They have been around quite a long time and have become so common, people hardly notice their presence. They occur as plain salted, sprinkled with spices and coated with a tinge of lemon or as small pieces in odd shapes, deftly concealed under layers of yummy, crunchy chocolate, their taste easily identifiable. According to records, peanuts have been a very tasty part in mankind and have evolved along with them, although not in terms of appearance, but on the basis of usage. They can be used plain salted as an excellent snack, spiced for use as a good substitute for popcorn, or roasted to perfect conditions to make a masterpiece among chocolates. Peanuts have not changed through history, but their ways of eating have transformed a lot.
History of peanuts
Peanuts have been believed to have first grown in the Brazilian forests. Finds have proved the existence of these nuts in the form of pottery-paintings. Even during those days, the appearance of these nuts hasn’t changed much and even today, they grow under the ground as tubular plants. They have been found to be rich in fats and proteins, which were both essential for general body metabolism and development. Their conditions for cultivating and their simplicity to cook them made them immensely popular and a huge success throughout the world. The wildest types of peanuts are still exported in large numbers even today from the countries of Bolivia, Paraguay and Brazil and hence, these places have been thought to be the birthplace of peanuts. Their history can be traced back to the Peruvian civilizations, where they were an important offering to the gods during ceremonies, rituals and sacrifices. Even the Egyptians were found to give importance to this nut, by burying them along with their dead. They thought that these foods often helped the dead in their afterlife. From the civilization of Peru, it slowly spread to Spain, and to other parts of Central America. However, the mass migration of peanuts worldwide was because of the European civilization, which contributed greatly to the popularity of these nuts. The Europeans first discovered peanuts in Brazil. The Portugal brought it to their homeland and later passed it on to the Philippines and West Africa. Thus, peanuts slowly found their way into every nook and cranny of almost everyone in the world. However, it was not after the 1930’s that people switched the use of peanuts from cattle feed to human food. During the voyages of the African slaves to America, peanuts served as a staple food.
India produces about 6.23 million metric tonne of peanuts every year and is one of the largest producer and exporter.
They are also known as groundnuts .One of the best advantages of peanuts which make them so easy to grow is their nature to grow best by the use of the “crop-rotation” technique. In this technique, after the cultivation and harvest of particular plants are done and the soil, almost exhausted off its nutrients, another plant is grown, which, in addition to making use of the remaining nutrients, also replenishes the soil of the lost nitrates. Groundnuts, belonging to the tubular-type plants that grow underground, act as a good source of nitrate replenishing agent. Also, their rough, outer shells prevents them from most attacks by moisture and bacteria and hence were found to be the best sources of food for the armies and during long travels. As time passed, the combination of peanut and butter in a semi-solid or gel type proved to be a tasty idea and immediately struck a chord with the people. Thus, was born, one of the most famous foods ever made by man- the peanut butter jelly.
In the 19th century, it was discovered that peanuts could protect decaying teeth and a physician in St.louis, made a paste of peanut, with a tinge of butter and fed to the people with bad teeth. Soon, this idea spread to all parts of the world like a wildfire and serial and confectionary companies realized this to be their window to the larger market. They adopted the basic idea and made changes of their own to it. While some added more butter to make it taste delicious, others churned it to give it a smoother, richer texture and feel, while the rest, roasted it to the perfect temperature to give the jam, a crunchy taste. One of the most common uses of peanuts is in the manufacture of peanut oil. This is found to have a relatively higher smoke point and a milder flavor. Also, it is healthier than saturated fats as it is monosaturated. Their shelf life is longer and they are resistant to rancidity. Peanut oil is very common in the Indian sub-continent, as Indian foods have been found to use oil more than any other country in the world.
In addition to using peanuts as oil, they are ground to a fine powdery state to give, peanut flour. It has been found to have high protein content and is used as a flavor enhancer in many dishes. Also, peanut flour is gluten-free and low in fat content and hence, a perfect choice of flour for the diet consciousness. Dry roasted peanuts are very famous in the American sub-continent where they are produced in large numbers and packed in hermetically sealed pouches and sold in thousands daily. These make the perfect snack while watching a movie or a game with friends and family. Peanuts are otherwise steamed or boiled in pressure cookers making them an ideal snack during cold or rainy seasons. This type of dish is very common especially in the southern parts of India.
In countries like Israel, peanuts are mixed with sesame oil, lecithin, and are roasted to perfection. They are then coated with a layer of salt or sugar and sold in the markets as snacks.
Nuts about them!!!
The market and trade of peanuts throughout the world have become easier and faster. As a result of this, it has reached people in almost all niches of life more than any other food has. Naturally, there are many ways that one can eat it. It has been found that there are over 300 ways or 300 recipes that one can make using peanuts.
Although it is a very popular and easily affordable snack, there are some who are highly allergic to it. This symptom is most commonly found in the American continent. One of the reasons for his allergy is because of the lack of sufficient digestive juices to break down and digest the nut. They have been found to take a longer time to digest and the taste lingers long after consumption. One of the most important benefits of groundnuts, though, is their ability to act as natural anti-oxidants, keeping the heart healthy. Truly, peanuts indeed occupy the top positions when it comes to snacks. Now that is what’s called, groundnut superiority.