Are peanuts actually peas . . . or nuts?

Now We Know: Answering the food and drink questions you didn’t even know you had

While a lot of other common nuts tend to grow on bushes or trees, peanuts grow in pods just like their bean and pea cousins. Photograph: iStock

While a lot of other common nuts tend to grow on bushes or trees, peanuts grow in pods just like their bean and pea cousins. Photograph: iStock

 

Peanuts are nuts, right? Or are they actually peas...? Think about those autumnal bags of peanuts in their shells. What do they remind you of? I would say they remind me of pods, as in pea pods.

Turns out peanuts are technically a legume. That means their closest cousins are chickpeas, broad beans and garden peas, and not walnuts and almonds as we might assume. According to the Peanut Institute (www.peanut-institute.org) “for culinary, research and nutritional purposes peanuts are considered a nut. Peanuts grow underground, as opposed to nuts like walnuts, almonds, etc that grow on trees and these are botanically considered drupes.” While a lot of other common nuts tend to grow on bushes or trees, peanuts grow in pods just like their bean and pea cousins.

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‘Protein, fibres and nutrients’

One of the yummiest nut butters on the Irish market is being blitzed up in Galway by food and travel fanatic Katie Gorman, who launched Totally Nutz in 2017 (https://totallynutzbutter.com). Her range includes smooth and crunchy peanut and almond butters. “A lot of people think that almonds are a lot healthier than peanuts,” says Gorman, “but there really isn’t much difference in terms of protein, fibres and nutrients. I think people feel like they can eat more almonds than peanuts, but really per spoonful they’re the same. The main difference is price – almonds are way more expensive.” In an article for Medium.com called ‘Are Fancy Nut Butters Really Healthier Than Peanut Butter?’, health writer Markham Heid shared professor of nutrition Richard Mattes’ findings that, beyond allergies, there was no evidence to say that peanut butter was less healthy than any other nut butter.

Due to popular demand

Back in Galway, Gorman sources her nuts from Nuts in Bulk, one of Ireland’s largest wholesale and retail supplier of nuts, seeds, dried fruit, herbs and spices. The peanuts that Gorman uses for her butters tend to come from South America via Glasnevin in Dublin where Nuts in Bulk are based. Gorman launched her product line with smooth peanut butter first but brought in the crunchy variety due to popular demand. She loves cooking with peanuts and peanut butter because she thinks its strong flavour makes it more versatile in stir-fries, cakes and cookies. “Almond butter is less versatile when it comes to cooking,” she says. She makes the point that almond butter gets a bit lost when competing with other flavours.

For her day job, Katie works in Ard Bia – a mecca for Irish tastebuds – who sell her butters on their shelves. You’ll also find tubs of Totally Nutz for sale in McCambridge’s of Galway, Noursih in Barna, and Murray’s Bakery in Salthill where the nut butter is also used in their renowned peanut butter and salted caramel cookies. If you’re not heading out west anytime soon, order a tub from https://totallynutzbutter.com/. 

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