What crops is Georgia known for
On the way to the peanut harvest in Georgia | America
[Advertisement] I never dreamed that I would travel to America again this year. I just got back from Canada when an invitation from American Peanut Councils landed for a “peanut tour” to Georigia / America. In addition to the peanut harvest that was to be accompanied, a meeting with ex-President Jimmy Carter was waiting for me. You can imagine how excited I was and at first couldn't believe what great things would await me on the trip. Harvest in the peanut field, visit a peanut butter factory, trading points for all things peanut and of course authentic American food. It started in mid-September - my first trip to the United States. Of course, I was not traveling alone, but was allowed to go on a peanut exploration tour with a few German and international bloggers. You can find out what I discovered in today's post.
Plains - hometown of US President Jimmy Carter
When I read in my invitation that I would meet former US President Jimmy Carter on my trip, I was of course very happy. At the same time, however, the question arose what Jimmy Carter had to do with peanuts. So I quickly sat down at the computer and started the search engine. Jimmy Carter comes from a peanut farming family in Georgia. His father began growing peanuts as early as the early 1920s. After his death, Jimmy Carter left the US Navy and took care of the family business until his presidency. The peanut is still ubiquitous in his hometown of Plains. The small town with around 700 inhabitants not only offers a few scenes around its famous residents, but also still supports two peanut companies and celebrates the peanut harvest festival on the 4th of September weekend.
When we arrived in Plains, we received a very warm welcome from Jimmy Carter and everyone was really impressed with how fit the ex-president is at the age of 95. After breakfast together, he gave a little speech about the peanut and you can imagine how excited everyone was hanging on his lips. “Everyone who visits this place and makes the peanut and peanut butter better known is my friend,” he said at the end of his sympathetic speech. He still lives temporarily in the Plains, represents the American Peanut Council and preaches in the local church. After the meeting we drove a little through Plains and heard exciting stories about the place and the Carter family from his niece.
On behalf of science: peanuts under the microscope
Who would have thought that there would be an entire science laboratory for all things peanut plants. On the second day we visited that "National Peanut Research Laboratory" in Dawson. Short scientific lectures on peanut research were given to us at several stations. On the one hand it was about the peanut plant itself - with regard to water consumption, different plant species, pest control - on the other hand it was about storage and quality control. In a small outdoor area, we were able to marvel at the colorful flags marking cultivation areas and got an insight into simulation processes for further processing the nuts. Laboratory work for pest and disease control was also represented in the Research Lab. What was interesting for me on this visit was that a peanut plant only needs 18 liters of water to "produce" 28g of nuts. For 28g almonds you need 304 liters of water.
My favorite stop: off to the peanut field
Chase Farms in Oglethorpe was actually the highlight of the trip for me, because on the last day we could finally see the fresh peanuts harvested live. Everyone stood around the tractor like little children and was amazed when it finally started. The tractor started, picks the peanuts out of the ground, turns them around, and puts them back down. So the peanuts lie directly in the sun and can dry in the field for 2-3 days. I was so happy to finally hold a fresh peanut in my hand and of course I tried it straight away: Unroasted it tastes more like a pea.
In contrast to other nuts, the peanut does not grow on trees, but underground. This is because the peanut is not a nut at all, but a legume. The name “peanut” actually suggests: “pea” = pea, “nut” = nut. The peanut plant has small oval leaves and reaches a height of around 50cm. One might think that the peanut arises like a potato from the roots of the plant, but that is also wrong. After the peanut plant has flowered and lost its petals, the fertilized stem digs into the earth and the peanuts begin to grow on the stem. This is why the peanuts are quite close to the surface.
It takes about four to five months from planting to harvest. The main harvest time is in October and November. One peanut plant can produce more than 40 peanuts. Almost half of the peanut harvest is grown in the state of Georgia. So how do you know if the peanuts are ripe for harvest? To do this, a few peanuts are harvested and used with a high-pressure cleaner until the outer shell has loosened a little. What you can now see is the underlying layer of the shell, the color of which is clearly different from the light shell. The nuts are sorted on a table according to their maturity index - recognizable by the dark color of the shell. The more nuts that are quite dark brown in color, the closer the harvest date is.
Freshly harvested, the peanuts now have a humidity of 25-50% and stay in the field for 2-3 days so that they are dry in the sun. Then they are cut off from the plant and loaded onto large trailers.
What happens to the peanut after it is harvested?
The next darning for the peanut is what is called "Buying Point". Here the quality of the peanut is first checked. On the one hand, this is the size of the peanut, but also the amount of contamination - pebbles, plant stems, etc. In the next step, the peanuts must be dried further so that no mold forms. To do this, a fan is simply connected to the trailer on which the peanuts were loaded, which blows warm air into the wagon. This reduces the moisture of the nuts to 10%. This is also important with regard to the high fat content in the thin shell inside the nut. If the moisture is too high, the fat could quickly turn rancid.
The nuts are stored in large halls on a special conveyor belt that removes other impurities from the nuts with the help of vibrating plates and blowers. Some of them stay there for up to a year before they are processed further - a new peanut harvest begins immediately afterwards.
Did you know the peanut is actually a pea?
For the further processing of peanuts to produce oil or peanut butter, the peanuts have to be shelled. There are special ones here too "Peanut Shelling Points"who use large machines to remove the shell of the nuts. This happens through friction, but unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos here. After peeling, the nuts are sorted by size and filled for further processing. The outer, light-colored bowl is used as grit for animals. The peanut oil is extracted from the thin shell that is inside the peanut.
What would a trip to America be without peanut butter ?! That's why we of course also visited a peanut butter factory. Here we could see how the peanuts are roasted, ground and then combined with oil and sugar to make a “creamy” or “crunchy” peanut butter. What was interesting for me was the fact that the peanut's little heart is removed in production because it can make the peanut butter bitter. The brown, thin skin is also removed. Both are not waste, but are used for animal feed. In addition to the somewhat sweet peanut butter, there is also honey peanut butter and natural peanut butter that is neither prepared with oil nor with sugar. For me, by the way, a great peanut butter to cook with! We smell our way through all the varieties in the factory and nibble on the still warm peanut butter right after filling - simply delicious!
Some peanuts a day keep the doctor away
All in all, the trip to the peanut harvest was really great. Everything was well organized, I met a lot of nice people and fell in love with the little peanut a little more. A small highlight was the American “Low Country Boil” on the last evening - a typical event in Georgia and South Carolina. In large pots, shrimp are cooked outdoors in a broth, which is then served with sausages, potatoes and corn. For dessert there was of course peanut butter ice cream.
When I got home, I really wanted to try a delicious peanut recipe. From the peanut butter factory I had filled my suitcase with plenty of peanut butter and wanted to make something sweet with it. My Peanut blondies with peanut butter topping you will find soon in my second post about the tour. Quote from my family: "The best cake we have had in a long time". If that's not a wonderful compliment! Click over, because I'll also tell you something about the nutritional values of the peanut.
Finally, of course, I would like to talk to the American Peanut Council thank you for this wonderful trip. Many thanks also to Marina | Moinmojes, who looked after us wonderfully in advance and during the trip.
Also there were: Michaela | herzelieb, Steffi | Kochtrotz, Gabi | USA culinary, Tina | FOOD & co, Oliver | Living BBQ, Florian | elitpix, Sanne | Living the green life, Azmina | azminanutrition, Vicotia | bestrecipesUK, Elisabeth | Elizabeth’skitchen diary, Emily | a mummy too
Some of the pictures are also from elitepix, kochtrotz and USA culinary. [Advertisement] I was invited to this trip by the American Peanut Council.
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