Handling of "edamame" soybeans

Marlin L Burkholder gleneco1 at juno.com
Tue Sep 25 21:56:50 EDT 2001

Last week our patch of "edamame" soybeans matured enough to start
harvesting.  We had timed our CSA potluck to coincide with the beginning
of the soybean harvest so we could set up a demonstration for our
shareholders to learn how to work with them.  We reserved a picnic
shelter in a city park one block away from our regular pickup point and
arranged with one of our members, a small restaurant owner, to bring his
portable propane fired kettle to boil water in.

Before harvesting I paced off the number of paces (one of my 3 foot
strides) of row space corresponding to the number of shares in my CSA. 
Then I cut the plants in the paced off section and bundled and tied each
3' of harvested row and loaded them into my van, hitched up the trailer
loaded with the boxed shares, and headed to town.  According to later
estimates, each bundle yielded approximately 2 1/2 lbs of soybean pods.

Upon arriving at the picnic site, the women had everything set up and the
water hot. Prior arrangements had been made for everyone to pick up their
shares at the potluck and for those wanting to attend the potluck to join
the party.  Each share holder got a bundle of soybeans from the back of
my truck in addition to his box of other produce and those attending the
potluck brought their bundle and we sat around plucking the pods off the
plants  and blanching them for six minutes before demonstrating how to
squeeze the beans from the pods and talking about how versatile they are
in various recipes.  About a third of our members stayed for the potluck
and we had a wonderful time of delicious food, music, and fellowship..

This week I repeated the harvest procedure again and everyone got a
second bundle.  I noted that about 8 of our members who had not stayed
for the potluck and picked up their shares late after the potluck had
begun did not pick up their soybean bundles.  This week at the regular
pick up site another seven persons did not want their bundles, giving as
an excuse that they were too busy to work with them.  I left behind the
usual 8 or so boxes and bundles for the late comers at my normal pickup
site and will not be surprised if at least 1/2 of those bundles will be
left.  This leaves me to conclude that about 1/4th of my CSA members are
for various reasons unwilling to deal with or learn to deal with an
armload of unprocessed soybeans.

Apparently I have pushed a little beyond the point past that which a
significant number of my members are unwilling to go in working with food
which requires them to do more than take it out of a shrink wrapped
container and pop it into the microwave.  Last year I decided after the
soybean harvest that I was unwilling to pluck off the beans for 50 some
shares again and took someone elses tip to give them the beans on the
plant.  So I decided to experiment this year.  Conclusion--if I were to
do any more I would be putting the food in their mouths.  Oh well-I do
feel that those who attended the potluck were my dedicated members and
that I can go to sleep tonight knowing that I at least gave everyone an
equal opportunity.

The other half of the soybean patch will get my most dedicated efforts to
get harvested while the beans are still near optimum quality and put in
cold storage to be either used myself or sold at our local farmers'
market. They are far too precious to waste!   Puting more into the CSA
shares is probably not a good idea.  Oh by the way, how much are some of
you getting for these things?  I increased from $2.50/lb last year to
$3.00/lb this year and still didn't do too bad moving them.

Marlin Burkholder
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

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