Baseball season is in full swing and with it comes one of my favorite aspects of the game–roasted peanuts! I thoroughly enjoy sitting in the Ballpark in Arlington watching the Rangers throw down on the Yankees, but what is any baseball game without this major league snack?
The Lone Star State is the second largest peanut producer in the nation, behind Georgia. Last year, Texas peanut farmers produced enough peanuts to make 533 million jars of peanut butter.
Salted, fire roasted, made into a patty, smashed into butter, inside chocolate, in a cookie, in a Coke or between two slices of bread and mixed with grape jelly, peanuts are an American food staple and popular around the globe.
Neither college students nor four-year-olds balk at peanut butter. According to the National Peanut Board, the average child will eat 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before he/she graduates high school.
This year, however, America’s peanut growers have struck out when it comes to rain and luck. The small supply and low crop yield are forcing some companies like J.M. Smucker Co., makers of Jif peanut butter, to suspend production of select products.
Let’s think on this a minute. What would be missing if there were no peanuts? George Washington Carver–agriculturalist, inventor and one of the earliest “foodies”–found more than 300 uses for the legume. We still use many today.
Shells are used in wallboards, fireplace logs, livestock feed and kitty litter. Peanuts themselves are often used as an ingredient in other products such as detergent, salves, metal polish, bleach, ink, axle grease, shaving cream, face creams, soap, linoleum, rubber, cosmetics, paint, shampoo, medicines and, most interesting, explosives. Add to the list, payment for an elephant’s hard day’s work. And Reese’s and M&M’s aside, four of the top 10 candy bars manufactured in the U.S. contain peanuts.
When it comes to cooking, I tend to favor peanut oil. It seems cleaner, lighter and allows the taste of what you are frying to come through rather than the taste of the oil. Some restaurants, like Five Guys Burgers and Fries, have also made the switch. They cook their fresh-cut potatoes in peanut oil, cutting cholesterol and adding flavor.
Peanut growers may be behind in the count this year, but you can bet we will still find safe and affordable peanut products courtesy of hard working farm families across the country.
Here at Texas Farm Bureau we love peanuts, but I’d like to hear about your favorite peanut product or best goober story.