Next: Pecan nuts
Scientific name – Arachis hypogaea
Peanuts are a very important food and a traditional and popular snack eaten all over the world either raw, roasted or salted. They are included in a wide range of confectionery, sweetmeats, stews and sauces (especially the popular sauce used with satay), salads, soups and curries. Roasting improves the flavour of peanuts and enables the outer skin to be removed more easily.
They are also used to make cooking oil and peanut butter. Peanut butter had its start as the all-American food in 1890 when a doctor in Missouri created it as an easy to eat food. The recipe contained only roasted peanuts ground into a spreadable paste. It soon became popular to add sugar and salt to enhance its taste.
The Aztecs applied peanut paste to soothe aching gums, but carcinogenic aflatoxins produced in mouldy peanuts are a serious health risk, so old peanuts should always be avoided.