Edamame (Japanese Soybean) Harvest

22 Feb

Today my friend Karen came round and we harvested the first crop of Edamame soybeans. I planted 2 crops in succession, and the leaves on the first lot had yellowed slightly, so I thought it was time.

The plants were very heavy bearing, but the pods were still not as fat and I hoped they would be. Still, I didn’t want to risk them getting old and tough, so out they came.

The stalks of the plants had gotten extremely thick – up to approximately 2cm or so? Much fatter than last year, and many more pods too. Perhaps that was a combination of full-sun position, an earlier planting and consistent rain throughout the season.

After I pulled out the plants the nodules on the roots were very obvious. Edamame being a legume, I hope they have fixed a lot of nitrogen into the soil.

I also saved some of the soil from around the root nodules to use as innoculant for the seeds next year. Hopefully this soil will contain lots of the beneficial bacteria that helps the soybeans germinate. I put the soil into a little ziplock bag and put it in the fridge.

My original seed packet that came from Green Harvest also came with inoculant, but as I used up the packet I used the last of the innoculant too.

We started working on stripping the plants of their pods, carefully setting aside the fattest of the three-seed pods for seed saving. We debated the merits of saving the best overall pods or the pods from the best of the plants, but I lost track and just saved the best pods in the end. I’ll set them aside to dry out. I’m very glad I had Karen’s help, because there were a lot of pods to strip!

In the end we had 2.5 kilograms of edamame pods. I didn’t bother harvesting the undeveloped pods or the few that were insect-damaged, so this was 2.5 kilos of usable edamame – all ready for blanching and freezing. I’m pretty pleased with that, I must say!

Tonight for dinner I mixed up the menu plan and stuck with the Japanese theme:

Chilled Soba Noodles, dipping sauce, simmered green beans and sweet soy pumpkin

All recipes adapted from Cooking Class Japanese: Step by Step to perfect results by The Australian Women’s Weekly

Serves 4 adults, easily.

Chilled Soba

  • 250g dried soba noodles
  • 3/4 cup dashi stock (I used instant dashi granules)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 green onion, finely sliced
  • wasabi to taste
  • 1/2 toasted seaweed (nori) sheet, sliced thinly

Cook soba noodles in boiling water, approx 4 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, then drain again.

Heat stock, soy, mirin and sugar until sugar disolves. Cool the sauce.

Serve sauce, onion and wasabi on side dishes.

Chill noodles in ice water just before serving, then drain and serve, topping with seaweed strips.

Add wasabi and onions to the dipping sauce to taste, then dip the soba noodles into the sauce before eating.

Simmered Green Beans 

  • 350g green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups dashi stock (I used instant dashi granules)
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons sake
  • Bonito flakes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until just tender.

Ideally, serve the beans decoratively (like in a pyramid shape) and sprinkle bonito flakes over the top. I just plonked them in a bowl and spooned more of the cooking liquid over the top. I aslo overcooked them a bit, but they were still yummy.

Sweet Soy Pumpkin

  • 500g pumpkin, unpeeled
  • 1 1/2 cups dashi stock (I used instant dashi granules)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

Cut the pumpkin into cubes, discarding seeds and cutting out chunks of skin randomly to make skin appear mottled and allow flavour to penetrate. This looks a lot better with a japanese pumpkin than my golden nuggets I had on hand.

Place pumpkin and other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to boil then reduce heat until pumpkin is tender. Serve on a plate with additional cooking liquid spooned over the top.

I realise now reading the recipe that I meesed it up and should have cooked the pumpkin initially skin side down in just the dashi, sugar and mirin, then only added the soy later. I think it worked just fine, and it was a lot easier to juggle the other elements this way.

After two very unpopular dinners over the past 2 nights, the kids really loved this one.


The weight-loss meal plan continues tomorrow with Cajun Chicken with Chunky Salsa.

11 Responses to “Edamame (Japanese Soybean) Harvest”

  1. Liz February 22, 2012 at 10:48 pm #

    Very impressed with both the harvest and the meal – both look absolutely delicious. I always find it interesting and unpredictable what kids will and wont eat. We went out for dinner tonight (dumplings and noodle soup) and Mr 2 decided that cloud ear mushrooms were absolutely fabulous. Who’d have thought?

