I am ashamed to admit how long I had lived here in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia before I learned that I was really close to the "Peanut Capitol of the World". Being from New England, peanuts were not up there on my list of produce items to try to source locally. Happily, I now know better.
A year and a half ago, my friend Nancy and I had taken a road trip to go to our first "Heritage Harvest Festival" at Monticello. We came home 'the back way' from Charlottesville (aka Rte 460), stocking up on molasses at 'Adams Country Store' (more famous for its country hams and dandoodle sausages) and stopping at every Mom and Pop antique store we could find. At one of them, we asked where the locals go to buy their peanuts. In unison, two older gentlemen said "Wakefield Peanuts." And so Wakefield Peanuts it was!
My family couldn't get enough of the homemade peanut butter, sugared peanuts and homemade peanut brittle, so a few months later we took another day trip out that way to secure more molasses and peanuts. This past summer, I stocked up on several bags of peanuts at the farmer's market (did you know they keep quite well in the freezer?), but last week, horror of horrors, my supply ran dry.
It's been a busy few months for me and time is scarce. So another day trip out to Wakefield was out of the question. Luckily, the nice folks at Wakefield Peanuts are willing to ship, so a few days later I had FIFTY POUNDS of raw, shelled, skinned peanuts delivered right to my door (do yourself a favor and pay the extra $10 for the skinned ones. It's not a fun task and it takes forever to do yourself!) Shipping is included, so your cost will be the same as mine: $85. Have you priced peanuts lately? It's a deal. I repackaged them (5 lbs fits nicely into a gallon sized bag) and shared the cost with friends, and we are once again enjoying homemade peanut butter, which is shockingly easy to make if you've never tried it.
First, roast the raw, shelled, skinned peanuts at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 to 20 minutes, depending upon how dark you like them. Let them cool, and put them into a food processor (don't try to use a blender, you'll most likely kill the motor). Pulse/process for a few minutes. It may take awhile, but eventually it'll start to get more creamy. It the peanuts are really dry, you can add in some peanut oil, and if you'd like to add some salt or honey for taste, go right ahead. When it's smooth enough (or chunky enough) for your liking, you're done! Stored in the fridge, it lasts a long time (well, my kids tend to devour it in no time, but you know what I mean.) It doesn't seem to separate like the store-bought 'natural' kind, either, so that's a bonus in my book!
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