Peanuts are popular all over the world, but Southerners love them best. Perhaps that’s because farmers in Southern states grow 99 percent of the U.S. peanut crop and provide 10 percent of the world’s peanuts. Alabama is the country’s No. 3 producer of peanuts, so it’s no surprise they’re the state’s favorite nut (although peanuts are actually legumes). The smell of freshly harvested peanuts fills the air each fall in more than half of the state’s counties, and boiled peanuts are easy to find at gas stations, roadside stands and farmers markets just about anywhere in Alabama.
“There’s nothing as Southern as boiled peanuts,” said Elizabeth Saucer, who grows peanuts and other row crops in Monroe County with her husband Scott. “My favorite part of growing peanuts is when Scott and I go out to the field and the peanuts are just right for boiling — we pull up three or four bushels and boil them right there on the farm.”
Of course, boiling isn’t the only way to enjoy peanuts. Put them in desserts, toppings, main dishes, snack mixes and more. Even though her husband spends countless hours harvesting peanuts, Elizabeth said he can’t get enough of them.
“He’ll finish the harvest and say, ‘I don’t ever want to see a peanut again,’ but then before long, he’s asking me where the roasted peanuts are,” Elizabeth said. “Any kind of desserts or sweets we have in the house, if it doesn’t have peanuts or peanut butter in it already, he’s getting out the peanuts and adding them to it.”
Elizabeth and Scott, who serves on the Monroe County Farmers Federation Board of Directors, have been married since 2013 after meeting in Elizabeth’s grandparents’ Frisco City parts store.
“He buys a lot of his hydraulic hoses and bolts and stuff from them, and he was in the store one day when I happened to be there on my lunch break,” she said. “Ironically, my other grandmother wanted to find me a guy, and she had seen an article about Scott in her Neighbors magazine. She told me I needed to meet him.”
Before they met, Elizabeth had no farm experience.
“I knew absolutely nothing about agriculture until I married Scott,” she said. “That first year of marriage, we had corn, soybeans, cotton, peanuts and wheat all in the same year, so I spent that year riding the tractor. We’d get up in the middle of the night to irrigate corn.”
Four years and a baby later, Elizabeth wouldn’t have it any other way. Their daughter, Caroline, turned a year old in January.
“I love life on the farm,” she said. “I went from wanting to be a city girl in a townhouse apartment to loving country life and wanting a bunch of animals and a ranch.”