Peanuts are also called groundnuts or legumes. They are highly nutritious and they are especially beneficial for your heart. And guess what they are also inexpensive. So where do peanuts come from?
Peanuts were cultivated first in South America around 7500 years ago. Travelers then spread them from South America to Mexico and then to China, the USA, Africa, etc. Let us learn how peanuts are grown and their varieties, and much more.
Do Peanuts Grow on Trees?
No, they don’t grow on trees. They are legumes similar to beans and peas – all of them which belong to the Fabaceae family. The peanut plant is actually a small bush.
The hard shell that surrounds the peanuts is a modified pea pod. The plant is planted usually in the late spring season.
Some peanut varieties may reach a height of 5 feet but mostly they have a height of 12 to 18 inches.
Peanut Planting, Growing, and Harvest Tips
Growing peanuts is not as difficult as it may seem. The peanut farmers start sowing raw, fresh, and uncooked peanuts in the late spring season.
Sow them two inches deep and eight inches apart from each other. They have a pretty long growing season from 100-130 days (frost-free).
Keep in mind to use properly drained soil. Plant them where they can get a lot of sunlight.
You may be surprised to learn that peanuts crop doesn’t need fertilizers to grow as they are nitrogen-fixing plants.
This means that the roots of peanut crops have modules that absorb nitrogen from the air and enrich the plant and the soil too!
So, if your garden is lacking in nitrogen then you can plant peanuts in your garden.
It is wise to choose an early-growing variety like the Early Spanish peanuts type (if you are living in the North) so that they can grow quickly.
When the plant is six inches long loosen the soil so that the stalks called pegs can easily enter the ground.
Soon, yellow flowers develop and fade away. The ovaries then swell, grow, and droop toward the ground.
You can dig and check for the growth of peanuts in the first week of September. You can start harvesting peanuts before frost sets in.
Top Peanut (Groundnut) Producing Countries
China and India are the top first and second peanut producers respectively.
China alone accounts for 37% of the total peanut production in the world.
Other countries that produce peanuts are Nigeria, Argentina, the USA, Sudan, Myanmar, Chad, etc.
Top importers of peanuts are European Union, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Germany, Russia, Mexico, etc.
Peanut Varieties to Grow
Broadly speaking, there are four types of peanuts. They are briefly described below:
- Runner Peanuts – The peanuts are medium-sized and uniform. They harvest in 130 to 150 days. They are excellent to make roasted peanuts because of their uniformity.
- Virginia Peanuts – They have the largest peanut size. They also harvest in 130 to 150 days and can grow to a height of 24 inches. This type is also most suited for roasting.
- Spanish Peanuts – The plants produce small and round peanuts. They are ready to reap within 120 days. They are used for peanut oil production, snacks, peanut butter, etc. because of their high oil content.
- Valencia Peanuts – The peanuts have bright red skin. The plant grows to a height of 50 inches. The plant harvests in 95 to 100 days. They are used in cocktails and confections.
Are Peanuts Nuts?
No peanuts are not nuts, but they are legumes. Many nuts are not nuts at all like walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, etc. and they are actually drupes (a type of fleshy fruit).
Some other examples of drupes are coconut, cashew nuts, cherries, pistachios, etc.
Where Do Peanuts Originate From?
As mentioned earlier, peanut crops are considered to be originated in South America.
The peanut seeds then spread to the New World when Spanish explorers discovered peanuts.
Spanish explorers took them to Europe and then peanuts made their way to Asia and Africa through traders.
The last continent where peanuts arrived was North America. They were not grown in the 17th and 18th centuries extensively as it was considered the food of the poor.
By the end of the 19th century, production, shelling, etc. of peanuts has grown extensively.
What Are the Ways to Eat Peanuts?
You can eat them in multiple ways like raw peanuts or boiled peanuts. Shelled peanuts are usually consumed by boiling them in saline water so that they get some flavor.
You can eat peanuts without shells in various ways like roasting, frying, as toppings in cakes, cookies, desserts, etc.
You can even get them in varied flavors like sugar. One of the most famous ways to eat peanuts is peanut butter.
There are other amazing dishes in different cuisines that include peanuts like West African peanut soup, sesame peanut bars, etc.
Don’t shy away from trying different varieties of cuisines because you never know you may fall in love with that dish!