Peanuts, also known as groundnuts are one of the most popular edible seeds in the world. You can eat them as-is or process them further into on-the-shelf products like peanut butter, oil, snacks, and soups. Depending on what you want to make, some peanut manufacturing processes include roasting, frying, boiling, grinding, pressing, and coating the peanuts.
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Different peanuts for making different products
You make fried peanuts by deep-frying the raw peanuts in oil until they just begin to turn brown. You then sieve the fried peanuts to remove the excess oil and sprinkle some salt to taste.
When producing fried peanuts, you should consider the type of oil you want to use, your production volume, and the particular peanut strain to determine the best production technology for your needs. It will vary because each peanut type – runner, Virginia, Spanish, and Valencia – can deliver different peanut products. You can get peanut butter from runner peanuts, and snacks and roasted peanuts from the larger Virginia peanuts, The sweet Valencia peanuts are good for boiled peanuts and homemade peanut butter. Finally, the versatile Spanish peanuts is the best for peanut oil production.
Matters of the heart: what oil to choose
The most common oils for deep-frying peanuts are peanut oil itself, soybean oil, canola oil, coconut oil, and olive oil. The ideal oils should have a high concentration of monounsaturated and saturated fats, and a low concentration of polyunsaturated fats.
Peanut oil is excellent for deep frying and blends with the taste of peanuts. It, however, contains a relatively high amount of polyunsaturated fats. Soybean oil is also a good choice to fry peanuts as it doesn’t alter their flavor. It also contains a high level of polyunsaturated fats, though. Olive oil and coconut oil are considered the healthiest oils with ideal concentrations of heart-healthy fats. They are great alternatives to peanut oil but are relatively more expensive. Having said that, peanuts are said to improve our hearts longevity according to this study.
An extra layer of tasty: salty, sweet, and other peanuts
Peanut processing can result in salty peanuts, sweet peanuts, and other flavors. To do that, you soak or coat the peanuts raw or cooked in different solutions to allow the flavor to seep in. Salty or salted peanuts are soaked or cooked in a salty solution. Sweet peanuts are made by coating the peas in sugar or a sweetener like caramel. Equipment like a coating machine ensures uniformly and consistently coated peanuts.
When making sweet peanuts…
For sweet peanuts, it is ideal to roast the peanuts before coating them in the melted sugar or sweetener to reduce the chances of them getting burnt. Also, take care that the sugar doesn’t caramelize (become brown) before putting the peanuts in.
You can spice your salty or sweet peanuts with other flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg. Another popular peanut snack is a peanut burger. This is made by coating the roasted peanuts in dough and then oven-baking them to add a crunchy layer to the peanuts.
Peanut Processing 101: aflatoxin levels
One important criterion to consider when making peanuts or peanut products is the aflatoxin levels. Aflatoxins are toxic compounds that can cause disease in humans and animals and are common in peanuts and other food products.
Aflatoxins cannot be completely destroyed by heat treatment or during processing. You must have testing equipment to ensure the aflatoxin levels in your raw peanuts are within safe limits as specified by the regulations before moving forward with any other manufacturing process. You must also specify on your products that peanuts can cause allergies.
Food processing involves many different steps and processing machinery. The same is true for peanut and groundnut processing. Peanuts go through various processing equipment to reach the end consumer. For successful production, specialized peanut processors are used to make this as automated as possible. First, the peanuts are procured from the ground.
After which, they run through separation equipment to remove unwanted particles such as soil remnants and dust particles. Then, the peanuts enter a shelling machine to remove their shells. Once de-shelling has occurred, the peanuts can now enter a gravity separator to get rid of further impurities or left over shells. Separation effectiveness is key to ensuring a quality final product.
The penultimate step is putting the peanuts through a grading machine that separates them according to weight. Finally, further separation occurs after this whereby the nuts are split up by size. If you’re looking to make nut butter then additional equipment and processing will need to take place.