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Boiled Peanuts

['1 1/2 cups salt, plus more to taste', '2 pounds raw peanuts in the shell', 'or 3 pounds green peanuts']

1 In a 10- to 12-quart stockpot, stir 1/2 cup salt into 2 gallons of water until the salt dissolves, and add the raw peanuts. Use a large dinner plate or two to help submerge the floating peanuts. Allow to soak for 8 hours or overnight. (This step saves a little time boiling, and thus fuel, but if you don't have the luxury of time, skip this step. Skip it also if you're using green peanuts.)
2 Drain the soaking water and fill the pot of peanuts with 2 gallons of fresh water and the remaining cup of salt. Note the level of the water on the side of the pot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer, covered, for 6 to 8 hours (or 2 to 3 hours for green peanuts), keeping the water in the pot within an inch or so of its original level with regular additions of water, until the peanuts are soft as a roasted chestnut or softer.
3 When the peanuts have boiled for 3 hours (or 1 hour for green peanuts), sample them to check their texture and salinity. Remove a peanut, and when it is cool enough to handle, crack open the shell and give the kernel a chew, slurping some brine with it. If the peanut crunches, it should be cooked further. If the brine lacks enough salt, add by 1/4-cup amounts; if it is too salty, remove a portion of the water and replace with the same volume of fresh water. Allow an hour for the salinity to equalize before testing again. Sample every hour until the peanuts are pleasantly yielding and as salty and appetizing as a good pickle.
4 When the peanuts are cooked to your satisfaction, turn off the heat and allow them to cool in the pot for an hour (or 30 minutes for green peanuts). When cool enough to handle, drain and eat immediately or store in the shell, in a sealed container, in the refrigerator or freezer. (Boiled peanuts will keep for 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator and for several months in the freezer.)

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