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Edamame – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Last Updated: Feb 25, 2022

What is edamame?

Edamame, which can be purchased fresh or frozen, in or out of pods, are immature (green) soybeans. While edamame may seem like a fresh vegetable, it’s actually a legume. It’s similar to string beans in this way. Regardless of its food category, edamame can be cooked in a variety of ways, both in and out of its pod. Boil, steam, pan sear, stir fry, or even microwave edamame, and then sprinkle on some salt, making it a super easy snack or appetizer.

Where did edamame originate from?

Edamame originated in China over 7000 years ago. However, the word “edamame” actually comes from Japan. It translates to “stem beans” because edamame was often sold still attached to the stem on which it grew. In China during the 1400s, people often ate the leaves and pods of edamame due to famine or ground up the beans to use as flour. You might have heard of buckwheat flour or chickpea flour. But have you ever heard of soybean (edamame) flour?

In the mid-1800s, edamame was first introduced to the United States, where it quickly became known as the “soybean.” Because of the difficulties farmers had shelling the beans, edamame was often sold and eaten straight out of the pods. However, it wasn’t until the organic food movement took off that edamame became widely known in the U.S.

What is the nutritional value of edamame?

Edamame is incredibly nutritious, according to the USDA’s Food Data Central. In a cup of shelled and prepared edamame, there is over 18g of protein and only 188 calories. Now that’s a cup of shelled edamame, so imagine a large bowl of edamame, still in their shell (with three or four beans in each pod) and sprinkled with salt and your favorite spices. What you have is essentially a high protein and nutrient-heavy alternative to chips that take a while to eat, making them the perfect afternoon snack.

How do you eat edamame?

They are typically served with East Asian cuisine cooked in their pods with salt sprinkled on top. To eat edamame, simply pick up a pod and suck out the soybeans, discarding the pod when finished.

How is edamame grown?

The soybean plant has a large central stem with leaves and smaller stems as offshoots. On these stems, soybeans hang down in their pods. To be classed as edamame, the soybeans need to be in their green stage, so they are picked by hand before they fully ripen. When picked at this stage of growth, the beans have a higher sucrose level and more amino acids than they would have after fully ripening, which contributes to their flavor.

When is edamame in season?

Edamame is typically planted in late spring and harvested from July through mid-October, depending on the climate. However, because seasons change around the world, to tell if edamame is in season, consider where it’s coming from and what the season is there. Typically, edamame is in season during the late summer months and makes for fantastic fresh produce.

How to store edamame

Because edamame experiences flavor loss so quickly, fresh edamame should really be eaten within 24 to 48 hours of purchasing. To store fresh edamame between purchasing and eating, keep your edamame in the fridge after patting the beans dry and storing them in an airtight container.

If you absolutely have to prepare in advance, it may be better to purchase frozen, cooked edamame and keep it frozen. Thawing and refreezing will leave you with bland and sometimes dry beans. Altnertiavely, purchase fresh edamame and freeze it yourself. First, boil or blanch the edamame. If you simply freeze raw edamame, it will still continue to ripen due to a special enzyme called polyphenol oxidase. Frozen edamame will last about 3 months in the freezer before experiencing freezer burn.

How to tell if edamame is bad

You can tell if your edamame has gone bad by the color. Fresh edamame is a vibrant green, both on the shell and the beans. If the edamame is starting to look discolored and pale or has black or brown spots, the edamame has gone bad and should not be eaten.

Edamame is delicate after being picked, and because it begins to lose its flavor quite quickly, the pods should be handled with care to prevent further loss of flavor. Treat your edamame as you would a loaf of bread or fresh peaches and keep them on top of other produce. Damage to the shells will cause further loss of flavor and can quickly make the beans go bad.

What to look for when buying edamame

When purchasing edamame, it’s important to look for plump, green, and fuzzy pods. This means that the soybeans inside will be bursting with flavor. If the pods are brown or black, the edamame is probably over-mature and won’t taste as nice due to the lack of sucrose. If the pods are fuzzy and green but flat, it’s still best to find another pack because the beans inside will be small and unsatisfying. Additionally, you can tell the quality of edamame by lightly squeeze the pods. If any water or slimy substances come out, find a different pack of edamame.

If you are looking to have your groceries delivered, you can easily shop for edamame via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products. Shop for edamame.

What can I substitute for edamame?

If you need a quick substitute for fresh or frozen edamame, you’re in luck! Here are a few substitutes for edamame that work well depending on the dish:

  • Green peas
  • Fresh fava beans
  • Fresh lima beans
  • Sugar snap peas (great for stir fry replacement)
  • Cooked black-eyed peas

Start cooking with edamame

With such great nutritional benefits, edamame is a tasty and healthy snack that should be on your weekly shopping list. Get fresh edamame delivered to you today with Instacart!

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