Edamame, also popular as green vegetable soybeans, are raw, young, immature beans in the pod of a soybean plant. The beans are particularly popular in the East-Asian cuisine, especially in Japan, Korea, and China. These garden pea like bean pods quietly gaining popularity inside the USA as well as in some European counties recently.
Binomially, Edamame is same as soybean; an annual dicotyledonous plant belonging to the family of fabaceae (Leguminosae), in the genus, Glycine.
Scientific name: Glycine max. (L.) Merr.
|Edamame bean pods on soy plant.
Photo courtesy: acme.
Soybean is a very rapid-growing, small annual plant reaching about 2-3 feet in height. It flourishes in well drained sandy soil along with adequate moisture. Short stalked green pods cover the entire soy plant about 70 days after plantation. Young edamame pods feature about 1.5-2 inches long, swollen, straight or slightly curved, filled with single row of 2-5 light green, smooth seeds. If left, the seeds continue mature further, and dry in the pods.
Harvesting is generally done by handpicking individual pods. In Japan, the whole soy plant cut at soil surface or pulled off the soil, bundled in small bunches and dispatched for markets.
Boiled beans possess soft, creamy texture and delicately beany taste akin to that of lima or hyacinth beans.
Like wasabi, edamame beans uniquely represents Japanese culinary tradition. Green soybeans played a role as an important sources of plant protein. 100 g beans carry 110 calories and provide 10.25 g or 18% of daily recommended intake of protein.
Edamame carry moderate amounts of vitamins, minerals, fibers, and plant sterols.
Fresh edamame are an excellent source of folates. 100 grams of fresh beans carry 303 µg or 76% of folates. Folate, along with vitamin B-12, is one of the essential componenet of DNA synthesis and cell division. Consuption of diet adequate in folates around conception and during pregnancy time would help prevent neural-tube defects in the newborn baby.
Green soybeans are good sources of many B-complex vitamins, especially riboflavin, pyridoxine, thiamin (vitamin B-1), pantothenic acid, and niacin. Most of these vitamins work as co-enzymes in carbohydrate, protein, and fat metabolism.
Fresh beans contain moderate levels of vitamin-C (provides 9.7 mg or about 16% of DRI). Vitamin-C is a natural antioxidant. Studies suggest that it help prevent free radical injury, act as immune booster, and anti-inflammatory agent.
Furthermore, the beans indeed are one of ideal sources of minerals like calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, and magnesium. 100 g of fesh bens hold 26% DRI (daily recommended intake) of iron, 56% of magnesium, 36% of copper and 73% of manganese. Manganese used by the body as a co-factor for the powerful anti-oxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.
Fresh edamame beans in plant can be found in Japanese and other East-Asian markets. Inside the US, frozen pods in vacuum packs, or frozen shelled edamame beans can be available in the supermarkets. In Japan, entire soyplant with fresh pods cut at soil surface and sold in bundles.
Green soybeans have narrow harvesting period. Young, tender pods with full seeds just short of their peak maturity considered as the best quality. If left unharnessed at this stage, they continue to grow into dry soy seeds.
While buying fresh edamamebean pods from the local vegetable markets, look for green, just mature, plump, and firm pods. You may also purchase fresh or frozen beans from the grocery. Avoid sunken, yellow, shriveled pods as the beans convert their sugars into starch. As in other beans, fresh tender beans feature smooth, pale green color, but their color changes to white or cream yellow once they dried.
Once picked up, green soybeans should be used quickly since their sugar coverts to starch and seeds lose their biting, creamy texture and nutty flavor.
Once at home, if not used right away, keep them inside refrigerator where the pods stay fresh for 2-3 days.
In Japan, fresh edamame beans in pods boiled in light salted water served in a bowl as snack. To eat, peel the string, hold the pod in both hands, and then using thumb and index fingers, gently squeeze individual beans into the mouth. Then discard pod peel. As in lima beans, edamame too become flavorful once cooked.
|Boiled and salted edamame bean pods.
Photo courtesy: edvvc
Here are some serving tips:
Boiled edamame beans can be a great addition in green salads. Fresh, beans generally treated like other green beans like peas, lima, etc, as bean vegetables.
In Japan, Izakaya restaurants serve boiled edamame pods as appetizer with drinks.
Edamame beans can be added in stir-fries.
Edamame should always be cooked before eating. As in oter green beans like lima and hyacinth, raw edamames also carry many anti-nutritional substances, phytoestrogens and toxins which may affect he health adversely. Consumption of raw edamame beans may cause stomach upset, diarrhea and vomiting. Boiling in salt water for atleast 20 minutes elminates most of these toxins and make the beans flavorful. Additionally, avoid them if you are allergic to any soy products. (Medical disclaimer)
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