The joys of edamame.

Edamame pods grow

Edamame growing in garden

Growing edamame plants are surprisingly easy.  Midori Giant, the edamame variety I have used and will plant again this year, I will give this plant a lot more space to improve its yield.  Also, I will remember to stagger the planting over a 3-4 week period.  This soybean is a winner.  In East Asia, the soybean has been used as a major source of protein.  Cooking this delightful and nutty favor pea is just as easy as it is to grow.  It is a high yielding plant with pea pods.  You can count on two to three peas in each pod.   Blanching these edible soybeans have proved the best method of storing them for later use.

This 2012 gardening season I will bundle harvested soybeans by cutting several stems, which can grow to 3 feet tall.  The next step is to bundle them together by tying the stems together as I saw done at Atkins Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. (I have since learned this harvesting method is the traditional Japanese method — cutting several plants off at the soil surface, and removing the leaves). Doing this eliminates the need to remove each pod from the stem, and is a better method of sharing edamame, while introducing friends to bouquet of this edible soy bean, so to speak.  Also, I will remember to thoroughly wash the stems before bringing them into the house.  This will greatly reduce the possibility of carrying bugs and particularly stink bugs into your home.

After blanching (without salt) 2-3 minutes in boiling water, followed by a dip in a cold bath to stop the cooking process, these edible soybeans are ready for the next step that is freezing.   I have several ZipLoc quartz-size bags ready to thaw and eat.  There several methods of preparing edamame.   On a  recent trip to Naples, Florida, I have discovered dried edamame.  I  like the crunch, but I want less salt.  Also, I missed the soft nutty texture of the blanched edamame.


Edamame ready for roasting with spices.

In addition, I have tried oven dried roasting edamame by drizzling olive oil, tossing to coat, then adding various spices — chili powder, dried basil, onion salt, ground cumin, paprika and black pepper, and also granulated garlic, but found this method  unappealing because it overpowers the soybeans nutty flavor, and renders the texture far less enjoyable.  So, roasting is out for me.

My ultimate goal is to enhance the soybeans’ flavor.  Smoking beans in their pods in my Cameron stove top smoker has proved an excellent choice for me.   Using either Hickory wood chips, or Cherry wood gives them an interesting flavor.  Also, it eliminates overpowering the flavor of the beans with other spices.  Smoking gives the bean a subtle smokey taste.  Determining the length of time to smoke is tricky, but generally stick to under 15 minutes in smoker over gas burner set to medium high.   I think the time is less for an electric range.  Still, this smoking process is subject to your preference.

After smoking them, just squeeze the beans right into your mouth and enjoy.  Add a few beans to your salads, soups, appetizers, or make a dip.   Do not eat the pod, albeit a shame to toss the pods completely away, but the fuzzy skin makes the pods unappealing to eat.  I will add the pods to my compost.  You have a better suggestion?

About Harold McCray

Artist in the kitchen enjoying my three passions: cooking, photography, and writing.
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