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Ground Nut  - Arachis hypogaea L

Ground Nut  ( Arachis hypogaea L )

The groundnut belongs to the pea and bean family and is a legume. But it is considered as nut because of its high nutritional value. That is how it is used in family meals and snacks.

The groundnut is the only nut that grows below the earth. The groundnut plant is a variable annual herb, which grows up to 50 cm. in height. The flowers of the plant develop a stalk which enters into the soil, forms a pod containing generally two seeds. They become mature in about two months, when the leaves of the plant turn yellow. The plant is then removed from the earth and allowed to dry. After three to six weeks they are separated from the plant.

The groundnuts are consumed in many ways and various forms. They may be eaten raw, boiled, steamed or roasted. They are sometimes eaten as a sweetmeat by coating them with sugar. In the West, they form an important constituent of confections. They are often taken in the form of nut chocolates , candies and sandwiches.

A large number of food products are prepared from the groundnuts. The groundnut flour is becoming increasingly popular in the West. It is by far superior to wheat flour in nutritive value. Groundnuts may be used for preparing a nutritive and tasty milk. About one pound of lightly roasted nuts may be soaked in water for about two hours. The skin of the nuts should be removed by rubbing in water. The soaked nuts are made into a fine paste in a stone grinder. The paste is mixed with water to the quantity of three times the bulk of the paste. It should be strained through a thin cloth before use. The milk may be boiled without loss of its food value. Sugar may be added to taste. In food value and composition. the peanut milk is similar to dairy milk and may be used as its substitute.

The groundnut milk may be converted into curd. A small quantity of the cow milk curd may be added to the milk and allowed to remain overnight to set. It tastes like milk curd and possesses much of its qualities.

Groundnuts are often used as vegetables when the seeds are still tender. They may also be taken in their germinated form. Germination not only renders them more digestible. but also enhances their food value, especially in their vitamin B and C contents.

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