Peanuts, also known as ground nuts, are considered a legume and are thought to have first been cultivated in Peru, since the earliest remnants of the plant were discovered there some 7.5 Millennia ago. From there, the cultivation spread through parts of Europe and even Asia. Ironically, though, it did not gain in popularity in the United States until it was introduced to the country by Africa after it had been brought there from Brazil by Portuguese travelers around the 19th century. It is an annual herbaceous plant that can grow to over 1.5 feet in height if planted in light, sandy loam soil.
Peanuts are, perhaps, most familiar as an element in Asian cooking. This includes peanut oil, which has a high smoke point so it is more appropriate for things like stir fry. This makes the most sense since China leads the world’s peanut production by a significant margin. However, in the west, peanuts are consumed more in their raw form or in processed form. This can include peanut butter but also candies and other snack products. Actually, boiled peanuts are enjoyed commonly in many places all over the world.
Peanuts are so popular that they are even used in drinks. You will commonly find peanut butter as a main ingredient in some homemade protein shake recipes, but there are also other commercial drinks which use the legume. There is even a peanut-based punch that is very popular in Jamaica, apparently. One of the most practical, yet seemingly unusual uses for peanuts is that it is possible to reduce them down into a lactose-free beverage that is similar to milk. This is actually a property that is shared by both members of the legume and grain family, allowing for a variety of milk substitutes depending on personal preferences and allergies.