The Virginia peanut is the most sought after peanut in the world for being a large, crunchy, flavorful, highly nutritious snack with a distinctively unique taste. They have been grown in southeastern Virginia since the 1860’s.
The largest of all peanuts, the Virginia peanut is also known as the “ballpark” peanut and is often used in gourmet snacks. Virginia peanuts account for about 15 percent of total U. S. production and are grown mainly in southeastern Virginia, northeastern North Carolina, South Carolina and west Texas. Virginia’s popular peanuts are used for all-natural peanut butter.
What is a Peanut?
Although many people think of peanuts as nuts that grow on trees, they are actually “legumes” like peas. Legumes are edible seeds enclosed in pods. As a group, they provide the best source of concentrated protein in the plant kingdom. While their physical structure and nutritional benefits more closely resemble that of other legumes, their use in diets and cuisines more closely resembles that of nuts.
A “seed plant” is planted in May to form a small green plant about 18″ tall. The peanut plant produces yellow flowers, which pollinate themselves. They form “pegs” which begin to grown away from the plant. The pegs form a stem and push into the ground where the peanuts will form and grow. Peanuts are harvested between September and October which allows them four to five months to fully mature. The weather conditions during this time (i.e., too much rain or too little rain) have an impact on the quality of the crop. One peanut plant produces 40 peanuts. The peanuts are then dug out of the ground and left in the sun to dry for two or three days. A combine is used to separate the peanuts from the vines. The peanut farmer sells the peanuts to shellers who clean and grade the raw nuts before selling them to companies. (Source: nationalpeanutboard.org)
What Makes Virginia Peanuts Special?
All Virginia-type peanuts are known for their large size and crunchy texture and have been referred to as “the peanut of the gourmet.” Virginia peanuts have the largest kernels and are popular for roasting-in-the-shell. Virginia peanuts are most often grown in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.
Peanuts are whole foods that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, ample protein and beneficial unsaturated fats. Since they are a plant food, they naturally contain no cholesterol.