Soybeans belong to the legume family and are native to East Asia. They have been an important protein source in the Orient for over five thousand years. Soybeans have only been introduced to the Western world since the 20th century. Soybeans grow on a variety of soils and a wide range of climates, ranging form tropical Brazil to the snowy island Hokkaido in the north of Japan.
As soybeans mature in the pod, they ripen into hard, dry beans. Although most soybeans are yellow, there are also rare varieties which are black, brown or green coloured. A given area of land planted with soybeans can produce much more protein than land planted with other crops, or if the land were used to raise cattle.
Fresh soybeans, or edamame, should be refrigerated and used within two days. Frozen edamame can be stored in the freezer for several months. Dried soybeans can be kept in an airtight container for a very long period.
Soybeans are most often transformed in other foods such as tempeh
, soy milk
or other food ingredients. However, cooked soybeans can also be used as an ingredient in soups
. To prepare two cups of soybeans for cooking, soak them in about six cups of water for about eight hours. This soaking shortens the cooking time, improves the texture and appearance of the beans and removes some of the indigestible sugars. Drain, rinse and cook the soaked soybeans in about six cups of fresh water. Do not add salt at this point or it will delay the softening of the soybeans. Pressure-cook the soaked soybeans for about 40 min. When you cook soybeans, make it worth your while by cooking two or three times what you need and freezing the rest for later use.
Health Benefits of Soybean
1. Low in fat with no cholesterol.
2. Contains essential heart friendly omega-3 fats.
3. An excellent source of fiber.
4. Is a good source of enriched Calcium and Vitamin B12.
5. Is a complete protein, containing all the amino acids essential to human nutrition.
6. Provides important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and selenium.
7. Rich in probiotics in the form of fermented soy products, such as miso, tempeh, and soy yogurt.
8. Contains isoflavones which are beneficial in reducing risk of various cancers, heart disease and osteoporosis.
9. Whole soy foods such as tofu and tempeh form a nutrient rich alternative to meat.