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Why Boiled Peanuts Are the South's Best Kept Secret

- Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images
Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

This salty snack is a Southern classic.

In the summer, you can find them at roadside stands across the South. They call out from hand-painted signs proclaiming “Fresh Boiled Peanuts” (or sometimes just “P-Nuts,” depending on signage space). The stands and their signs—little squares of shade under the hot summer sun—lure hungry passersby to bags and bowls and cups and containers of salty boiled peanuts. It’d be a shame to just drive past.

A bag of boiled peanuts is briny. It’s pulled from a cooler, filled with salty shells—some hard, some soggy—surrounding tender peanuts within. Choose one from the bag, and crack it open with deft pressure of the back molars. Discard the shell, eat the meat. It’s just water, salt, and peanuts, and it tastes like summer in the South.

Sure, you could buy a can of boiled peanuts at the grocery store, but the good stuff comes from Grandma’s kitchen and seasonal stands down long rural roads. You can’t get the authentic ones just anywhere, which makes them something of a delicacy, and a rather well-kept secret. You can make them yourself, though, which is a good way to satisfy the boiled peanut craving you start to feel every year around the middle of July. You’ll get the taste you’re looking for by using raw green peanuts, which are harvested throughout the summer, from the beginning of June to the end of September.

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It’s undeniable: Boiled peanuts are a Southern classic. They also have a long history. They’ll forever be our favorite summer snack—and the reason we follow those roadside signs to homegrown stands to pick up a bag or two. To make your own, check out our primer on all things boiled peanuts. For a taste of something different and delicious, try this fan-favorite Boiled Peanut Hummus. Any way you crack them, they’re an unmissable Southern treat.

WATCH: Boiled Peanut Hummus

What’s your favorite way to eat boiled peanuts? Are they your favorite summer snack too?

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