Saturday, June 12, 2010

Boiled Peanuts in the Civil War

The peanut was known in Peru around 1200 to 1500 B.C. Well preserved peanut plants have been found in Inca mummy bundles and burial sites.

Before the Civil War (1861-1865), peanuts were called groundnuts, goober peas, Monkey nuts, Pindars and goobers. The names "pindars" and "goober" are African tribal words.

The peanut is really a legume like a pea. Dealers of other edible nuts thought the peanuts only fit for the poor.

Union General William T. Sherman led his troops on their march through Georgia in 1865. The Confederacy was split in two and deprived of supplies.

Confederate soldiers roasted and boiled the freshly pulled (raw-green) peanuts over campfires. The peanuts were also used as a cheap form of coffee. No one knows who came up with the idea of adding salt, but it has been used as a preservative since ancient times.

After Appomattox (April 1865), soldiers returning home brought back peanuts to places where they were unknown. Within the next five years, peanut production increased by two hundred percent.