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Anyone who takes the trouble to translate the English »peanut« already suspects that this plant is reluctant to be pigeonholed. Because, according to the translation, the "pea nut" is somehow both. With its closed sleeve, it has something in common with nuts. On the other hand, you can see at first glance that the herbaceous, up to 70 cm high plant with the delicate pinnate leaves is closely related to the pea. And, as is well known, this is one of the legumes.
The peanut also proves to be a free spirit on the field. It takes two months or more to bloom, producing tons of flowers, of which only one in five is fertilized. Then it becomes really strange: after fertilization, its flower stems bend down and grow up to eight centimeters deep in the ground. Well protected, the peanut seeds continue to develop here in the typical coarsely wetted pods until they are ripe and live up to their name.
It is believed that the peanut plant protects its seeds from steppe fires. That may be true, after all, the peanut likes to be warm and grows best in regions where such fires can occur. Just to germinate, it needs an impressive 30 to 34 degrees Celsius. In terms of water and soil, on the other hand, it is significantly more frugal, which, in combination with its high nutritional value, has made it a very popular food in many tropical areas.
In contrast to all other legumes, the peanut can also be eaten raw, which is particularly popular in Africa. Here, however, the peanut in another form, roasted, processed into porridge or flour, has the status of a staple food. And in its raw form, it reveals its closeness to the legumes, because fresh peanuts taste slightly like beans (not peas).
However, the largest growing countries are India and China. Indians and Chinese keep the goods almost entirely in their own country. They particularly appreciate the peanut oil, which makes up up to 50 percent of the ingredients. Peanut oil even has the status of a remedy here. In the most important export country, the USA, on the other hand, it is more of a staple for many Americans. Peanut butter is a must in every household. One can argue about their health value, but not about the valuable ingredients of the peanut. Lots of protein (25 percent), plenty of potassium and the highest magnesium content of all plant-based foods make them thoroughly healthy foods.
A real downer is their high allergy potential. In the most affected countries, the United States and the United Kingdom, about one percent of adults are allergic to protein. The number of people affected is also growing in Germany. Even amounts in the microgram range are enough to trigger extremely violent reactions such as nausea, rapid heartbeat or breathing difficulties. The only thing left to those affected is to avoid foods with peanut components completely. The remaining 99 percent can be happy that this weird guy named peanut enriches our menu in so many different ways. Jürgen Beckhoff, aid