You are in one of your favorite japanese restaurants and they bring out what looks like green peas stuck in a rather large shell. Your friend plops the whole thing in his mouth and chews…chews…and chews some more. He asks you through the jumble of edamame pods that are now rolling about in his mouth “are edamame pods edible?”. You – because you read this blog post – know the answer. No, you do not want to eat them.
Technically you can, and the edamame shells are not poisonous, but you will take on the same experience as a cow chewing cud – meaning it will take a LONG time to chew down. And then, it might take an even longer time to pass through your digestive system. The pods have a very tough texture and there are plenty of other fiber-rich foods in this world to enjoy – including the edamame seeds – that I would not trouble yourself with consuming this item.
Keep reading to discover some enticing ways to prepare and feast upon edamame. Want to start growing it yourself? At the end, we will give you a quick and dirty micro guide on growing this popular green bean. Nothing like the fresh stuff!
Finally, some background info to kickstart this party…
Some Background Info
A popular plant in Asian countries this nutty little bean is burrowing into the hearts of Americans. You can find it in the United States most likely being sold in your favorite Japanese or sushi restaurant. When you consume edamame, you are actually eating immature soybeans. The dry beans are used in other soy products like soy milk or tofu.
The young, inner bean is very nutritious. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, I highly recommend incorporating this wonder bean into your diet. Look down below at the health benefits to see why I have such respect for this vegetable. Meat eaters, if you are looking for a light meal, this can pack a protein punch with a texture that leaves you feeling full and satisfied. It’s a bean for the people.
Preparing the Pods For Cooking
Tips For Harvesting the Pods
If you happen to be growing edamame or convinced your friend with the green thumb to let you have some of theirs this section is for you. Again, you want to harvest them when they are immature beans. This means the pods and beans will still be bright green.
You are going to harvest when the hairy small pod is about 80-90% filled out (roughly 2-3 inches long). Do you best to guesstimate this if it is your first time harvesting. You’ll know you waited too long if the pod turned yellow and the bean is white.
Harvest in the evening when the weather is cool – that’s more to have a pleasant experience than anything else. Cut the pods off to prevent infection to the plant.
Do not eat raw soybeans. See why in Kitchen Prep.
*Food Safety Tip* – It is generally advised to cook the beans before eating them. Consuming raw edamame can cause severe digestive distress. Better safe than sorry with this bean and I say don’t chance it.
If you have the fresh pod you can cook them as is or remove the bean from the shell before cooking. This legume does not require long periods of soaking like other beans and can usually be cooked in 5-10 minutes. Depending on the recipe, you can do the following:
- Boil the fresh pods in salted water
- Steam with an inch of water in a steamer
- Microwave frozen beans to at least room temperature and add them to your favorite dishes
- Pan sear the beans on the stove
Store any leftover edamame in a container and freeze. Glass pyrex containers do well for this, but you can also use plastic bags if these are unavailable. Fresh pods will remain good in the fridge for up to a week.
- Hint of sweetness
- Nutty flavor
- Buttery in texture
- They make for a delicious snack when cooked in the pod of edamame and then sprinkled with sea salt, black pepper, soy sauce or other seasoning. You can savor the seasoning before using your front teeth to cut into the side of the pod and plop the bean in your mouth. Compost leftover edamame skin after enjoying your tasty snack.
- Unshelled edamame is incredibly versatile. These green soybeans can be used in pasta, soups, stir fries, and quiches to name a few.
- For another healthy snack, toss the beans with olive oil and other seasonings; then roast them in the oven. The dried version is great for an on the go snack.
There is an edamame recipe out there for everyone! (Unless you’re allergic to soy of course). Keep trying new recipes and let us know if you discover any that you can’t stop eating!
Health Benefits of Edamame
The wonders of edamame are staggering. Packed into that tiny little bean is a whole host of benefits that you can gain by consuming it on a regular basis – in an appropriate amount. And it tastes delicious so it’s not hard to find ways to sneak a little in every day. Let’s take a look at some top benefits they offer.
- All 9 essential amino acids – One of the few vegetables that offers this making it an awesome option for vegetarians and vegans looking for a complete protein source. Speaking of protein…
- Edamame boasts 18.4 grams of protein and 8.08 grams of dietary fiber per 1 cup. The fiber can help keep your digestive tract “flowing” if you catch my drift. This soy protein can be your ally if consumed in moderate amounts.
- Other Key Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Calcium (may help reduce bone loss), Folate, Copper, Phosphorous, Potassium, Thiamine, Riboflavin [ 1 ]
- May lower cholesterol levels which may reduce the risk of heart disease [ 2 ]
Note: Some people have a soy allergy which can cause digestive problems and other mild side effects. For several individuals, effects are more severe and intake should be withheld. If this includes you, avoid edamame and other soy foods.
Grow Your Own Edamame
Here is your micro guide to growing edamame. Learn the basics of what you need and see if you have the right environment for growing fresh edamame. Frozen vegetables from the grocery store come in plastic bags (which may leach chemicals into your food) and may not maintain the high quality you are looking to consume.
The best way to ensure you are eating top quality food is to grow it yourself. Plus, you can choose the type of soybean you’d like to grow based on the characteristics that work for you.
Where and When to Grow?
Choose a place with full sun. You need 6-8 hours of daylight. That could mean in the ground or in a container pot that is at least 8-12 inches wide and deep. The plants can grow up to three feet tall.
This is a warm season crop and is daylight dependent. Different varieties require varying daylight times, so be sure to look up your variety. In general, you want to wait until after your last spring frost to sow or transplant to ensure a healthy crop.
Feed the Plant
Adding compost when planting and then amending it with some more a few months later in the season, should be enough for these little beans. Edamame isn’t too picky and can thrive even in poor soil.
As a nitrogen fixing plant, they actually help fertilize the soil after the plant has passed. An added bonus you gain from growing these vegetables.
Even though this is a warm season crop, monitor its water intake. If the plant gets too warm or not enough water, the leaves will wilt. Water at least once a week, but watch the plants and they will give you signals on what they need.
Varieties of Edamame (Glycine max)
- ‘ Agate ’
- ‘ Black Jet ’
- ‘ Envy ’
- ‘ Early Hakucho ’
- ‘ Lanco ’
Some varieties take a long time to harvest. Be sure to choose one that take less time and less day length to reach maturity if you have short growing season.
Now you can tell your friend when he or she asks you “are edamame pods edible?”, yes, but only if you want to chew it like crazy. In reality, no, I would not choose to consume them. I hope this post enlightened you to this the beauty of this little bean and all the ways it can benefit you. Whether that be through flavor, your health, and even the health of your garden.
If you were curious about the edibility of edamame pods, you might also be interested in seeing if eggplant seeds are edible…Are they? You’ll find out in our article.
What cool ways do you use edamame? Let us know below!
Until next time, all the best to you.
[ 1 ] https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168411/nutrients
[ 2 ] Su, L., Mittal, R., Ramgobin, D., Jain, R., & Jain, R. (2021). Current Management Guidelines on Hyperlipidemia: The Silent Killer. Journal of lipids, 2021, 9883352. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/9883352
[ 3 ] Wu, J., Zeng, R., Huang, J., Li, X., Zhang, J., Ho, J. C., & Zheng, Y. (2016). Dietary Protein Sources and Incidence of Breast Cancer: A Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies. Nutrients, 8(11), 730. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu8110730
[ 4 ] Applegate, C. C., Rowles, J. L., Ranard, K. M., Jeon, S., & Erdman, J. W. (2018). Soy Consumption and the Risk of Prostate Cancer: An Updated Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Nutrients, 10(1), 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10010040