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Taste test: frozen edamame

Edamame, the immature soybeans in the pod, first got attention as a side dish at Japanese restaurants and has now found its way into lunch boxes and grocery stores. We sampled six brands of frozen edamame from grocery stores, including Trader Joe's in Sarasota, and searched unsuccessfully for Birds Eye's version that was sold out everywhere we looked. The green pods are steamed or boiled and traditionally served with sea salt. They are popular on salads, as side dishes or as snacks. We prepared the pods on the stove and served them salted. The beans, which are easily removed from the pods for eating, received high praise from our panelists, scoring better than some desserts on recent tastings.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/Score

(of 100)
Archer Farms 83Trader Joe's 83Cascadian Farm 62Seapoint Farms 60
Judges'

comments
These pods were pale, big and rustic looking with a bit of a floral smell. The beans were a bit soft and mushy, but the flavor was excellent, judges said. One liked the Target brand of beans for the strong nutty flavors. "They are really aromatic and sweet," said one panelist. "I could eat these all day."Plump, flavorful beans filled these pods. "They are plump, moist and really nice," said one panelist. Another described the bean pods as "perfect looking." She said, "Each pod is vibrant green, fat and juicy with really good soy flavor." A couple said the beans tasted buttery. "They are very nutty, very nice, very flavorful and have a really good chew," said one.One taster descried the taste of these beans as "stunning," saying, "I felt 100 percent healthier after the second bite," he said. "This is like a two-year 'pass-go' pass to Gold's Gym." Another said, "These made me burst out singing 'Edamame' to the tune of Volare. I don't know why, but if you have a decent voice, you'll love these." These beans were less green and less plump than some of the others, but the flavor made them a hit. "They are sweet but with plenty of soy character," said one.Judges said the sweet flavor of these pods resembled green peas. "It reminds me of a very thin and bite-sized Kermit the Frog — very easy being green," said one. "They have an almost perfect taste in the mouth." Another appreciated the beans for their snap. "It's just enough to make them look and taste really fresh."
Would

they buy?
All five judges said yes.All five judges said yes.Three of the five judges said yes.Three of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information$1.99 for a 12-ounce bag from Target.$1.69 for a 16-ounce bag from the Sarasota store.$3.19 for a 10-ounce bag from Sweetbay.$3.69 for a 14-ounce bag from Sweetbay.


Also Sampled: Wel-Pac ($2.69 for a 16-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 54 points)

and Sunrich Naturals ($2.69 for a 12-ounce bag from Publix, 50 points).

Panelists: Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island; John Hehn, foodie & owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; Wayne Conery, manager of the R-Bar on Treasure Island; and Laura Reiley, Times food critic. All products were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, Tampa Bay Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or email them to jkeeler@tampabay.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to tampabay.com/things-to-do/food/tastetest.

Serving sizeHalf cupHalf cupTwo-thirds cupHalf cup
Calories110120120100
Fat/Fiber3.5g / 9g5g / 5g5g / 3g3g / 4g
Sugars/Sodium2g / 0mg1g / 10mg2g / 10mg1g / 30mg
Carbs/Protein12g / 9g8g / 10g9g / 10g9g / 8g

Taste test: frozen edamame 04/23/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 22, 2013 6:36pm]
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