In 1916, the American south was in the midst of the boll weevil crisis. The small beetle came from Mexico and was “just a-lookin’ for a home”. It was wreaking havoc on the cotton crops, which was the primary industry in much of the southern US at the time.
That year, George Washington Carver was a professor in the Department of Agriculture at the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. Looking for an alternative crop, his research led to publishing his paper “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption.”
It was, essentially, a recipe book. It begins with Peanut Soup and ends up with the now classic Salted Peanuts. Along the way, however, you find many surprises.
Peanut Doughnuts (two variations), Peanut Pudding, Peanut Sausage, Peanut and Cheese Roast, Peanut Ice Cream, Peanut Divinity Fudge (yes, please!), Peanut Carrot Fudge (sounds less divine), and even Peanut Coffee… which he suggests mixing with regular ground coffee for the “more or less habitual coffee drinkers”.
Number 51 is to much-loved Peanut Butter. I already wrote about the process of making peanut butter in a previous article.
Through this book and his further research, Dr. Carver more or less single-handedly created the American peanut industry (a $4 billion dollar business) and saved the south from the dying cotton crops. In meticulous scientific fashion, he examined all aspects of the peanut from the oil to the resins contained within and discovered more than 300 uses for the peanut. Not just recipes, but industrial applications like shaving cream, glue, and axle grease.
Fortunately, with all these dandy recipes, the peanut is also one of the healthiest nuts, with the highest protein content. So go out there and eat some peanut butter!
- Source: Peanut Fun Facts – National Peanut Board
- Read the report: “How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it For Human Consumption.” – Tuskegee Institute