Prep: 5 minutes; Soak: 8 hours; Cook: 5 hours; Cool: 1 hour.
1. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt in 2 gallons water in a 3-gallon stockpot; add peanuts. (Weigh down peanuts, if desired, with a large plate or lid to ensure they're fully submerged.) Soak 8 hours or overnight.*
2. Drain water; refill pot with 2 gallons water and remaining 1 cup salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 5 to 8 hours or until peanuts are tender, adding water as needed to keep peanuts covered; stir occasionally. (South Carolina-style peanuts are very soft, but some cooks prefer them al dente.) When the peanuts have boiled 3 hours, check for texture and saltiness. If the peanuts are not salty enough, add salt in 1/4-cup increments, turn off heat, and let soak 1 hour. Check peanuts for seasoning every hour.
3. Remove from heat, and cool 1 hour.
4. Drain and eat immediately or store (in the shell) in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer. Boiled peanuts will keep 7 days in the refrigerator, several months in the freezer.
*The soaking step is not essential, but it reduces the cooking time by a couple of hours and helps ensure that the peanuts cook more thoroughly and uniformly. The salt in the soaking liquid keeps yeasts and molds from developing overnight.
Reprinted from The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook by Matt Lee and Ted Lee. Copyright 2006 by Martens Maxwell, Inc. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.