I love edamame and decided to grow it last year. What I discovered is not only do I love it, so did my neighborhood ground hog. He thought the leaves were delish. So delish that he single handedly killed my plants. (Note, deer love the leaves too.)
Without the leaves, plants can’t grow. Worse yet, the pods weren’t far enough along to survive. It was a sad day in Annaville.
Why I Grew Edamame
But why grow edamame rather than ordinary soy beans? Edamame looks like a darker green Lima bean but tastes better. The pods look like pea pods but larger. The beauty of this bean, is you can simply pop the bean into your mouth from the cooked pod.
In addition, according to The National Soybean Research Laboratory at the University of Illinois, edamame is a complete protein. The NSRL states:
“[t]his means that they have all the essential amino acids your body needs. Unlike other complete-protein foods, such as eggs or meat, edamame have no cholesterol and very little saturated fat. They are low in sodium. Recommended daily allowance (RDA) percentages may vary slightly by cultivar (and by frozen brand), however generally edamame are high in vitamin C, K, manganese and folate, and are a good source of dietary fiber, iron, calcium, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus and copper (www.nutritiondata.com, caloriecount.about.com).”
In addition, the NSRL states that there are no genetically engineered edamame seeds, and they can’t cross pollinate with GM soybeans. Plus, the beauty of edamame they can be eaten fresh and therefore are more digestible “as the complex carbohydrates that occur in mature seeds have not yet formed.”
Outsmarting the Ground Hog
A little history first:
As many of you know, I have two vegetable gardens. The original vegetable garden has a fence around it where the fence extends 2 feet underground. Garden #1 was the original garden. Then the garden bug bite me, and along came nine heirloom apple trees and two peach trees. After the deer almost killed my apple trees, we install a fence around the entire garden. Had I won the NY Lottery, I could have dug 2 feet below ground to install metal fencing which would prevent any critter from digging into the garden. Well, that didn’t happen and I take my chance with the critter digging under the fence.
So how did the ground hog get in if he didn’t dig?
Unfortunately, as I learned, ground hogs climb as well as dig. And I offered him a really nice tree so he could literally jump into my garden. Aren’t I nice?
(See a picture here of how open veggie garden #2.)
How to fool the ground hog? Put the edamame in the first protected veggie garden #1. The fence around that garden is pretty wobbly so it can’t hold a critter’s weight. So, they can’t climb, I hope.
I waited until fear of frost was gone and planted the seeds. (Three inches apart in rows of 15 inches apart.) They sprouted easily and there was no signs of the ground hog. But as you all know the weather in the northeast has been horrible. Cold spring, wet summer, then hot as heck summer, and now a hurricane coming. Mother Earth, can’t you make it easy on me just one growing season?
Just in case I made you seem that growing edamame is a walk on the beach, Washington State University Clark Extension states.
“[e]damame is susceptible to the same diseases as most bush beans, but with a little care these are easily prevented. Avoid wetting the foliage to prevent powdery mildew. Rotate your crops to avoid soil-borne diseases and the depletion of specific soil nutrients. Potential pests include cucumber beetles, bean weevils, and Mexican bean beetle. Inspect your plants often and prevent any of these pests from getting out of control. Slugs and birds love the tender shoots as they emerge from the ground. Bait for slugs and use a row cover to protect the young plants from birds. If you live in deer country, don’t even think about planting edamame anywhere except inside a tall sturdy fence.”
Learn more about the Mexican bean beetle HERE.
I waited and waited, and finally the pods appeared. The plants were about two feet high and resembled other bean plants that I grew. Oddly, the pods were hairy. The ones I ate at my sister’s house were clean shaven. What gives?
When to Harvest:
You should harvest the pods when they are bright green and the beans in the pods are touching. In addition, the leaves start to yellow as well. (See above.) My pods already started to brown as if they were drying. In addition, the pods weren’t as big as I had hoped. I think weather played a big part in my so so harvest.
Note, that when one pod on a plant is ready to harvest, all the pods are ready on that plant. There is about a 2 week window before the pods start to yellow. However, you can let them dry on the plant and use them as a dried bean.
I blanched them for about 2 minutes to keep their color. The bean freezes well. (Note, my idea of blanching ends up cooking them. ) Alternatively, you can steam them or cook them in boiling water for five to 10 minutes. (Personally, I think five minutes is enough. You look to see if the pod is slightly opening.) Some people salt them. Again, I don’t think the bean needs salt.
Then simply cool them, and open the pod and pop this green goodness into your mouth. I found the pod too fibrous to eat.
The pods? They are yummy! So, for all of you “I hate Lima beans people” out there, use edamame instead of Lima beans in your recipe. You really can’t tell the difference.
Join the Conversation
- Do you like eating edamame beans?
- Have you ever grown them? What has your experience been?
- Do you hate lima beans?
- How do you like to use edamame in your recipes?