With fall in the air, the late summer harvest is at its peak, meaning peanuts are in season and ready to be canned at McCall Farms. Peanut Patch will can more than 25.6 million pounds of peanuts in 2018, with approximately 90% of all peanuts coming from South Carolina farms. From early August until mid-October, Peanut Patch peanuts are harvested from 3,657 acres across four farms in the South Carolina region. The peanuts are harvested while still green have more moisture content than dried peanuts, meaning they are plump and moist. Once harvested the peanuts are quickly taken to the production facility located nearby for canning.
Boiled peanuts have become one of the fastest growing snacks and can be enjoyed year-round for any occasion. Peanuts have an extensive history, dating all the way back to 1500 B.C., the Incans from Peru used them as offerings and placed them in tombs of the entombed. The tribes of Brazil also used peanuts with corn (maize) to make a delicious, milky beverage.
It wasn’t until the early 1800’s that peanuts began to be grown commercially in the United States, and were first grown in Virginia. The initial purpose of the peanut was to produce oil, food, and serve as a cocoa substitute. At this time, they were not consumed by humans and were considered poor food and difficult to digest, thus making them suitable for livestock animals. After the Civil War, the peanut grew in popularity, since soldiers found them and like to use them for subsistence and took what wasn’t used home to their families. During the early 1900’s, equipment was invented to assist in planting, cultivating, and harvesting peanuts, which allowed for the higher demand of peanuts to be accommodated across the Southeast region of the country.
In 1903, George Washington Carver conducted research and found more than 300 uses for peanuts, thus making the crop even more valuable to farmers and those involved in the planting and harvesting of the crop. Dr. Carver proposed that peanuts be planted as a rotation crop in the cotton-growing areas of the Southeast where the boll weevil insect threatened the region’s agricultural base.
Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the production of peanuts and has helped legislation be adopted to promote the production of this important crop.