Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

Bald Peanuts on the Dock

When I first heard my uncles rave about “bald peanuts”, I imagined Mr. Potato Head-like legumes with receding hairlines. It was only after my first taste of these soft, briny nuts, while sitting on Folly Beach in South Carolina, that I realized my uncles, in their southern drawls, had been talking about “boiled” peanuts.

Sign for Timbo's Peanuts

These nuts are typically southern and have become the official snack food of South Carolina and a beloved Charleston street food. They’re made from “raw” or “green” peanuts that are full-sized, but not completely dry, which are boiled for 2-4 hours in salted water. Sometimes other flavors are added to the brine, such as beer, ham or spices. While the smaller peanuts have a nuttier flavor the larger nuts take on a bean-like flavor and texture. So this Tuesday David and I decided to taste Timbo’s boiled peanuts, reputed to be the best in Charleston.

Timbo's Boiled Peanuts in Charleston, SC

Timbo mans his graffiti-covered boiled peanut stand, nestled beneath the drooping oaks of highway 61, everyday but Tuesday—although the stall is still open. He sells three flavors: original, ham and Cajun for $3 a pound. Cajun, a blend of Tabasco, red pepper, and slices of jalapenos is mildly spicy and leaves your lips tingling. It’s Timbo’s most popular flavor.

The flavoring doesn’t permeate the actual nut, but rather it flavors the salty boiling liquid, the shell, and imparts an aroma as you chomp on this perfect summer snack. When we tasted each of the three flavors, it was only by cracking the whole shell in our mouth, not the individual nut, that we could differentiate flavors.

So, how do you eat a “bald” peanut? You throw the whole peanut in your mouth, crack it gently with your teeth and suck the briny, flavored liquid out. Then, grab the shell, open it up and eat only the nuts inside. Their saltiness (and spiciness) makes them the perfect partner to a frosty beer.

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