Parched Peanuts

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“Parched goobers” is probably not a term you’re that familiar with. I’m not sure where the term originated, but supposedly, it’s an African name. Anyway, that’s what my dad called peanuts. We country folks didn’t call peanuts cooked in an oven roasted. We called them “parched.” I think roasted peanuts is a term that city folks use. Actually I didn’t hear the name “roasted” until I moved to the city, so I guess the term “parched” is original with us rural people.

Occasionally when my mother went to town, she bought hot, Spanish peanuts from the 5 and 10 Cents store, but my dad always bought raw peanuts. I’m not sure why. Perhaps they are cheaper, but anyway, here’s how it goes.

In the wintertime, Dad brought these raw peanuts home. Then, he got a rectangular pan and evenly spread the peanuts into it. Then, he placed the pan into the roaring, hot stove. And believe me, those old-fashioned, wood-burning stoves could get hotter than a fire cracker. The kitchen stove would be on full blast.

Then Dad went about his business, doing whatever else he had to do, but just like magical clockwork, he knew exactly when to take the peanuts out. When he did, they were perfect – not too raw and not too done. In other words, they were just right for eatin’. There’s nothing worse than biting a peanut that is underdone or one that’s a “crispy critter.” To Dad’s credit, though, he knew just how long to keep those little, gray nuts in the incubator before taking them out to cool.

So when the peanuts were thoroughly parched, we dug in, sat around a blazing fire, cracked the shells, and tossed the empty hulls toward the ash pan, near the mouth of the heater. Usually, the floor ended up with more shells than the pan, so clearing the floor of the empty shells was a part of the enjoyment of eating home-cooked nuts.

To me, any foods prepared at home are better than those bought from stores, and peanuts are no exception. To keep the memory of parched peanuts alive, sometime I grab a bag of raw peanuts, pull out the pan and do just as my dad did.

Since I never farmed or even had a garden, I don’t really know anything about either, but one year, I went with my dad to a neighbor’s patch to help him harvest his peanuts. And in case you don’t know it, peanuts grow under the ground the same as beet roots. When they are dug up, they are encased in dirt. Once you shake the dirt off real good, and wash the peanuts, then they are ready for parching, then gobbling.

Photo: Fotolia/alleks