Page 26 - ALG Issue 1 2022
P. 26

Grow your own peanut butter!
Peanuts or Arachis hypogaea are actually a nitrogen fixing legume that can, surprisingly, be grown in the UK; they can be outside in warmer areas, but they do need warmth and a 16 to 20 week growing season, so grow under cover in dark coloured pots in cooler areas. A hypogea is an underground crypt and the name refers to the
plant’s habit of ripening its seed pods underground and hence it is also known as groundnut.
The crop is believed to have originated in the South American Andes – the Incas were peanut farmers and the people who lived at Ancon on the coast of Peru from 500 to 750BC buried their dead with peanuts so they wouldn’t become hungry in the afterlife! Portuguese and Spanish sailors travelling from the New World carried peanuts to Africa, as they were nutritious and easy to store on board ships. They were also introduced into East Asia from where they made their way into China in the 1600s. Peanut butter was invented in America in the late 1800s. In 1947, as a response to
a shortage of edible oils, the British Government instigated the disastrous Groundnut Scheme. 3.2 million acres of land in Tanzania was earmarked to grow peanuts for oil (to make margarine), animal foodstuffs and fibre for clothing. Unfortunately, the environment and
rainfall were unsuitable, and the project folded after 3 years.
Peanuts like to be planted in full sun,
in a light, sandy soil – once a peanut flower has been pollinated it develops into a peg and grows down and into
the soil where the peanut develops. Plant peanuts in May at a distance of 30–50cm either directly into the soil if it is warm enough, or in a large pot, where they will need periodic feeding and regular watering. The plant will produce yellow pea-like flowers on fleshy stems after about six weeks. Once these have been pollinated and grown down into the soil, nuts will begin to develop under
Peanuts like to be planted in full sun, in a light, sandy soil
the plant. The plants can be harvested from around mid-September when the foliage starts to die off and turn black. Pull them up before the first frost and put them somewhere to dry for a few days then knock the pods from the stems.
Store the nuts in their shells in a cool, moisture-free environment or
a refrigerator in a sealable bag, they can also be frozen for up to a year. As with all nuts, if not stored properly, peanuts can develop toxins; dispose of any mouldy-looking, discoloured or shrivelled specimens.
        Home-made and homegrown peanut butter 400g blanched peanuts
2 tsp sea salt flakes
2-3 tsp peanut oil
Roast your shelled peanuts in a single layer on
a baking sheet in a 200C/180C fan/gas 6 oven. Cooking time depends on the moisture in the nuts, but they are usually ready in 13 to 18 minutes.
Stir now and then to ensure they don’t catch at
the edges. When golden brown, remove from the oven and leave to cool. Put the nuts into a food processor, and add the salt. Blend until you’re left with a smooth nut butter. You may need to stop every now and again to rest the motor. If you want to loosen the consistency, add a drizzle of oil and blend again.
  26 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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