8 Fun Facts About Soybeans
8 Fun Facts about Soybeans
1. The scientific name for a soybean plant is Glycine max. It is a type of legume that is classified as an oilseed (meaning it is primarily grown for use as a vegetable oil) rather than a pulse (meaning it is primarily grown for use as a grain). Soybeans produce a significant amount of protein per acre, much more than most other grains and legumes.
2. Because of the high protein content, soybean products are widely used in meat and dairy substitutes. Soy milk—the major ingredient used to make tofu—is made from soaking dried soybeans, then grinding them and mixing with water.
3. The United States is the largest grower of soybeans, producing 32% of the world’s supply. Scientists estimated the US would produce over 100 million metric tons of soybeans in 2016.
4. During maturation, soybean plants will first grown green and will produce small, unassuming flowers, usually either pink, purple or white. The appearance of the flowers is triggered by the length of the day, usually starting to appear once the days have shortened to just under 13 hours long. Hairy pods also start to appear, usually in clumps of 3-5 pods, each containing 2-4 seeds. As the plants mature further, the seed pods will turn brown and hard, which signals that harvest is rapidly approaching.
5. Raw, immature soybeans are not fit for human consumption (and are actually toxic to many animals), but they can be properly prepared with a “wet” heat to get rid of the trypsin inhibitors (which prohibit a certain enzyme from breaking the down the protein in your body). The result is edamame, which is a great addition to salads or other green foods. Mature, dried soybeans can be roasted and also enjoyed for human consumption.
6. Henry Ford had a big interest in using soybeans in various products—even in his cars! Soon, all of Ford’s factories used two bushels of soybeans (120 pounds) in the making of each car. He even made the “world’s first plastic car,” a prototype vehicle known as the “Soybean Car” that was created in 1941.
7. Soybeans are believed to have originated in East Asia, with evidence of soybean crops as early as 7000-6600 BC in areas of China. By the mid-1700s, they were introduced to the North American continent, and by the mid- to late 1800s, they had also arrived in South America and Africa.
8. Here at Cherry Crest, we do not use peanut oil for our frying, but instead use soybean oil across the property—whether that’s for frying french-fries, cider donuts, funnel cakes, and more!