It may be shocking to learn that those addictive green pods at your favorite sushi spot are just plain, ole’ soybeans. Yes indeed. I made this discovery when I was farming at Millstone Farm with rockstar farmer Annie Farrell. Growing edamame was the next best thing to growing popcorn! There’s a catch though; this hand-to-mouth, healthy snack is a one-time harvest. This means that unlike green beans, snap peas and other summer pods that take over their vines and won’t stop giving, soybeans give out one single fleet of pods per stem. Which is why our farmers snip down the whole plant when the soybeans are plump and deliver the pods and stems intact in our CSA.

So, considering the work and space it takes to grow a limited crop of soybeans, it makes me think harder about the soybeans I eat in mass-produced brands like Silk Soy Milk and Tofu. Can you imagine the amount of work (and chemical inputs) it must take to grow this obscenely commercial crop? Ever since I sowed by first row of soy, I’ve stuck to fresh soy beans that are produced by small-scale farmers near my neighborhood and soy foods that are made by local processors like Ithaca Soy. While organic soybeans are slightly less pretty than the perfect green pods you get from Trader Joe’s or at a restaurant, they’re richer in flavor.

Here’s how to make simple edamame at home. (Good luck making it last!)

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  1. Strip the soybean pods from the stems. (Yes, organic soybeans are more furry, like a kiwi, but you don’t eat the skins anyway!)
  2. Fill a pot with 1 inch of water. If you have a steaming basket, place inside the pot.
  3. Rinse the pods and add them directly to the pot, either in the water or on the steaming basket.
  4. Steam the pods for about 40 minutes, over low heat. Try a pod to see if the beans pop out and are tender.
  5. Dress the pods with sel gris, sea salt or any other seasoning. Add a splash of lemon!
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