If you’re driving through the Southern United States, you might see roadside vendors leaning over large metal drums cooking atop fire pits. They’re boiling green peanuts (not green in color, just freshly harvested).
Outside the Deep South, you won’t run into these snacks. Fresh peanuts grow best around this region, and have an extremely short shelf life after they’ve been boiled. But Southerners love the treats so much, they throw a festival revolving around them. (And yes, there is a children’s pageant, where contestants can vie for the titles of Lil’ Miss Peanut, Lil’ Mr. Goober, and Lil’ Baby Goober.)
To prepare these iconic legumes, vendors bubble local peanuts in brine for hours, which softens both shell and the meat inside. Snackers buy the treat by the bag, then pop each creamy, salty peanut from its casing by peeling away the saturated shell or by biting directly into it. The process is similar to eating edamame.
The culinarily adventurous can opt for spicy, cajun-flavored boiled peanuts. Southerners often pair the salty, savory roadside snack with beer, cola, or a glass of sweet tea.
Need to Know
Boiled peanuts are typically available from May to November.
Where to Try It
This South Carolina stand serves traditional and Cajun-spiced boiled peanuts.
Crenshaw County Shriners Club World's Largest Peanut Boil Website1704 Montgomery Hwy, Luverne, Alabama, 36049, United States
Hailed as the world's largest peanut boil, the event takes place in the wiregrass of Alabama, not far from Tuskegee University, the historically black institution where George Washington Carver discovered so many uses of the legume. The peanut boil takes place every Labor Day weekend.