‘Peanut roasters’ may be new market

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 9, 2001

Features Editor

A new company in Selma is going to test the consumer’s appetite for quick, hot peanuts. If the country has a taste for them, that could mean a bigger market for the little nut that has helped sustain the economy of South Alabama for more than 100 years.

The company, Microwave Roasters, started about three months ago and brings a unique, patented process to the mass market that enables consumers to have the freshest, tastiest peanuts in their home microwave ovens in three minutes or less.

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The process of microwave-roasting raw, pre-salted, in-shell peanuts was developed and patented by Rickey Childress of Fairhope in 1999.

The process has been perfected to the point where the product can be brought to world markets by Microwave Roasters, Inc. of Selma, owned by Steve Grossman.

"There is nothing as good as fresh, roasted peanuts," Grossman said. "What we have succeeded in doing is making fresh, roasted peanuts available to the consumer on demand. When you roast peanuts, they are at their peak of freshness and goodness the minute they come out of the roaster. The minute after roasting, deterioration of the oils in the peanuts begins and the flavor goes with it. When you buy packaged roasted peanuts, there is no telling how long they have been out of the roaster and how much of the ‘just roasted’ flavor has been lost."

Grossman also said home roasting for that fresh taste takes an hour or more and people, today, want instant gratification.

"That’s what we are prepared to give them with Peanut Roasters," he said. "Peanuts can maintain their freshness for a year or more in the raw state. However, after roasting,

oil deterioration begins and the taste difference is evident. Our peanuts are pre-salted but raw, so they remain fresh right up to the moment of roasting. Just as you pop a bag of popcorn in the microwave, so, will


be able to ‘pop in’ a bag of peanuts for roasting."

Grossman said he is excited about the possibilities of the new product, which could have a "considerable" impact on the local peanut market once the saline processing can be done on-site.

"I’m embarrassed to say that, right now, we are having the peanuts processed in New Mexico," he said. "The peanuts are soaked in a saline solution in a huge vat. Then, a vacuum process pulls the saline solution inside the shell so the nut is salted. A vacuum process pulls the solution out again, leaving the nut raw, but salted, which makes for the most delicious, roasted peanut anywhere.

"When we can process the peanut here in Alabama, we will be able to buy our peanuts locally and that should provide an additional market for our peanut farmers here in Alabama."

Peanut Roasters come in 3-ounce and 9-ounce sizes and should be available locally after the first of the year.