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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 four beans.

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 Northwest Missouri!

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 estrogens).

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:






Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009




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