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Web links on Peanut [Arachis hypogaea L.

Compiled by Rolfe Leary

Compatible Technology International
St. Paul, MN


The Ethnobotany of the peanut is discussed in:

Peanut plant anatomy:

If you don’t know what peanut plants look like and how they grow, a simplified peanut plant anatomy is
given at:

Peanut as a food crop:

Nutritional analysis of 61 different foods made from peanut/groundnut is available in:

The US AID supported Collaborative Research Program on Peanuts, Centered at University of Georgia,
Griffin, is concerned with peanuts world-wide. Most emphasis is on biology of production, but some on
utilization. Visit them at:
or at

IDRC (International Development Research Center) is a Canadian international aid

organization that has funded several projects focused on post harvest operations in peanuts. You will
need to do a search on “groundnuts”; also search on ‘peanuts’. A summary report of important IDRC
work in Thailand is at: For additional links, do a
Google search on “IDRC groundnut Thailand”.

A brief description of George Washington Carver’s life and research on peanuts can be found here: and .

Intermediate Technology Development Group (United Kingdom) has produced a Technical Brief on the
several steps in groundnut processing. To download a 5 page pdf file on peanut butter go to and scroll down to ‘groundnut processing’.
Particularly useful in this document is the list of potential sources of equipment, including sources in
Asia, India in particular.

Growing peanuts:

Pods are shelled and nuts planted whole. Planting can be done with a simple ‘jab seeder’. One
is described at: Planting can also
be done with a mechanized plate planter pulled by tractor, horse, or oxen. An ox drawn planter
is available from Zimplow Ltd., PO Box 1059, Steelworks Road, Steeldale, Bulawayo,


Weeding is often done by hand hoeing because in Africa peanuts are sometimes not planted in
rows. If peanuts are planted in approximately uniformly spaced rows, animal drawn cultivators
can be used for mechanized weeding (see Zimplow link). The importance of hand tools for
weeding and soil preparation in 5 African nations is discussed in: The full
report can be downloaded at:


Peanuts plants must have soil added near the plant base so that developing nuts are always below
the ground surface. Ridging can be done by hand with a hoe or by a ridging plow pulled by
tractor, horse, or oxen, but only if the peanuts were planted in rows. Animal drawn ridgers are
made and sold by Zimplow Ltd .


Lifting entails removing the plant from the ground without leaving too many pods underground
due to pegs being broken in the lifting process. Mechanized lifting leaves the whole plant on top
of the ground for air drying. Lifting can also be done by hand – especially if the ground is moist
– or it can be done with a machine pulled by tractor, horse, or oxen. CeCoCo, Japan, makes a
lifter pulled by a bull and guided by one person. See it at:

Field drying:

In the old days drying was done in the field by stacking the lifted peanut plant around poles set
up in the field. See an interesting picture at:

Post harvest processing:


The first processing step after lifting and drying is to remove the pods from the remainder of the
plant – an operation called stripping. Issues with stripping are covered in:

Sizing groundnut pods

Mechanical shellers work more efficiently if pods are sorted by size before being placed in the
sheller. Sizing techniques vary, but an effective principle is to use diverging rollers that create a
continuously increasing gap between the rollers. By inclining the rollers at about 20 degrees to
horizontal and rotating the right roller clockwise and left counter clockwise, a lifting action is
exerted on the pods, causing them to float down the incline until the gap between rollers exceeds
their largest diameter. Pods then fall through the gap into collection bins for each size group.
Sizing pods prior to shelling has been shown to increase the fraction of unbroken kernels when
shelled. Sizers of this type are easily constructed from inexpensive materials and can be
powered by hand cranking to size 75 pounds per hour. By adding another set of rollers,
production can be doubled. It takes little energy to move the pods down the incline (see [clicking this link takes
you to a “download pdf document” point, rather than to the CTI website. All other “device”
options take you to the CTI website first and then to a “download pdf document” option??].
Powered sizers have also been developed. See one by going to:

Shelling / Dehulling / Decorticating

Once the pods reach about 12% moisture, they can be shelled (also called decorticating and
dehulling). Peanut shelling is very tedious, especially if done by hand. IDRC funded an
extensive study of different AT designs for mechanized peanut shellers [go to]. One of the best designs from their study in
Thailand is the rubber tired sheller. Other designs include the tray sheller from Malawi and the AT (Appropriate Technology)
sheller (see Zimplow link for details on the AT design).
Further information on shellers developed in India and elsewhere can be found at: [broken]. Do a search on
“Groundnut processing”. Even more information on shellers is available on the AT CDROM
library, disk 6. Be certain to do searches on ‘shelling’, ‘decorticating’, and ‘dehulling’.
Terminology isn’t shared. A promising new design based on a vertical axis hand cranked
machine with rotating cone inside a stator shows unusual promise. The unit, fabricated from cast
concrete, works on the principle of rolling and squeezing the pods to a ‘pinch circle’. See it at:
The original Fullybelly sheller has been redesigned to be made from less expensive forms
(plastic buckets rather than fiberglass molds). See it at:


