Over the years, many of our customers have written us with questions about HUBS and about peanuts in general. Many people are often surprised that they grow in the ground and not on trees. Peanuts are really not nuts at all, but legumes, an important rotation crop. Legumes are nitrogen-fixing plants which means they take nitrogen from the air and convert it into nitrogen compounds or plant nutrients in the soil.
In Southampton County, peanut crops are usually planted in May. As seeds are planted, the peanut embryo grows and sends down deep roots. As vines grow on top of the ground, tiny yellow flowers develop and form shoots called pegs that reach down into the ground. As many as 40 nitrogen-fixing legumes (peanuts) can grow on the plant underneath the ground. Peanuts grow best in hot, somewhat dry weather conditions, so the month of August is very critical.
Ready for HarvestBy late September or October, peanuts are ready to be "dug" or pulled up from the ground by special machinery. Harvesting the mature peanuts is a two-step process, the first of which is digging. In this step, the plant is pulled from the ground and turned upside down to expose the peanuts to the sun for a period of drying.
Once ready, specialized equipment moves along the rows and separates the peanuts from the vines. The peanuts are transferred from the combines to trailers where they are taken to cleaners/shellers for further processing.
Grading and Shelling
From the fields, the peanuts are taken to a cleaner or sheller who also determines the grade based on size and quality of the shells. They are divided into categories - from those that are crushed for oil, to those that are crushed into peanut butter, to those that are chosen for processing by HUBS. It is during this step that shells are removed leaving the peanuts covered in the red skin. A secondary step is blanching which is a process that removes these skins. It depends on the product being processed as to whether we purchase peanuts with or without the red skins.
Making the Grade
At Hubbard Peanut Company, only the largest of Virginia type peanuts are used. The grade we choose makes up only about 1-2% of the entire crop. We use the same special recipe for our home cooked peanuts that was developed almost 50 years ago in the Hubbard family kitchen. We've long since moved our operations out of the kitchen, but HUBS peanuts are still cooked with pride under the watchful eyes of family members.