5 Reasons to Grow, Use and Eat Ancient Adzuki Beans: The Little Power-Packed Red Bean.

Have you tried Adzuki beans lately? 

These little red beans are such a versatile, delicious and nutritious food and are easy to grow as a warm season legume.  I use them in so many ways in my kitchen ... and bathroom, and they're great for the soil too - an excellent multifunctional plant for a permaculture garden.

It's a great idea to add protein to your food garden repertoire and it's simple. These little red beans are excellent sources of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals, and of course they are gluten free.

Adzuki Bean (Vigna angularis) is an ancient plant . It’s been cultivated in Japan, China and Korea for over 4000 years. We’re familiar with the little red adzuki beans, known as red bean or red mung bean, but in some part of the world you can also find grey, black, white and mottled varieties.

5 Reasons to Eat Adzuki Beans

  1. Adzuki beans are delicious. They have a lovely flavour which even my picky young eaters are happy to eat.
  2. Adzuki beans are high in antioxidants.
  3. Adzuki beans are a high protein food.
  4. Adzuki beans are a high fibre and low calories food that helps you feel full longer.
  5. Adzuki beans are high in iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, potassium, manganese. They are also rich in folic acid.

5 Simple Ways to Use Adzuki Beans

You can use adzuki beans in so many ways. Raw and cooked, sweet and savoury. Even ON your face!
  1. Sprouts and Microgreens - soak overnight then sprout in a jar or in your microgreens tray. I like to add these to salads and green smoothies.
  2. Sweets - red bean paste is a popular dessert paste in Asian foods. Make your own healthy version by simply mashing cooked adzuki beans and adding your own sweetener of choice.
  3. Curry, Stew, Soup: Adzuki beans add fabulous protein to vegetarian meals such as curries, stews and soups. If you want them to stay whole, add the cooked beans towards the end, otherwise they will dissolve and thicken the mix .
  4. Salad: I store pre-cooked adzuki beans in the fridge and add them to my lunchtime salads for a protein boost.
  5. Face (and body) scrub: For centuries, Japanese women have used adzuki beans to help them look after their skin. Powdered adzuki makes a wonderful scrub - helping to gently buff away dull, dry skin and make your face feel nice and fresh. Adzuki beans actually contain a natural foaming agent that helps to clean the skin by absorbing excess oils, removing dead skin, unclogging pores and promoting circulation.
PS:  I always soak mine adzukis overnight to shorten the cooking time, but also to reduce their gas-causing impact!

In the garden

Adzuki beans grow on an annual vine that produces long pods each with 6-8 of the small red beans inside. It's best to harvest them when the pods have dried, about 4 months from planting. You can eat the immature beans to when they are green and just forming inside the pod. 

It may take up to 18 days for the seedlings to emerge after planting. I planted the organic adzuki beans I had bought for cooking.

Being a legume it will help to improve the soil. You can use it as a cover crop if you allow it to sprawl across the ground. However, for easy harvest of pods and a good crop, it’s best to grow adzuki on a trellis in full sun in well drained soil. It does need a fair bit of water in the hotter months.  

To harvest, wait until the pods turn fully yellow, harvest them and finish drying them in a protected placed before shelling - a fun thing to do over a cuppa with friends, or with the kids.

In the Australian subtropics plant adzuki beans from September to February. In Australian temperate areas, plant them from October to January, and in the Australian tropics, they can grow all year round.

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