When shelling is done by hand, the pods typically are removed in two halves. When shelling is
mechanized, the pods are normally broken in many pieces – large and small. Some larger
mechanized shellers have fans that accomplish the separation of nuts from broken shells in a
single operation. However, an intermediate step of winnowing is often required. Winnowing
can be done by hand with a winnowing basket or the winnower can by a separate unit. Here is a
link to the Full Belly sheller with winnowing fan attached provided by Toddler Food Partners:
The winnowing fan design is not shown in this YouTube video, but it is made entirely from
portions of a metal drum cut into pieces and then welded back together to form a fan. Very
ingenious!! [Have image, will share. ral]
Here is a YouTube link showing the winnower at work with the sheller in the Phillippines:


Roasting peanuts requires nut temperature to be raised to about 325F for about 20 minutes.
Roasting can be done in the shell or after shelling. Traditional roasting methods are stirring in
the ‘black pot on three rocks’. Other technologies involve propane heated rotating drums (see
equipment section of a search on “groundnut processing” at
An excellent drum roaster for in-the-shell roasting has been developed in Guyana, SA, and can
be seen at: [add link to Jerry La Gra’s information for Guyana]

There are also solar-based systems – either as a parabolic dish or parabolic trough
( ). Because of the relatively high temperatures required for
roasting, most solar devices are of the concentrating type – requiring a solar energy
concentration factor of about 6 to reach the desired roasting temperature. An aid to designing a
parabolic trough solar concentrator is available here:


Following roasting, peanut skins will have turned from a pinkish color to a dark red. Typically
the nuts have lost sufficient moisture that the skins will be loose and flaky. The skins can be
removed simply by rubbing the nuts between two hands. An added step of winnowing the skins
from roasted peanuts may be required. At the University of Zimbabwe, roasted nuts are run
through a CTI Omega VI grinder with the burrs set wide apart, so that nuts are simply rubbed
and rolled as they exit between the burrs into a long sloping trough. At the lower end of the
trough a standard radial floor fan blows away the parched skin fragments.

Following skin removal, peanuts should be checked for color. Any dark colored nuts should be
removed and destroyed, as they may contain elevated levels of the fungus that produces

Grinding roasted peanuts into peanut butter and/or groundnut sauce:

Roasted peanuts can be ground into peanut butter, or if ground more finely, into peanut sauce.
Peanut sauce is used as a topping to be eaten with other foods. Traditionally, groundnut sauce
was produced in a 2-step process – crush nuts into a paste in a mortar and pestle, and then place
the paste between two rocks and ‘work’ the paste between the rocks until it is creamy. Burr
grinders or plate mills allow the two steps to be accomplished in a single pass.

Compatible Technology International (select “Technologies”) has developed two grinders

suitable for making peanut butter / peanut sauce: Omega and Ewing grinder. See the Omega at: [Select ‘Our Technology Program’ and then ‘Food processing
Devices’.] Each has bearings and can be hand cranked or motor driven. Each has hardened steel
burrs for long service life. Further information is available on the CTI website. CTI introduced
the Omega grinder into Zimbabwe where it is now manufactured by Tanroy Engineering, Harare.
CTI also introduced the Ewing burr grinder into Uganda where it is now manufactured by JBT
Engineering, Makere Road, P.O. Box 11091, Kampala, Phone: (256)-77- 502709/532861.

The Porkert 150 grinder: [broken -- Porkert declared

Bankruptcy in 2007 or 8.] is a small plate mill with cast iron burrs and no bearings. It is very
similar to the Corona grinder and is best suited for a single family household.

Practical Action has a description of their program to introduce electric grinders in Southern
Africa to produce peanut butter:

Other peanut grinders can be found on the FAO database of post-harvest equipment link below.

Grinding roasted peanuts into flour:

Roasted groundnuts can be ground in such a way as to produce ‘flour’ rather than paste. A flour-
type material is produced by processing nuts through a roller mill wherein rollers have fluted
surfaces, rather than processing into paste as is typically done with a burr mill (like CTI Omega
or Ewing, or Porkert or Corona). Here is a description of small roller mill processing of roasted

Rosskamp mfg, a firm in Waterloo, Iowa, is one of the world’s largest producers of roller mills.


ITDG Food Chain magazine, Number 30, June 2002, has an excellent article on peanut butter
processing, including seldom found information on adding stabilizers to the product to extend
shelf life. Download Issue #30 in pdf format at:

ITDG also has a wealth of useful information on packaging on their website. Check it out at:

CTI Volunteer David Elton has devised a soft food dispenser that allows users of a burr grinder
to deliver peanut butter directly into a container with small opening – e.g., a 375 ml plastic or
glass jar. No intermediate handling with spatula is required. Pictures of the dispenser, and steps
to fabricate one, will be available soon at:

North American peanut production equipment:

A brief overview of mechanized peanut production in North America can be found at: [broken]

FAO database of post-harvest processing equipment:

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has assembled an extensive database of
post harvest agricultural equipment at [strange navigation site].

Postharvest information in general:

IITA (International Institute of Tropical Agriculture) []

regularly publishes a newsletter on postharvest issues for many tropical crops.

Gender and agricultural production:

Women perform most of the production agriculture labor in developing countries. An interesting report
of existing (base-line) technologies and ‘next step’ improved technologies is given at: (this link appears to be broken 3/10/06)

Note: This material has been assembled over the past several years by Dr. Rolfe A. Leary, Compatible
Technology International, St. Paul, MN. It may be freely distributed. If you have information that you
feel should be added, please send it to me at: If you find information in error,
your corrections will be welcomed as well. Best regards, Rolfe A. Leary. (last updated February, 2007)