When is a Nut not a Nut?

People often think a peanut is a nut. However it is botanically classified as a legume. Peanuts contain properties of both the bean/lentil and tree nuts.
Peanuts have been around for a while, as early as 848 B.C. It is believed that they originated in Brazil or Peru and were carried to Africa by early explores and missionaries. From there traders took them to Spain and the “New World.” Colonial traders used the peanut as food aboard ship as they were cheap and of high food value. The first commercial peanut crop in Virginia was grown in Sussex County in the early to mid 1840’s.
For a long time peanuts were considered simple fare. The War between the states helped change the peanut status when the Union Army soldiers found them to their liking and took them home. The call, “Hot Roasted Peanuts,” was first heard in the late 1800’s at P.T. Barnum’s circus. Desire for peanuts spread as circus wagons traveled across the country.
The peanut was not a significant agricultural crop until the early 1900’s when the boil weevil destroyed the South’s cotton crop. Following the suggestion of noted scientist Dr. George Washington Carver, peanuts replaced cotton’s position in the South as a money crop. Today, U.S. Farmers produce around 1.9 million tons of peanuts annually on approximately 1.44 million acres and are a multimillion dollar industry in Virginia and an important crop in Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Florida, Oklahoma, Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, and South Carolina.
The four types of peanuts produced in the U.S. are:
1. The most common variety, the Runner type used primarily for the manufacture of peanut butter;
2. The large kernelled Virginia type, marketed mainly as snack peanuts and in the shell peanut products;
3. The Spanish type, with rounder and smaller kernels, used for snack peanuts, peanut butter and confections;
4. The longer podded Valencia type, containing three to five kernels in each shell, marketed mostly in the shell for roasting and boiling.
This information was provided by the Virginia Peanut Growers Association. I want to also thank them for believing and supporting the VALOR program.
If you would like to keep up with Peanuts, shop and etc you can visit http://www.aboutpeanuts.com
Come back and see some wonderful peanut recipes on my next Blog post.

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