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney February 22, 2012 at 11:14 pm #

      Thanks Liz. I absolutely adore Japanese food, and it holds so much potential for weight loss food. I have a cracker of a japanese recipe coming up later in the week. – almost too good to be true!

      I have never heard of cloud ear mushrooms. Just looking them up they look kinda similar to the black fungus used commonly in Korean cuisine – does that sound right?

      I think dumplings are just the most delicious thing – I could eat yum cha for every meal of every day if I was allowed – especially the prawn-filled rice dumplings with soy and cantonese chilli sauce… *insert Homer Simpson drool sound here*

      You can tell I’m starving, can’t you? 🙂

      • Karen February 23, 2012 at 10:01 am #

        I’m pretty sure that cloud ear mushrooms are the same as Korean black fungus. Cloud ear is the translation of the Chinese name – cloud for the colour and ear for the shape. And they can be really tasty 🙂

      • L from 500m2 in Sydney February 23, 2012 at 11:33 pm #

        I love that black fungus in Korean food – Oh, oops. Now I’m thinking about food again…mmm… Jap chae.

  2. Tracey February 23, 2012 at 7:13 am #

    Just FYI on nitrogen fixation – the plant incorporates the nitrogen it accesses via the symbiotic bacteria into it’s own tissues, not the surrounding soil, so if you want the nitrogen in the soil you need to leave at least some of the plant tissue (like the roots, or better yet the whole plant chopped up) to decay in the soil. Or compost it and add the compost back to the garden bed.

  3. L from 500m2 in Sydney February 23, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Tracey thanks for that. I had read a lot about the nitrogen fixation process, yet that was never clear to me. It seems that the beauty of legume crops is that they can supply most of their nitrogen themselves from the air rather than depleting the soil 100%, so a legume crop will still leave a nitrogen deficit unless you leave the plants to break down – wow! Thanks so much for the revelation!

    • Karen February 23, 2012 at 10:05 am #

      Just did some searching online with the same results as Tracey – which makes me think that the nodules we left on the plants are the more likely place to find the bacteria. Maybe if you raked the nodules back into the garden, the bacteria would colonise the soil? But I don’t know how well they’d have survived being left in the sun yesterday. Then again, you do have another crop, so you could collect the nodules when you harvest that one, and see which is better at inoculating the soybeans if you decide to grow them in different soil 🙂

      • L from 500m2 in Sydney February 23, 2012 at 11:28 pm #

        I think there are 2 different things at play here – the bacteria and the nitrogen. I realise now that the nitrogen is most definitely (mostly) in the plant matter, but the bacteria should be perfectly viable in the soil. I’ve read lots of debates between farmers (particularly in America where they grow lots of soybeans) about whether they need to innoculate every year or not. The consensus seems to be that unless you are rotating your crops regularly then every year shouldn’t be necessary because the bacteria will survive a year in the soil. The problem is when the beans are planted on virgin soil. In my case it is probably OK because I do plant legumes fairly regularly. I noticed nodules on my broad beans even though I didn’t innoculate, so I think the bacteria is present in my soil (at least in that bed). I think I’d struggle to find anywhere that hasn’t had some type of legume crop over the past year (so much for adequate crop rotation, huh?).

  4. Sarah February 23, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Yum!! The sweet soy pumpkin is one of my favourites (it works really well on sweet potato too).

  5. Barbara Good March 1, 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Great harvest and I love the sound of the meal. I’m really enjoying Japanese food at the moment, but usually get it out rather than cooking it myself. I tend to enjoy the home-style Japanese over the more tricky sushi (though I do like this as well) and sashimi. I’d love a good Japanese cookbook, Any suggestions?

    I especially love the eggplant and miso paste dish you get at some places, I’d love to be able to cook that with the eggplants that are nearly ready to pick.


  1. Processing edamame (soybeans) for freezing « 500m2 in Sydney - February 26, 2012

    […] dinner tonight I processed the soybeans. They had been sitting in the fridge since Wednesday, so I couldn’t leave them any longer. I set my large stockpot on the stove with heavily […]

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