this year though, because we had it today.

Every year for as long as I can remember, we have had "The Peanut Boil."  That's what everyone calls it.  Its roots go way back, somewhere before I was born.  When I was a kid one of my cousins hosted it, but for the last 15 years or so it has been at my parent's house.  To the uninitiated, I am going to try to sum up what a peanut boil is by explaining how we go about hosting ours.

Our peanut boil is a community/church event.  My mom invites everyone she can think of and tells them to bring someone with them.  We have bluegrass gospel singing, kiddie train rides, inflatable slides, volleyball and cornhole tournaments, grilled hot dogs, and all the boiled peanuts you can eat.  In other words, it's just good, clean fun.  Guests begin arriving after lunch and stay as late as they want.  It's a time of swapping stories, telling tales, and playing tag with your friends.

Our day as hosts begins early.  Over the years as the number of attendees has grown, we've evolved from picking the peanuts off by hand to using our farm equipment.  First we dig the peanuts up with an inverter.

No, peanuts do not grow on trees.

Next, we run them through a combine, which separates the peanut from the vine.

Then we put the peanuts on a trailer, and wash them several times.  If there are rocks or stems still attached, we remove as many of them as possible.

After that we begin boiling the peanuts in a large kettle, using an outdoor gas burner.  We cook two 60 gallon cookings of peanuts.  Each cooking takes two hours.  By the time the first cooking is ready, a few guests have begun arriving, and the peanut consumption begins!  Around 6PM, the crowd really begins to grow.  The picking and grinning begins, and usually lasts late into the night.

The crowd has arrived!

To sum it all up, a peanut boil is just another excuse to have an old fashioned get-together.  It's a throwback to a simpler time, before cell phones and social media, when people had similar events on a regular basis.  Its purpose is just as great now as then, however.  It serves to bring a community closer together, to let kids be kids, to allow harried adults a little time to slow down and catch up with their friends.  I hope you get to attend a peanut boil, or a barn-raising, or a shivaree, or whatever they call it in your neck of the woods.  These events are a part of our heritage that we need to keep alive.

Have you attended one of our peanut boils?  What kind of similar events do you have in your area?  I'd love to have your comments!