Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce
Give Fresh Green Soybeans a Taste Test
Karma Metzgar, C.F.C.S. Former Northwest Regional Nutrition Specialist, Nodaway County Extension Center, University of Missouri Extension
Recently a friend and extension user came into my office
and shared her frustration in not being able to buy
“edamame” at the farmer’s market. Pronounced “Ed a ma may,”
it is really green soybeans. Knowing there is a window of
opportunity to picking the green fuzzy pods, I explored the
taste testing opportunity with her promptly. She also
suggested that I write about edamame.
First, I asked my husband to bring me some green pods
from the field so I could see if they were at the right
picking stage. His comment to me was that these will be a
bear to shell! I tried to pop them open like peas and
decided that there would be sore fingers soon and there must
be a better method for shelling. There is, according to my
friend - steaming or blanching.
With my curiosity of the green soybean taste and cooking
method, and my friend’s curiosity about how soybeans grow
and are picked (and if there are chiggers), we set a date to
go pick and sample some green soybeans. I also quizzed Keith
Hawxby, Regional Extension Horticulture Specialist, about
edamame and he said they actually have a special variety
growing at the Graves Research Farm at Corning. The pods are
longer with larger beans than regular field soybeans.
They have a milder flavored but similar taste.
Then I went to my file and checked out this specialty
crop through other extension sites. Here’s some information
you can use if you want to give green soybeans a try -
you’ll need to act promptly because as soon as the plants
begin to dry, they are no longer green soybeans.
For fresh green soybeans, harvest when the pods are
bright green and plump. Each pod may contain between two to
To prepare fresh soybeans for shelling, cover with
boiling water and let stand 5 minutes - similar to a
blanching step for other vegetables. Drain and cool.
Steaming is also an option. Break the pods crosswise and
squeeze out the beans. My friend shares that she likes the
edamame as an appetizer. In Japan, pods are boiled in salted
water and the beans are squeezed from the pod directly into
the mouth and the pods discarded. My friend cautions to not
eat too many at a time - green soybeans can cause flatulence
like other dry beans and peas.
Cooked fresh soybeans are similar to green peas or lima
beans in color and flavor, but have a firmer texture. They
are not soft or mealy. They can be eaten plain or seasoned,
or used in dishes calling for peas or lima beans. Adding
them to stir-fry also is an option I’m anxious to try. If
you have access to growing soybeans (no trespassing please),
give green soybeans a try. We have culture right here in
Fresh soybeans must be used as soon as possible to
maintain optimum quality. If they must be stored,
refrigerate them in covered containers. Shelled soybeans may
be frozen to extend their use over a longer period of time.
Edamame is great tasting and good for you. A one-half cup
serving of Edamame (or green soybeans) provides 11 grams of
protein (50 grams is the Daily Value goal), and is rich in
calcium, vitamin A and phytoestrogens (plant-produced
In my browsing of extension information on edamame, there are many varieties which have different characteristics - some with light colored beans and some dark. If you want to try a true edamame variety in your garden next year, a Pacific Northwest Extension Publication (PNW0525) with seed sources is available online at: http://cru.cahe.wsu.edu/CEPublications/pnw0525/pnw0525.pdf.
Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009