Every year in October, the city of Williston in Levy County, FL hosts the Central Florida Peanut Festival, a day-long event celebrating one of the county’s most important crops.
In the 2012 USDA Census of Agriculture, peanuts ranked as the top crop in Levy County. The county was ranked the third highest peanut producer in Florida and the 12th in the United States. Peanuts have been grown here since the late 1800s, and in 1974, the county even set a national record for production.
Several peanut varieties are grown in Levy County, including Virginia and Valencia, but Runners are the predominant variety. Runners are used as seed crops, as well as in making peanut butter, oil, candies, and other goods. Virginia peanuts are typically roasted and salted in their shells, while Valencia peanuts are enjoyed boiled – a popular Southern snack found everywhere in the region.
At Williston’s annual peanut festival, you get to sample delicious goodies made from Levy County peanuts, including roasted, boiled, fried, and baked peanuts. But you can enjoy these treats all year round. Buy raw peanuts or grow your own and whip up a special snack – including your very own peanut butter – anytime you want.
You can find numerous recipes using peanuts and peanut butter in Southern cookbooks. Here’s a few you might want to try:
Homemade Peanut Butter
(Recipe from https://pinchofyum.com/5-minute-homemade-peanut-butter)
- 2 cups dry roasted peanuts
- 1-2 tablespoons honey or sugar
- additional salt to taste
- Place peanuts in a food processor. Turn the food processor on and let it run for 4-5 minutes. During this time, you’ll see the peanuts go in stages from crumbs to a dry ball to a smooth and creamy “liquid” peanut butter. Stir in the sugar, honey, or salt, if you want.
- Store in the fridge or at room temperature
- 2 Tbsp peanut oil
- 2 cups shelled, skinned, raw peanuts
- 5 to 10 whole garlic cloves, skins removed
- 1 to 3 tsp chili powder or cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp salt
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add the peanuts and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and stir in the chili powder and salt.
- Cook, stirring occasionally, another 1 or 2 minutes.
- Transfer to a tray, let cool. Discard garlic if desired.
- 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 cup salted or lightly salted roasted peanuts
- Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat and set aside.
- In a small saucepan add brown sugar. Use your hands to break up any clumps. Drizzle 1/4 cups of water over sugar and swirl around pan to moisten the sugar. Stir to dissolve completely.
- Heat sugar over medium high, swirling the pan occasionally to ensure even heating. Sugar will begin to bubble vigorously. Continue heating and swirling until mixture reaches 230°F as measured on a candy or instant read thermometer.
- Remove from heat and quickly add peanuts, stir to coat then immediately then drop by heaping tablespoonfuls onto prepared pan, spacing pralines 2 inches apart.
- Let cool for 30 minutes then serve. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Peanut Macaroons (makes about 16 cookies)
- 1 egg white
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease some cookie sheets.
- Beat egg white until stiff, then gradually add the sugar, beating constantly.
- Stir in the peanuts and vanilla.
- Place by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheets, about 1 and 1/2 inches apart. Bake until dry, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Grow peanuts in your very own farm, whether as a hobby or for profit. Ranch Finder Southern Homes and Farms can help you find the perfect property in Levy County and other places in Northern Florida. Get in touch with them at 352.559.0964 or at this website, or send an email to info(at)ranchfinders(dotted)com.