This year was my first attempt at growing soybeans and WHOA. They sure did impress me with how quickly they grew and how low maintenance they are. The fabulous thing about any kind of legumes, soybeans included (as well as any kind of bean or pea), is that they thrive in poor soil. They pull nitrogen from the atmosphere to meet their own fertility needs, which means not only do they not require any kind of compost or fertilizer, but they also leave the soil more fertile than they first found it. They're a great crop to grow in a spot where you want to eventually plant something that needs a lot of soil fertility, like tomatoes or corn.
We grew a variety from Johnny's Seeds called Butterbean. Within a month or so, the soybeans quickly grew a dense canopy of leaves that not only shaded out most weeds (hooray!), but also provided our farm cat Charlie with a jungle to fit his tiny stature. He believes he's a mighty prowling jaguar and the bean patch was the perfect place for him to stalk his "prey" -- usually my hand as I pulled stray weeds or picked ripe beans.
We did have some issues with Japanese beetles invading and making sweet love out in the open, on every leaf surface available to them. I had heard in my Master Gardener class that most organic controls of Japanese beetles are pointless, so I let the beetles do their worst. They did eat a lot of the soybean foliage, leaving my plants looking like a finely cured Swiss cheese, but their rampant destruction didn't seem to affect the harvest, which has been prolific.
There have been bean pods on the plants for over a month now, but it wasn't until the last week or so that they really began to look plumply filled out. Last weekend we celebrated Maggie's sixth birthday with a family barbecue featuring Fudge Farm pork and Dove Farm beef. The morning of her birthday, Maggie, Josh, and I all headed out to the bean patch where we harvested approximately one square foot of soybeans. From that small space we reaped a harvest of nearly two pounds of soybeans! That makes me pretty excited because we've got another 11 square feet left to harvest still.
Into the kitchen we headed with our bounty, where I boiled the pods in hot water for a few minutes then drained them to cool. Josh and Maggie set up shop at the kitchen table shelling the beans (a surprisingly fun activity as they shoot out of the pod upon being gently squeezed) while I set up the food processor to turn beans into hummus. That evening we enjoyed the flavorful dip with family.
I based my hummus loosely on this Food Network recipe, making amendments to allow for using fresh soybeans rather than frozen. This was my first time attempting hummus-making in my recently purchased food processor, which has more than earned its keep (I have this inexpensive Black & Decker processor that has worked wonderfully despite its low price tag) and yes, it is much much better than attempting to make hummus in a blender. I cannot recommend that method!
I didn't use lemon zest because I'm lacking a good zester, though I'm sure it would add great flavor. I doubled this recipe since it was just as easy as making a single portion. I do plan to freeze the rest of our harvest for later use as hummus, stir fry ingredients, and simple snack food.
Freshly Picked Edamame Hummus
1 pound fresh edamame (soybean) pods
1/4 cup tahini
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 lemon, juiced (about 3 tbsp)
1 clove garlic, smashed
3/4 tsp kosher salt (or 1/4 tsp regular table salt)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
Bring water to boil in a large stockpot and boil the fresh pods for 6-8 minutes, until pods soften and begin to split. Drain and allow to cool before shucking - a gentle squeeze should be enough for the beans to pop right out of the pods.
In a food processor, puree the edamame, tahini, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix until absorbed.
Transfer to a small bowl, stir in or top with the parsley, and drizzle with remaining olive oil.