Perfect roasted peanuts?

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Rangen

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It is not easy to get my wife to focus on comparative tasting. She's really good at it, but she just cannot care about it. But when I can get her to do it, she's right, or at least better than me.

All this is background to the peanut question. Long ago, I stopped buying roasted peanuts, because the ones I could make at home were so much better. We are talking peanuts without shell, and stripped of their red skin.

I started with a 300 degree oven, but was forced to concede that 350 is better. I salt them by putting about 2 tablespoons of water, or a little less, into my hand, and mixing it with however many raw peanuts fit into a half-sheet pan, in one layer. Then I add kosher salt by instinct, and roast. 8-9 minutes, then stir the peanuts around in the pan, then 8-9 minutes more.

For me, this is perfection. The peanuts make a perfect snack. I can also make my favorite peanut butter, roasting unsalted, pulsing the food processor a bit to make crunchy bits, removing some, running the processor until it makes the moist paste that we call peanut butter. Then salt, then blend in the reserved crunchy bits.

It's a perfect picture, or it was until my wife weighed in, with her reluctant but superior palate. She pointed out that the result was less sweet than her favored peanut butter (Maranantha, I think, but it could be that 365 Whole Foods house brand), even though that lists no sugar among its ingredients. I tasted, and she was right. Not only that, I could taste the uneven roasting effects in my own creation. Augh! The commercial stuff tasted sort of like good tahini, perfectly evenly roasted throughout. I do not know how to do that in an oven.

Perhaps my coffee roasting obsession has tainted my views here, but it sure appears to me that what I need is a rotating drum roaster for peanuts. Does that exist? Or is there some trick I am missing, to make the perfect evenly-roasted-through peanuts that will produce the perfect peanut butter?
 

Justinv

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The max quantity is small but an air popcorn popper could be tried. I’ve roasted coffee in one. There is lots of info out there on appropriate models for coffee roasting. They are very even.

Do make some kung pao chicken with freshly roasted peanuts!
 

WildBoar

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Maybe rotate the pan a couple times during cooking, and stir more than just once? Drop the temp a little and add convection?
 

Rangen

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The max quantity is small but an air popcorn popper could be tried. I’ve roasted coffee in one. There is lots of info out there on appropriate models for coffee roasting. They are very even.

Do make some kung pao chicken with freshly roasted peanuts!
Air popper seems worth a try. Thanks!

And yes, I make kung pao chicken with freshly roasted peanuts about once every 6 weeks. I use the Raymond Delfs recipe, highly modified over the years. For me, it is not kung pao chicken if you don't burn the peppers in the oil and choke out every creature in the vicinity. One of my favorite dishes, except I have had good ones at restaurants only very rarely.
 

RonB

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I live not too far from Suffolk VA now, and Suffolk bills itself as the peanut capitol of the world. As a kid, my family lived in Norfolk VA, and we would frequently visit relatives near Richmond VA. To make the trip, we traveled through Suffolk. My Dad loved roasted peanuts and would often stop for some in Suffolk. It seemed to me that every gas station had a small roaster that ran constantly. They had a rotating drum that was filled with peanuts and the employee would scoop hot peanuts, (in the shell), from the roaster and put them still warm into a bag. We would eat them going up the road.

The point of this is that they must have been roasted at the temperature where they were done because if roasted at a higher temp, they would have overcooked staying in the roaster all day. (Think sous vide.)
 

Rangen

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I live not too far from Suffolk VA now, and Suffolk bills itself as the peanut capitol of the world. As a kid, my family lived in Norfolk VA, and we would frequently visit relatives near Richmond VA. To make the trip, we traveled through Suffolk. My Dad loved roasted peanuts and would often stop for some in Suffolk. It seemed to me that every gas station had a small roaster that ran constantly. They had a rotating drum that was filled with peanuts and the employee would scoop hot peanuts, (in the shell), from the roaster and put them still warm into a bag. We would eat them going up the road.

The point of this is that they must have been roasted at the temperature where they were done because if roasted at a higher temp, they would have overcooked staying in the roaster all day. (Think sous vide.)
This sounds absolutely perfect. I want one of those.
 

Kippington

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I'm curious about the science, wouldn't the same theory that makes peanuts sweeter work on coffee beans too?
Maybe it has to do with the sugar content of the original source, kinda like how corn is sorted into popping-corn by moisture content?

Just throwing out random questions, I am not knowledgeable on any of this.
 

M1k3

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Try 320-325° F and rotating halfway through. Also don't crowd the pan. And snack salt.
 

Justinv

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I'm curious about the science, wouldn't the same theory that makes peanuts sweeter work on coffee beans too?
Coffee is highly acidic and roasting reduces acid. Very dark roasts can have some sweetness.
 

Rangen

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I'm curious about the science, wouldn't the same theory that makes peanuts sweeter work on coffee beans too?
Maybe it has to do with the sugar content of the original source, kinda like how corn is sorted into popping-corn by moisture content?

Just throwing out random questions, I am not knowledgeable on any of this.
Sweetness in coffee roasting is definitely a goal. If the beans/coffee taste as sweet as those beans are capable of, you've probably got a really good roast.

The goal is simple. The means are not. Perceived sweetness in a coffee comes from the influences of tons of different substances that are all affected by caramelization and similar reactions during the roast. Those influences are different between coffees, and different for the same coffee in a different harvest. So you sort of have to home in on it.

There can be rules of thumb. I don't know why Indonesia-area coffee usually comes out sweeter if I start at a lower temperature and extend the drying phase, and Ethiopia coffee usually comes out sweeter if I start at a higher temperature and push all the way until I get a vigorous first crack, then back off. Seems to be true, though.

Part of what's going on is that you're not just trying to make sweet components taste sweet; you're also trying to make bitter components less bitter.
 

Rangen

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Try 320-325° F and rotating halfway through. Also don't crowd the pan. And snack salt.
325 and less crowding worked great. Thanks!

Rotating the pan mattered a whole lot on my previous (gas) oven, and matters almost not at all on my current (electric) oven. What matters is that there's more heat in the middle of the sheet pan than the edges, so I stir things around at the halfway point.
 

MarcelNL

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another coffee roaster here and I too do not bother anymore with pre roasted peanuts, I preheat a thick pan, lower the heat add the peanits and slow roast them in like 12 minutes or so shaking them around every minute or so. On that note, frying them at 150-ish Celsius also works a treat, makes a great snack with flash roasted Nori and some sugar and salt.
 

MarcelNL

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For coffee, the altitude at which the beans are grown matters a lot, high grown beans are more dense, variety and terroir matter too.

Those Ethiopian beans usually are high grown high acidity beans that you want to roast only lightly to preserve their origin flavors, extraction needs to take place after grinding finer than other coffees and at higher water temperature to tame the acidity. Funny ting is that our taste can be fooled, acidity balances with bitter...take one of the two away and BAM the other is in your face,
 
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