Today, we unearth a plant native to South America. An annual legume used commercially all over the world. Legumes are unique in that they bear fruit inside a pod. This specific legume can be found extensively in most tropical and subtropical areas.
The name of the plant is also a well known comic book series, starring Charlie Brown and Snoopy. I may have given it away with that clue.
Care to take a guess?
Without further ado…
Lets discuss the peanut plant.
The name peanut is a bit misleading. It’s not actually related to a nut you find in a tree (almonds and walnuts). They’re connected to lentils, peas and beans due to the fruit growing in a pod. The peanut pods grow underground and the edible portion are actually the seeds of the plant. They develop in the soil where the roots grow.
The peanut is jam packed with nutrients. Rich in protein and healthy fat. It’s a great food source for those seeking weight loss or trying to reduce the risk of heart disease. Peanuts are low in carbohydrates, making them a great dietary choice for those suffering from diabetes.
It is good practice to eat the papery skin along with the nut. This thin coating contains phytochemical and antioxidants, both essential for a healthy lifestyle.
Peanut oil has a plethora of uses.
- Peanut oil is considered to be a vegetable oil. It’s used to sauté, fry, or to add flavoring to foods. For the most part, it has a mild or neutral flavor.
- Loaded with anti-inflammatories, peanut oil can benefit arthritis patients. It strengthens joints and reduces pain.
- Applied directly to skin, it helps cure conditions of dry skin or eczema.
- Diesel engines have run on a variety of fuels, including peanut oil. It’s not quite as effective as today’s fossil fuels, but it’s close.
Peanuts have an unquantifiable impact all over the world. The legume has become a fixture at baseball games and amusement parks. They are cheap and healthy, rendering them a fantastic snack.
Growing up, I remember going to Fenway Park. One of my favorite things was watching the peanut guy fling around bags of nuts. Just raise your hand, make eye contact with the vendor and get ready to catch an incoming bag of nuts. Launched from 15 rows back or two sections over, the peanut dudes love showing off their arms.
During the World Wars and Depression, meat was scarce. With peanuts being such a rich source of nutrients, it was made into a creamy spread. Initially developed as a protein source for people that could no longer chew meat. It caught on like wild fire, peanut butter was flying off the shelves and into cupboards all across America.
It’s fairly easy to grow your own peanut plant. First thing is to get a raw peanut. It must be raw and not roasted or boiled. Plant the seed with hull (soft, brown paper-like shell around the peanut) or without. Place it about an inch or two below the soil and keep your soil moist. It usually takes a week or so to germinate.
At this point, your plant should have sprung. It will be a few months before peanuts start to form in the soil. Once they do, dig up the plant and “cure” it. This is performed by hanging the plant and drying it out for about 1 week. After that, crack open the shells and bon appetit!
Peanuts are not consumed raw. Before being sold at market they are boiled or roasted. This makes them safe for human consumption. Peanut plants can also be found in feed for livestock, mostly in the form of hay.
Peanuts come with some health concerns. Mainly the issue is an allergic reaction. If you are allergic to nuts and have been exposed, reactions occur within minutes. Symptoms include:
- Redness or swelling.
- Itching and hives.
- Diarrhea, vomiting or stomach cramps
- In extreme cases, anaphylaxis can occur. A life-threatening allergic reaction. The throat swells, breathing becomes impaired and blood pressure drops. Seek immediate care.
As we enter the bottom of the 9th inning, it’s time for our fun facts.
Like avocados, peanuts are cholesterol-free. Great treat for people with high cholesterol.
Peanut butter was introduced in 1904 at the Worlds Fair in St. Louis. Most peanuts grown here in America are used to help mass produce peanut butter.
Being high in protein and calories, peanuts are playing a pivotal role in reducing famine in less developed countries in Africa.
Thank goodness for the peanut plant!
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My name is Michael Conley from Tewksbury MA. Married to my amazing wife, we have two kids and a dog named Milo. We rescued him from a shelter in Texas (Shout out to Straight Outta Texas). I am an enthusiast about the great outdoors, sport and wildlife. Fittingly graduated with a Bachelors degree in Sport,…
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