Edamame (pronounced "eh-dah-MAH-meh") are vegetable soybeans — that is, you pick them when they're green, pop them out of the pods and serve them as a side dish or eat them like peanuts, a crunchy snack you munch with a beer. Edamame are an excellent source of high-quality protein — the beans have all of the amino acids, including the 8 not produced in our bodies. Also high in dietary fiber, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin A and folate. And then there are isoflavones — the powerful plant compounds that have been linked to everything from decreased heart disease to alleviating the symptoms of menopause.
Edamame are largely pest-resistant, but if you have problems with Bean Beetles or Stinkbugs they can be controlled with floating row covers or predatory insects (parasitic wasps, nematodes, ladybugs, and lacewings).
Edamame have a narrow harvest window of 3-7 days. Pick when beans have filled in the pod and before the pod begins to yellow. Chill the beans for several hours and then blanch the pods in boiling water just until the color deepens. The beans can then be refrigerated or frozen for later use.