Grow your own peanuts
Peanuts are an excellent nitrogen-fixing plant so will actually improve the fertility of your soil as they grow in it. They also require much less water to grow than other nuts. If you live in a warm climate, you could have a crack at growing them yourself.
They need about 120 days of sun to grow, so don’t plant them until the risk of frost has completely gone in spring. You can try using pretty much any unblanched, unroasted, unsalted raw peanut that still has its skin intact.
These peanuts should be planted 5 centimetres deep into loose and well-watered soil and about 10 centimetres apart. Peanuts are selfpollinators, so it doesn’t matter if you only get one plant.
After about 10 days, you should see small seedlings bursting out of the soil. It’s important to water your plants regularly, especially in hot weather. The peanut plants will grow to be about 40 centimetres tall. As they get taller, it’s worth mounding a bit more soil up around their bases as this will encourage them to grow.
After five or six weeks, you should start to see yellow flowers bursting into bloom. When the plants lose their flowers, the peanuts begin to develop in the form of what’s known as a peg. Unlike their relatives peas and beans, peanuts grow under the ground. The peg develops above the ground and then grows down
into the soil.
From this peg the peanuts grow, with each plant producing up to about 40 peanut pods. You’ll know your peanuts are ready when the plant starts to turn yellow and die. This is usually four or five months after planting.
To harvest the peanuts, wait for a sunny day then dig up the whole plant and shake off any loose soil. Peanuts contain up to 50 per cent moisture when they’re first dug up, so hang the plants upside down in the sun to dry for a couple of days. Ideally, this should get the moisture level down to about 10 per cent.
Once the plants are dry, remove the pods from the roots and store them in airtight jars until you’re ready to use them. The remaining plant material makes great mulch or can be added to your compost.
How to make your own peanut butter
- Roast peanuts until they are a caramel brown colour on the inside.
- Spread the roasted nuts out on a tray and let them cool. You can use a hair dryer
on cold to speed this up.
- Put the cooled nuts in a blender until you have the desired consistency of peanut butter. If the mixture goes powdery, add a little oil.
- Add salt to taste.
- Don’t buy pre-roasted peanuts as you won’t get the right flavour. Instead buy the freshest raw or blanched nuts you can get.
- Skin on or off is fine as the skins will come off the nuts as you roast them.
- You could risk blowing up your blender, so if you smell burning plastic while blending the peanut butter, turn it off and let it cool down for a bit. Trust me, I’ve been there!