Age-Old Wisdom meets Modern Tools
How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Edamame (Soybeans)
Originally from East Asia, edamame is relatively new to North America—especially to home gardeners. Here’s how to plant and grow edamame in your garden!
Edamame is the name given to the immature soybean pod. Once edamame pods mature, harden, and dry, they are used to make soy milk and tofu. Edamame is usually steamed in water and then eaten by squeezing the beans out of its pod, popping directly into the mouth.
- Edamame requires a long growing season.
- Like bush beans, edamame grows from 1 to 3 feet tall and does not require staking.
- Plant in full sun in compost-enriched, well-drained soil when temperatures reach at least 60 degrees F.
- Set seeds 1 to 2 inches deep, 2 to 4 inches apart, in rows 2 feet apart.
- Stagger the sowing time. Plant again about 10 days after the first sowing for a second harvest.
- Thin seedlings to 6 inches apart when the plants are 4 inches tall.
- Apply mulch to control weeds and maintain moisture.
- Water regularly throughout the season and especially after flowers and pods appear.
- Weed shallowly to avoid disturbing the edamame plants’ roots.
- Edamame pods are ready to harvest when they are 2 to 3 inches long, bright green and plump. Snap or cut the pods off the plant. Do not tear the plant.
- Store fresh edamame in an airtight container or a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
- Blanched edamame can be frozen shelled or in the pods.
- Harvest dry soybeans when the plant and leaves are dry and brown and the seeds inside the pods rattle. Pull up the plants and hang them in a dark and dry area until the pods are completely dry.
- Store dried beans in an airtight container in a dark, cool and dry location.
- ‘Agate’: Early producer. Known for its buttery flavor.
- ‘Owens’: Small beans, high yield.
- ‘Envy’: A short-season favorite.
- ‘Manitoba Brown’: Adapted to northern climates. Rich taste.
- ‘Black Jet’: The medium-size beans are green when fresh and black when dry. Recommended for its rich flavor.
Wit & Wisdom
- During the Civil War, soldiers used dried soybeans as “coffee berries” to brew “coffee.”
- Edamame is a complete protein source. It is the only vegetable that contains all nine essential amino acids.
How to Eat Edamame
Boil the pods in salted water, about five to six minutes until tender.
Or, steam your edamame by placing an inch of water in a pot and bring it to a boil. Place the edamame in a steam basket or colander and cover the pot for five to ten minutes. Then salt as desired.
Once cooled enough, raise the edamame pod to your lips, squeeze the bean out of its salted pod, and pop it directly into the mouth!
Enjoy as a healthy snack. Or, add shelled edamame to salads, rice, pasta, and other dishes; it adds flavor, a bright green color, and low-fat protein.