Peanut oil has long been used as a cheap frying oil. Bulk-produced in places such as the southern United States and China, it has little flavour and can be heated to high temperatures without burning. But now, entrepreneurial farmer Clay Oliver has started producing cold-pressed green-peanut oil – an altogether different product. Based in Georgia, USA, Oliver presses fresh green peanuts to produce a high-quality oil with a vibrant taste and buttery back notes, and local chefs can’t seem to get enough of it.
At McCrady’s, in Charleston, Sean Brock serves it in a dish of green peanuts with pureéd celery, and also as a seasoning, along with homemade black koji vinegar, for poached cobia, sliced matsutake mushrooms and chopped green peanuts, which he recently served to Beyoncé when he was the guest chef at Wolfgang Puck’s Hotel Bel-Air restaurant in Los Angeles.
Currently, Oliver presses the oil only in small batches, but he has plans to increase production and even offer different ‘terroirs’ by reviving the almost-extinct Carolina African runner peanut on his farm. The peanut is an integral ingredient in Southern cooking and, thanks to such innovations, the versatility of this humble legume finally looks set to garner the attention of a wider global audience.