Saturday, March 18, 2017

March is National Peanut Month

March is National Peanut Month. Peanuts play an important role in The Virginia Marketplace all year long since Virginia is known for its unique extra-large Virginia peanuts and the way they are cooked making them unbelievable crisp and absolutely delicious. Peanuts have an interesting history. The peanut plant is not native to this country. It probably originated in Brazil or Peru. Archaeologists have discovered South American pottery shaped like peanuts. They have also uncovered jars decorated with peanuts that are 3,500 years old.
Incas in Peru used peanuts as sacrificial offerings and even entombed them with their mummies. Brazilian tribes ground them with corn to make a beverage.
European explorers discovered peanuts in Brazil, and they took them back to Europe. In the mid-1500s, Spanish and Portuguese colonists introduced peanuts to Africa, where they were called groundnuts. After their introduction, variations of groundnut stew began appearing throughout West Africa.
George Washington and Thomas Jefferson referred to peanuts in the 1790s. Jefferson contributed to the peanut’s increased popularity when he became the first American president to grow them.
It is assumed the slave diet in 18th-century America included peanut soup and stews styled after groundnut stews in Africa. There are records of slaves making peanut soup during that period.
It is said Confederate soldiers introduced Union counterparts to peanuts and peanut soup, which were a good source of protein. Peanut popularity surged after the Civil War. By the mid-1800s several recipes for peanut soup appeared in newspapers and cookbooks. Peanuts became an important part of the American diet.
Peanuts and peanut butter were an integral part of the rations given to soldiers during World Wars I and II. Soldiers during WWII are credited for popularizing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, which provided sustenance during maneuvers.
Contrary to popular opinion, George Washington Carver did not invent peanut butter. The earliest reference to peanut butter has been traced to the Incas and Aztecs who ground peanuts into a paste.
At least three inventors are credited with modern peanut butter. Marcellus Gilmor Edson patented peanut paste in 1884.
In 1895, John Harvey Kellogg (creator of Kellogg’s cereal) patented the process of creating peanut butter from raw peanuts. He marketed peanut butter as a nutritious protein substitute for people who could not chew solid food.
In 1903, Ambrose Straub patented a peanut butter-making machine. Peanut butter was introduced at the St. Louis World’s Fair a year later.
At about the same time, peanuts were emerging as a significant agricultural crop in Southern states, since the boll weevil was threatening cotton crops.
George Washington Carver encouraged African-American farmers in the South to grow peanuts instead of cotton. He knew certain plants, such as peanuts, put nutrients back into the soil that had been depleted by cotton plants. By growing peanuts, farmers could restore the soil and provide food for their animals and families.
Soon the farmers had more peanuts than they could consume, so Carver started to invent ways to use peanuts. He discovered more than 300 uses for peanuts like peanut milk, peanut soap, shaving cream and glue. His innovations increased the popularity of peanuts.
In 1941, the National Peanut Council published Carver’s collection of peanut soup recipes. It was the largest collection of peanut soup recipes at that time and included directions for making peanut bisque, peanut consomme and peanut puree.
Peanuts and peanut soup became popular in American homes when peanuts and peanut butter became readily available in grocery stores in the early 20th century.

Try some delicious, extra large, crispy Virginia Peanuts!!