Peanut, also known as groundnut and goober and is a crop of global importance. It is widely grown in the tropics and subtropics, being important to both smallholder and large commercial producers. It is classified as both a grain legume, and, because of its high oil content, an oil crop. Peanuts are similar in taste and nutritional profile to tree nuts such as walnuts and almonds, and are often served in similar ways in Western cuisines. Major exporters are India, which accounts for 37% of world exports and China Argentina for 13%, the United States for 10%, China for 8% and Malawi for 5%. Major importers are the Netherlands, which accounts for 17% of world imports (most being shipped on to other countries in the European Union), Indonesia that accounts for 10%, Mexico for 7%, Germany for 6% and Russia for 5%. Peanut oil is often used in cooking, because it has a mild flavor and a relatively high smoke point. Due to its high monounsaturated content, it is considered healthier than saturated oils, and is resistant to rancidity. In the Indian subcontinent, peanuts are known as a light snack by themselves, usually roasted and salted (sometimes with the addition of chilli powder), and often sold roasted in pod, or boiled with salt. They are also made into little dessert or sweet snack pieces by processing with refined sugar and jaggery. Indian cuisine uses roasted, crushed peanuts to give a crunchy body to salads; they are added whole (without pods) to leafy vegetable stews for the same reason. Another use of peanut oil as cooking oil. Most Indians use mustard, sunflower, and peanut oil for cooking. In South india, groundnut ‘chutney’ is a popular combination, usually partaken with dosa and idli at breakfast. Peanuts grow well in southern Mali and adjacent regions of the Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Nigeria, and Senegal; peanuts are similar in both agricultural and culinary qualities to the Bambara groundnut native to the region, and West Africans have adopted the crop as a staple. Peanut sauce, prepared with onions, garlic, peanut butter/paste, and vegetables such as carrots, cabbage, and cauliflower, can be vegetarian (the peanuts supplying ample protein) or prepared with meat, usually chicken.
In Canada and the US, peanuts are used in candies, cakes, cookies, and other sweets. They are also enjoyed roasted and salted. Peanut butter is one of the most popular peanut-based foods in the US, and for 400 years, recipes for peanut soup have been present in the South, Virginia in particular. In some southern portions of the US, peanuts are boiled for several hours until soft and moist. Peanuts are also deep-fried, shell and all.
Peanut plant tops are used for hay. The protein cake (oilcake meal) residue from oil processing is used as an animal feed and as a soil fertilizer. Groundnut cake is a livestock feed, mostly used by cattle as protein supplements. Peanuts have a variety of industrial end uses. Paint, varnish, lubricating oil, leather dressings, furniture polish, insecticides, and nitroglycerin are made from peanut oil. Soap is made from saponified oil, and many cosmetics contain peanut oil and its derivatives. The protein portion is used in the manufacture of some textile fibers. Peanut shells are used in the manufacture of plastic, wallboard, abrasives, fuel, cellulose (used in rayon and paper), and mucilage (glue).