I do not care what you say; the BEST snack food in the world is edamame. Green, healthy, savory, salty — steamed soybeans have the popability of potato chips, and it's so easy to drop a ton of money on frozen packs of them at the grocery.
I broke free of the frozen food aisle a couple years ago when I planted my first rows of soybeans. Last year, I broke 20 pounds of pods come harvest time — I'm hooked. Here is what I love about the amazingly snackable bean.
They are so easy to grow (in Iowa)
I bought a one pound packet of Envy in 2011, didn't even get through the whole pack, and grew over 20 pounds of of the stuff. Even though last summer was abnormally hot and dry in these parts, the beans didn't need the special attention of some of my other crops. They grew and grew and produced and ripened happily.
If you're interested in growing your own, they're a pretty hardy crop — generally happy in zones three through 11.
Beans are a simple DIY snack for later
After I harvest my beans, I blanch them for a 30 seconds in just-coming-off-boiling water, then quench the heat in a bowl of ice to stop the maturation process. After I tuck a few beans in a baggie and pop it in the freezer, I am DONE! Then a few months later I can pull out a bag, boil the beans for five minutes, and snack away.
They improve my soil
I'm a chemical-free gardener — less because I'm against dumping chemicals on the ground (though I am), and more because I find my plants grow best when they're in a healthy ecosystem full of bugs and birds and organic matter. To top it off, most of my garden plots lost their topsoil when our house's previous owners built an addition nearby — so the dirt is less loam, more clay. To help bring it back around to a rich, crumbly, well-drained soil full of earthworms, I use compost and nitrogen fixers like soybeans, and the difference they've made in the last 18 months is amazing!
Beans make MONDO green compost matter
Effective compost piles have a decent mix of green (living/fresh) and brown (dried out/dead) plant matter. 'Round Rockethaus, green stuff is harder to come by than dead leaves, sticks, and grass clippings. Except when edamame harvest is in full swing: I'm harvesting a small part of the plant before tossing the stalks, leaves, and discarded pods onto the pile. And that 20 pounds of beans left me a TON of green matter.
Edamame is a high-class appetizer
I fully milk the wow-factor of serving guests home-grown soybeans. It's a dish found in only a few restaurants, and many guests are completely unfamiliar with the little bean treat. And I get to be all, "Please enjoy this offering from my garden. It's organic, frozen directly after harvest, and last year's vintage was especially good."
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