Edamame / The World’s Healthiest Snack Created & Produced by John Daub ONLY in JAPAN Edamame They’re immature soy beans usually boiled or steamed a little salt and I love them. You can eat edamame frozen anytime but between the end of June and the beginning of September they’re harvest fresh and available at all the Japanese supermarkets and it’s by far my favourite summer snack But what exactly are edamame? Where do they come from and how are the grown? The name in Japanese gives you a clue EDA means stem or branch MAME means bean To get the complete story I came to Chiba prefecture near Tokyo to a city called Noda. The best edamame are found nearby and Chiba is very close to Tokyo, known for great produce. The middle of the prefecture is mostly farms and beautiful flat countryside. In the center of Noda is Yumeaguri Noda, a produce coop – and they sell some of the best edamame in town! The store just opened and customers are quick to snag up the morning’s fresh harvested edamame. 400 yen or about $4 get you 300 grams of right off the stem edamame. Yumeaguri has several varieties of of Edamame – that’s right! There are dozens of cultivars! There are edamame products too like Edamame toufu. See those edamame beans? Edamame soda? Yup – it’s green, sweet and slightly salty with a hint of edamame. National snack brands also cash in on the summer edamame craze! Executive director of Yumeaguri Noda is Sekine-san who was nice enough to show me his farm to get a better understanding on how edamame are made and what makes them so darn good. We grabbed a wheel barrel and headed to his field out back. Starting in April, he hand plants the edamame seeds in the field where they start sprouting within a week. Here they are after 2 weeks. No soy bean pods yet. Sekine-san and I were after the immature soy beans which were down this way. His family harvests them fresh daily in the summer from June to August when the weather is best and they’re in season. He’s got a fair sized field, all hand planted which means a lot of long days here. Edamame is probably Japan’s no.1 snack especially in the summer when it’s enjoyed with copious amounts of beer at izakaya, rooftop gardens or in homes all over the country. Edamame are immature beans so you have to harvest them early. Not yet. The thickness of the pod is still 4-5mm. At harvest time. the thickness of the pod will be 10-12 millimeters So they’re not ready yet. So – next week? Well, maybe the week after that. So you’re probably wondering ー What makes edamame so great? Here are some facts. Are Edamame Soy Beans? No! Soy Beans are mature while Edamame are the immature soft version of them, thus the different name. It’s called Edamame when still in the pod and Mukimame when serves just as a bean. Avoid Edamame that is yellowish or shrunken. The pod should look plump and firm. Edamame are usually boiled in salted water or steamed. I prefer them unsalted though. What makes them the perfect snack? They’re high in fiber, calcium, amino acids, and a ton of minerals and vitamins. Low is sugar and fat and almost no cholesterol. Around Tokyo, Edamame are planted in April and harvested in June but different areas have different seasons. Edamame must be eaten within 3 days when harvested fresh so the best are always local. They can last up to a year when frozen. Most people eat them as an appetizer Much healthier than french fries & potato chips! The Japanese word Edamame entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003. Don’t eat the pod! That’s just gross. Eat the beans inside. Do they grow on a tree or in the ground? Let’s harvest some edamame with Sekine-san right now. It’s not really that hard to harvest Sekine-san just pulls them from the ground! The plants are about 80-100 centimeters high. When is edamame ready to be pulled? Sekine-san explains. This edamame pod this plumpness means good and ready the condition of the stem the colour of the leaves these are signs that it’s ready to be harvested right away. I was a little curious about how they taste raw like this. I mean, we eat almost all vegetables raw in salads. It can’t be bad, right? The pods are hard to open The beans are hard too when uncooked. Hmmm … haha! How is it? It tastes different than the taste boiled, right? Well, it just tastes like a raw vegetable Just boil it really quick for a few minutes Put it in boiling water – really hot then cool it down in ice water it will bring out the taste better That’s right! It’ll get tastier! So ー how do you eat edamame? Here’s one. I’ve been eating it the same way for years – like a hamster The salt is on the outside and I like sucking it dry, typewritter the things out. Was that odd? Yeah, a little strange but no problem. That’s how I eat it. Here’s a demo on how some ladies eat Edamame in Japan. Oh, you’re eating it differently! Yeah, that’s how women often eat it one bean at a time Take a bean out and eat. That’s the ladies way. Sekine-san demonstrates how he eats it. Just push it a little here it comes out easily He just holds it up like a harmonica and pops it in his mouth. Give it a try! Rub it in salt and then put it in boiling water for 4 minutes when finished, quickly put it in ice water and this bright green colour will show that’s the secret to eating delicious edamame I wanted to know about when the different varieties of Edamame and how they’re grown. There are many types like cha-mamae, aomame but the one that is most grown in this region is the Aomame variety Of the Aomame, we produce this one called Aji-Fuka Aji-Fuka is our main edamame crop now After that we have to harvest ones depending on the weather The types of Edamame there are also so many seed companies so simply the number of seeds that JA introduces to us is oner 50 kinds Within those types, each farmer will choose what’s suitable for their field whether for taste or for the amount of harvest so they will choose what to harvest based on their needs Naturally in February or March when it is cold, edamame doesn’t grow well. Farmers use plastic green houses or row covers to keep them warm making edamame grow faster Farms all over the country From Hokkaido to Kyushu there exists so many edamame farmers in different regions but here in Noda, it’s fairly warm so here, you can plant the seeds in February but places like Yamagata (in Tohoku) famous for Da-da Chamame Gunma for Tengu Mame – or Niigata they plant after the snow has melted which means planting is in May and harvested in mif July to August Vegetables are living things until eaten so until then you can preserve the quality and taste of the beans by doing it this way compared to separated pods since the nutrients of the beans are still on the stem The packaging is important too It’s see-through so customers can see that it’s fresh They’re hand clipped and left on the stem to preserve freshness and those vitamin He’s been at it all day The final product ready for the local store or refrigerated delivery to Tokyo The Noda seal is important because This city is THE HOME OF EDAMAME! So that’s how Edamame are grown! I thought they’d be grown underground like a peanut – or up in a tree but they’re just like any other bean So that’s what a fresh edamame looks like So if you come to Japan especially in the summer Definitely try some edamame If you’re in the area come to Noda and have them fresh from the ground! Next time I travel to Shiga prefecture to try a local delacacy it’s exotic and well — unique! it’s 1 year old fermented FUNAZUSHI with a reputation of being super sour and stinking like cheese How bad can it be? We’re about to find out! If you liked it, hit that subscribe button and watch another one of ONLY in JAPAN’s shows See more at http://instagram.com/onlyinjapantv Mata ne!