The peanut, also known as the groundnut, goober (US), or monkey nut (UK), and taxonomically classified as Arachis hypogaea, is a legume crop grown mainly for its edible seeds. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both small and large commercial producers.
It is classified as both a grain legume and, due to its high oil content, an oil crop.
World annual production of shelled peanuts was 44 million tonnes in 2016, led by China with 38% of the world total. Atypically among legume crop plants, peanut pods develop underground (geocarpy) rather than above ground. With this characteristic in mind, the botanist Linnaeus named the species hypogaea, which means “under the earth”.
Whole peanuts Roasted peanuts as snack food
Dry-roasting peanuts is a common form of preparation.
Dry peanuts can be roasted in the shell or shelled in a home oven if spread out one layer deep in a pan and baked at a temperature of 350 °F or 177 °C for 15 to 20 min (shelled) and 20 to 25 min (in shell).
Boiled peanuts are a popular snack in the southern United States, as well as in India, China, and West Africa. In the US South, boiled peanuts are often prepared in briny water, and sold in street side stands.
A distinction can be drawn between raw and green peanuts. A green peanut is a term to describe farm fresh harvested peanuts that have not been dehydrated. They are available from grocery stores, food distributors and farmers markets, during the growing season. “Raw” peanuts are also uncooked but have been dried/dehydrated and must be rehydrated before boiling (usually in a bowl full of water overnight). Once rehydrated, the raw peanuts are ready to be boiled.
Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavor and a relatively high smoke point. Due to its high monounsaturated content, it is considered more healthful than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. The several types of peanut oil include: aromatic roasted peanut oil, refined peanut oil, extra virgin or cold-pressed peanut oil, and peanut extract. In the United States, refined peanut oil is exempt from allergen labeling laws.
Peanut butter is a food paste or spread made from ground dry roasted peanuts. It often contains additional ingredients that modify the taste or texture, such as salt, sweeteners or emulsifiers. Peanut butter is served as a spread on bread, toast or crackers, and used to make sandwiches (notably the peanut butter and jelly sandwich). It is also used in a number of confections, such as peanut-flavored granola bars or croissants and other pastries. The United States, is a leading exporter of peanut butter, and itself consumes $800 million of peanut butter annually.