Edamame (pronounced "ed-uh-mah-may"), which translated from Japanese to English means "beans on a branch," is a traditional and common Japanese snack food. It has been quickly gaining popularity here in the United States as a healthy and tasty alternative to other snack foods like peanuts and potato chips. Edamame is rich in vitamin C, folate, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, calcium, potassium, protein and fiber.

As with any food, homegrown soybeans are best since you know exactly how the food was grown and what you are eating. When done properly, they have a nutty, sweet flavor with a texture that is creamy yet slightly crunchy. The key is to not overcook them.

Edamame is simple to make. Pick the soybeans after the seeds have filled out the pods but the pods are still green. Wash off any dirt and debris from the garden, toss into a kettle of water (salted water is an option) and boil the whole pods for seven to ten minutes. Like anything, practice will make perfect.

Drain the pods and immediately immerse in cold water to stop the cooking process. As soon as they are cool enough to handle, squeeze a pod with your fingers or teeth until the beans pop out. As an alternative to boiling, you can steam or microwave them for four to five minutes.

Although not a required step, another tip is to drizzle the pods with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with your favorite salt to taste.

Note: Fresh picked soybean pods will last about one week if stored loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To enjoy edamame throughout the year, keep your green soybean pods picked as they mature, bag and freeze for later use.

Brought to you by the Victory Seed Company - www.VictorySeeds.com

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