Although they have “nut” right in the name, peanuts aren’t nuts at all; that means they need preparation before we eat them. However, you need to prepare peanuts for storage, too. You can keep them for use as seeds, but storing them straight out of the ground presents issues.
You can dry peanuts for seeds simply using time and air, or you can buy drying agents to do the job faster. Still, the seeds must be dried to avoid rot or health concerns. Whether you allow them to air dry or purchase a drying agent, the drying step is essential.
Drying peanuts isn’t difficult, but it is necessary and time-consuming. You do need to take some care throughout the whole process. Damaged peanuts won’t work well as seeds, so you must take care to handle them gently.
Why We Dry Peanuts for Seeds?
When peanuts get harvested, the pods with the peanuts in them are pretty damp, with a moisture level of about 50%. This is true even if the soil is dry when we do it. For the peanuts to roast well or even be eaten raw, that moisture level must come down.
Today I’m talking about drying them not to eat, but to use as seeds. If you were to pull the peanuts out of the ground and immediately replant them, you wouldn’t need to dry them. However, if you’re at the end of the harvesting season, you won’t get any immediate use out of those seeds.
Instead, you’ll likely consider saving the peanuts you just harvested to use as seeds for the next season. With a high moisture content, you open your stored seeds up to the possibility of mold and rot. If your peanuts rot due to being too wet in storage, they’ll be ruined.
However, the real problem with storing wet peanuts is mold, which can be pretty dangerous. Peanut mold (Aspergillus flavus) contains aflatoxin. The name alone tells us it’s bad, but it does more than just make you feel bad. Aflatoxin is a known carcinogen, which means that moldy peanuts are bad for you.
With this in mind, you must dry peanuts properly before putting them up for storage.
How Do You Dry Peanuts for Seeds?
The first thing to know is that you will dry the peanuts in their shells. When it’s time to plant, you’ll shell them first. However, for the drying and storage processes, you can use the shells for their intended purpose: to protect the seeds.
Using the Sun To Dry Peanuts
In a drier climate, you might find it possible to leave the harvested peanuts in the sun to dry out.
Depending on the kind of peanut, it can take between 100 and 150 days for the crop to mature for harvesting. Since the best time to plant peanuts is in May, you could be harvesting peanuts any time between August and October.
In some parts of the country, October is still plenty hot. Still, even in hot parts of the country, leaving your peanuts out in the sun may not be an option.
In that case, you’ll need to dry them using other methods.
Hanging Peanuts To Dry
You can also use the hanging method to dry your peanuts for seeds. Hang the peanuts up from your barn, shop, or other outbuilding rafters, ensuring that the place is relatively cool and dry (though dry is the more important feature of the two).
Alternatively, you could use the Growsun Hanging Mesh Dry Net (available on Amazon.com). While designated as an herb drying rack, it won’t break if you put seeds in it, and the drying mechanism is the same: it provides a place that allows for air circulation.
After a few weeks (two to three, on average), gently remove the peanuts from the drying rack or wherever you stored them. Be careful not to disturb them too much, as this can damage them. A broken peanut seed won’t germinate. So, if you break them all after spending the time to dry them, you’ve just wasted the seeds and your time.
Silica Gel Dries Peanuts Quickly
You know the little packets that look like the salt and pepper packs you get from fast food, but you instead find packaged with new shoes and such? Those are silica gel packets, and they prevent moisture from accumulating in products as they get transported from location to location.
Weather changes can cause condensation, so these gel packets function as desiccants. This means that they are able to absorb any moisture that they encounter.
Here’s how you can dry your peanuts for seeds using silica gel crystals:
- Match the crystals’ weight to the weight of the peanuts to be dried. If you’re drying 1 pound (0.45 kg) of peanuts, you’ll need a pound of the crystals.
- In an airtight container, place the crystals and a layer of screening on top of them. Spread the peanuts to be dried over the screen, spaced as far apart as possible. You can use screw-top glass jars, but you won’t be able to spread the peanuts very far apart, and the drying will take longer.
- Seal the container, then leave it alone for at least a week. After a week to ten days, your peanuts should be suitably dry for storage.
How Do You Plant Dried Peanut Seeds?
Peanuts need to go into the ground in late spring or early summer. Remember that they like hot weather, so they may not deal well with cooler temperatures if you go with an early spring planting.
- Pull your seeds (still in their pods) from storage and break them open. However, be careful when you do so. As we stated above, the seeds won’t germinate if they’re broken.
- Leave the skins (the red, papery covering) on the peanuts. It’s worth noting here that you can plant the entire outer shell, but they will take longer to germinate. This may be a concern if you plant late in the year, or if the hot season in your area is a shorter one.
- Plant the seeds—two or three per hole—about two inches deep and one foot apart. Ensure the soil has good drainage, as wet soil may cause rot or mold.
- Plant peanuts in rows two to three feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) apart. You can also plant them in mounds as you would root vegetables.
- Expect about five peanut plants per row-foot. This should translate to about 125 plants per acre.
Since peanut seeds aren’t exactly ubiquitous at your local big-box nursery, saving peanuts for seeds may be an excellent option for you and your garden. However, you’ll have to dry them properly to ensure that they’ll grow next season and won’t endanger your health.
Using the sun’s heat or simply a sufficient source of flowing air can accomplish the task of drying peanuts. It isn’t difficult, but it’s necessary, so don’t skip the drying step of harvesting your peanuts.