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Can You Eat Edamame Pods? – What You Need To Know

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You are not alone if you have ever wondered whether you can eat edamame beans with the pod. Is eating edamame pods a good idea?

Can you eat edamame pods? As delicious as edamame beans are, their pods are inedible. Edamame pods are very firm and can be very difficult to chew as well. Even if you do manage to chew and eat it, the pods may cause a lot of digestion issues.

There are a lot of things to consider about edamame pods. Read below to learn more about the taste, texture, and what you should do if you eat edamame pods.

What Are Edamame Pods?

salted edamame beans

In simple terms, edamame is immature soybeans. This means that if left to grow undisturbed, these pods will eventually grow and turn into mature soybeans.

The reason why edamame is so popular is that it offers an extremely appealing flavor, texture, and mouthfeel, especially when it is cooked right – and fortunately, it is very easy to cook edamame at home!

Edamame beans are protected by a firm shell that also tightly holds the beans in place. They are bright green and can also be mistaken for pea pods. However, edamame pods tend to be a bit shorter and more compact than a typical pea pod. 

Edamame pods contain an average of 1-3 beans inside. As mentioned, the pods tightly wrap the beans – so much so that you can visually inspect and count the individual beans without even opening the pod. 

Even though the pod itself is very firm, it has a smooth texture. They can also be very tough, which is why opening an uncooked edamame pod can pose a challenge. This is why edamame pods are usually always boiled before they are served. 

Boiling the pods hydrates and loosens the plant fibers – which tenderizes both the shell and the beans inside. When cooked right, the edamame pods become mildly soft and slightly pliable. 

After the pods have cooled down, you can squeeze out the beans by either pressing them between your fingers or by using your teeth. 

Taste and Texture of Edamame Beans

edamame beans in a clear bowl

Before we discuss the pods, let’s first talk a bit about the beans – which are the main selling point of this vegetable.

Edamame beans have a flavor that is reminiscent of peas. They have a unique buttery texture with an added sweetness and nuttiness to them.

These beans have a shape that is similar to kidney beans – but they are usually smaller and a bit more compact. 

The reason for this is that edamame beans are immature and are harvested before they get a chance to develop into a larger bean.

The beans are usually cooked while they are in the pod and are served with a variety of condiments – but they can also be enjoyed with a simple seasoning of salt too. 

Now let’s talk about the pods!

Taste and Texture of Edamame Pods

salted edamame pods in a bowl

Edamame pods are almost never eaten but they do provide some flavor notes.

For example, when boiled in salted water, the pods take on a milder plant-like flavor with a hint of sweetness, saltiness, and earthiness too.

However, beyond its flavor and purpose as a vessel for the edamame beans, the pod has very little use!

Edamame pods contain a lot of fiber – and most of it is insoluble. 

Insoluble fiber is plant matter that is not fully digested in the body. Rather, it passes through the body, adding bulk to stools – while soluble fiber can be dissolved and broken down in the body. 

If you were to eat an edamame pod you would immediately notice how chewy it is. The pod is very tough and even when fully cooked, the shell will put up a fight! This is why almost everyone eats the beans before discarding the pods. 

The Uses of Edamame Pods

Is there any practical use for the pods? No. 

The truth is, edamame pods can tax the digestive system and may even cause blockages, especially if it isn’t chewed all the way through. 

Remember, the pods are naturally very fibrous and while you can get a bit of flavor if you chew on them, it is always recommended that you discard the pod after use. Keep in mind that this suggestion applies to both cooked and uncooked pods.

The only utility that the pods provide is that they make eating the beans fun! 

Also, the pods can add a lot of presentation points and can transform the beans into a delicious and addicting snacking item. Not to mention, the pods also help the beans inside cook evenly and thoroughly via steam and passive heat.

Cooked Vs Uncooked Edamame Pods

In many cases, identifying cooked and uncooked pods can be challenging, especially if the pods have only been defrosted and not yet cooked. 

In this scenario, always inspect the pod by picking it up and feeling the exterior surface for tenderness.

Remember, uncooked frozen edamame pods are tough and can feel quite firm. They are not pliable and the pods may feel as if they are “stuck” inside the pod.

When fully cooked, the pods will soften enough to be felt by your fingers. Extracting the beans from cooked edamame pods is also very easy. All you need is to push the beans out of the pod using your hands or mouth. 

While you may also be able to do this with uncooked pods, there will be quite a lot of resistance when trying to extract the beans this way.

Knowing this difference is important because uncooked edamame can contain high amounts of lectin. (More on this below.)

I Ate an Edamame Pod – What do I do?

If you have eaten an edamame pod then there are two things that you can do:

  1. Wait until you feel any noticeable symptoms. 
  2. Preemptively consult with a local physician. 

In most cases, the first option is usually the go-to protocol if you have accidentally eaten a pod. However, please keep in mind that most experts recommend that you visit your local health provider at the first sign of any symptoms. 

Here are some common symptoms to look out for after eating edamame pods:

  1. Stomach cramps.
  2. A localized pain in the colon or stomach. 
  3. Nausea.
  4. Vomiting.
  5. Diarrhea.
  6. Dizziness.  

These symptoms may present either individually or you might even experience a combination of symptoms after eating a pod. 

Please consult with a doctor after the onset of any symptoms. The starting time and duration of the symptoms are hard to estimate but if you do get affected, you can expect to feel uncomfortable within the same day. 

If you feel any change in your general health after consuming the pods then please consult with your local health provider for more information.

On the flip side, it is also possible for you to not experience any symptoms at all – and this tends to be the usual prognosis after eating an edamame pod. 

However, there is a big factor to consider here: eating cooked vs uncooked pods.

