Where do peanuts come from?
The peanut probably originated in Brazil or Peru, although no fossil records exist to prove this. Peanuts were grown as far north as Mexico by the time the Spanish began their exploration of the new world. The explorers took peanuts back to Spain, where they are still grown today. From Spain, traders and explorers took peanuts to Africa and Asia. Africans were the first people to introduce peanuts to North America. Eventually, peanuts were planted throughout the Southern United States. Today, peanuts are one of America's favorite foods.

How do peanuts grow?
Unlike other nuts, peanuts do not grow on trees. The peanut grows on a plant which flowers above the soil but fruits below it. A farmer usually plants his peanuts in April or May. Once planted, peanut seeds grow into a green, oval-shaped plant which reaches about 18 inches in height when fully mature. Small yellow flowers appear in the lower part of the plant. These flowers pollinate themselves and then lose their petals as the fertilized ovary begin to enlarge. The enlarged ovary grows down and away from the plant forming a small stem which extends to the soil. The embryo begins to develop once underground, growing into a peanut. From planting to harvesting, the growing cycle of a peanut takes 4 to 5 months.

How many types of peanuts are there?
Although peanuts come in many varieties, there are four basic types grown in the United States today. They are: Runner, Spanish, Valencia and Virginia. Each type is unique in size, shape and flavor. Runner peanuts are mainly grown in Alabama, Florida and Georgia, and over half of the Runner peanuts grown in the United States are used to make peanut butter. Spanish peanuts, grown mostly in Oklahoma and Texas, are primarily used to make candies and peanut oil. Valencia peanuts are mainly grown in New Mexico and are the sweetest of the four types. Virginia peanuts, grown in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina, are mainly roasted and sold in and out of the shell.

Where do peanuts grow?
Today 70 counties in Georgia produced 965,000 tons of peanuts with Mitchell, Worth, Miller, Decatur and Early counties producing the most. Georgia has approximately 14,000 farms with peanuts and about 3,500 active farmers.

How is peanut butter made?
First the raw, shelled peanut is roasted and cooled, then the skins are blanched. The blanched peanut kernels are electronically sorted or hand picked to be sure only good, wholesome kernels are used in peanut butter. The peanuts are ground, usually through two grinding stages, to produce a smooth, even-textured butter. The peanuts are heated during the grinding to about 170 degrees. Once the emulsifiers are added and mixed, the butter is cooled rapidly to 120 degrees or below. This crystalizes the emulsifiers, thus trapping the peanut oil that was released by the grinding to make chunky peanut butter, the manufacturer will add peanut granules to the creamy peanut butter. The peanut butter is then packed into containers for sale at stores.

Are peanuts and peanut butter good for you?
Peanuts contain an incredible 26 percent protein. They fulfill approximately 30% of a 4-6 year old's and 26% of a 7-10 year old's Recommended Daily Allowance per serving. Protein is a valuable source of energy and contains six essential vitamins including Vitamin E, folate, riboflavin, thiamin, niacin, and Vitamin B6. Peanuts also contain seven essential minerals including phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, copper and calcium. Peanuts are cholesterol free and low in saturated fat. For all these reasons, peanuts are often referred to as nutrition in a nutshell.

Is a peanut really a nut?
Many are surprised to discover the peanut is actually not a nut at all. In fact, it is a legume and belongs to the pea family.

Which food group do peanuts belong in?
Peanuts and peanut butter fit into the protein group of the MyPlate. The MyPlate is based on the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans to help consumers make better food choices. The serving size for peanuts is one ounce and for peanut butter is two tablespoons. Click here for more information on MyPlate.