Black History Month is here, so let's talk about one of the greatest agricultural minds of the 19th and 20th centuries, George Washington Carver (1864-1943). Back in 1941, Time Magazine called him the "Black Leonardo," but the magazine was referring mostly to his artwork, which used Alabama red clay and peanut-based paints among other media.
Carver was a Renaissance man who worked extensively on finding uses for the peanut, sweet potato, soy beans, cow peas, and pecans. He discovered myriad industrial applications for these crops, from plastics to nitroglycerin, as a means of offering economic alternatives to cotton for poor farmers in the South. Carver never kept a lab book and left no formulas or procedures for his products; he seems to have been more concerned with proving sustainable agriculture as a viable means of existence.
Here are our Top 5 choices for George Washington Carver peanut recipes from his 1916 bulletin "How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing It for Human Consumption."
5. Peanut Frappe - Make one pint of good gelatin; set aside to harden. Stir 1 cup of granulated sugar into one pint of whipped cream; when the gelatin is just at the point of setting, stir into the whipped cream by beating it with a fork; add 3/4 cup of peanut meal; serve in sherbert glasses with fresh or preserved fruit.
4. Peanut and Prune Ice Cream -
2 cups milk
3 egg yolks
1/2 pound pulp from well-cooked and sweetened prunes
1 quart cream cup blanched and ground peanuts. (Peanut meal can be used.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract and a pinch of salt
Heat the milk; pour it into the well-beaten egg yolk; blend all the other ingredients thoroughly; freeze and serve in dainty glasses.
3. Peanut Timbales -
1/2 pint of peanuts cooked until soft in salted water; drain and mash
2 well-beaten eggs and two cups thin cream, added to the nuts
1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a dash of pepper
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Turn into custard cups; put the cups in a basin; surround them with boiling water; cover the tops with buttered paper, and bake in a moderate oven for 20 or 25 minutes; then unmould and serve with a little cream sauce poured around them.
2. Consomme of Peanuts -
Take 1 pint of shelled peanuts; boil or steam until the skins can be removed; boil in salted water until tender and until nearly all the water boils away; add 1 quart of beef stock, a few grains of cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt; let boil slowly for 10 minutes; serve hot.
1. Peanut Cookies -
3 cups flour
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sweet milk
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups ground peanuts
Cream butter and sugar; add eggs well beaten; now add the milk and flour; flavor to taste with vanilla; add the peanuts last; drop cookie dough by the spoonful onto well-greased pans; bake quickly.