As mentioned, uncooked edamame pods can contain a high amount of lectin – which is a toxic compound that some plants produce to fend off predators. If consumed in large doses, lectin can cause severe stomach issues and in severe cases, may even lead to hospitalization. 

How To Reduce Lectin In Edamame

Both the pod and the beans contain this glycoprotein in varying amounts. So, what is the best way to get rid of the lectin? 

The best way to reduce lectin in edamame is by cooking it. You can steam or boil the edamame for great results.

When exposed to heat, the lectin breaks down and becomes inactive, which is why you don’t get sick, even after eating loads of cooked edamame beans. 

It turns out that even when cooked, the shell may still have some residual level of lectin on it because of the tough layering and density of the exterior pod.

While you may not get sick from chewing on the pods, it is recommended that you just avoid eating them altogether. 

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should be afraid and just peel, cut, or squeeze the pods to get the beans. As mentioned, part of the reason why edamame is so beloved is because of how fun they are to eat! 

Eating the beans by forcing them out with your teeth is perhaps the best way to enjoy this delicious vegetable and can also be a great snacking alternative, especially compared to other unhealthy foods.

How to Cook Edamame Pods

Cooking edamame pods is easy and all it requires is a large pot filled with water, salt, and a bit of patience. Also, if you happen to live outside of Japan, then you would probably only have access to frozen edamame. 

Frozen edamame is usually already cooked, if not stated otherwise on the packaging.

Always check the pack for instructions on how to prepare the edamame before you boil them because recooking precooked edamame may result in a mushy texture.

However, if the pack says that the edamame is uncooked then you can go with several options to cook them. Here are a few great methods:

  1. Roasting
  2. Boiling
  3. Sauteing
  4. Defrosting

Roasting Edamame

The roasting method is by far the easiest way to cook edamame and get the most out of this flavor.

Please note that this cooking method applies to the pre-cooked frozen variety. So, if you have a pack of uncooked and frozen edamame then you should first boil them (more on this in a bit).

To roast pre-cooked and frozen edamame pods:

  1. Put a cast-iron or nonstick pan on medium heat and let the pan get hot.
  2. Add the frozen edamame pods and stir occasionally until you get some charring or color on each side of all the pods. 
  3. You only want to get a light brown color on the pods – avoid completely charring the pods as it may negatively affect the flavor of the beans inside.
  4. Once the pods are adequately hot and have a nice color on them, take them out and sprinkle salt over the cooked pods.
  5. Let the pods sit for 3-5 minutes and enjoy!

Boiling Edamame

Pre-cooked and frozen edamame pods are usually never boiled – as is a common way of consuming edamame in Japan. 

However, boiling both cooked and uncooked edamame is the best way to get the most out of their flavor.

To cook frozen and uncooked edamame:

  1. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. You may also add a sprinkle of salt or more depending on how large the pot is.
  2. Add the frozen edamame pods to the pot and let them simmer for about 3-4 minutes.
  3. A great sign to check for doneness is to keep an eye on the pods as they boil. Once you add the pods to the pot, you will notice that they sink to the bottom. 
  4. Once fully cooked, the pods will rise to the surface.
  5. Drain the pods and hit them with a sprinkle of salt and serve.

Sauteing Edamame

This method is the best way to enjoy edamame with a range of different ingredients.

Make spiced edamame by mixing in crushed garlic, peppers, soy sauce, and more. Sauteing allows for greater control over how the pods end up tasting too.

There are several recipes that you can try to maximize the flavor and texture of frozen edamame. My favorite recipe for sauteed edamame is the one in the video below by Cooking Japanese on YouTube.

Just remember, this method does not make the pods edible. No matter what method you opt to cook edamame, you will always have to discard the pod.

Defrosting Edamame

Finally, this is the most basic and straightforward way to enjoy edamame. If you have a bag of pre-cooked and frozen edamame in the freezer then you can just shift the bag into the fridge to let it thaw overnight. 

Once thawed, the pods can be eaten without applying any heat.

Alternatively, you can also thaw the edamame pods at room temperature but please make sure that you don’t store the pods for more than 2 hours at room temperature to avoid bacterial growth.

To cook the pods in the microwave, simply set the power setting to defrost mode and heat the pods until they are adequately warm or fully defrosted. 

Please bear in mind that this method only pertains to pre-cooked edamame. You should not eat raw edamame without cooking them. Always check the back of the packaging for storage and cooking instructions or consult with a local sales rep for more information. 

Related Questions

Eating edamame pods can be a bad idea because of the toughness and chewiness of the pods. However, if you do end up consuming a pod then you can either expect light-to-moderate stomach issues or no symptoms at all. 

Now that you know all about eating edamame pods, here are some related questions:

Should you cook edamame without the pods?

Cooking edamame without the pods is not recommended because the pods provide a barrier and protect the delicate beans from direct heat. The pods also help cook the beans evenly and usually provide a fun way to eat the beans!

Can edamame pods get stuck in your throat? 

Yes. Edamame pods can pose a choking hazard, especially if you are feeding edamame to young children.

Please always keep an eye on small children when serving them either the pods or the beans. It is usually a good idea to teach children the correct way to eat edamame to avoid any mishap. 

Always discard the pods after use and throw them away carefully so that they aren’t consumed by pets or other domesticated animals either. 

Can you eat a few uncooked edamame beans?

Occasionally eating a few raw beans might not pose any threat, especially if you have tried it before without experiencing negative effects. Some people can also be naturally immune to small doses of lectin; however, others may not fare well.

Never gamble with your health when eating raw edamame. Always make sure that you cook the pods thoroughly before serving them. 

Up Next: Edamame vs Mukimame – What’s The Difference?

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