The Wonders Of Soyabeans
Soya bean also called Soybean is a leguminous plant indigenous to East Asia particularly China where it plays a predominant role in the diets of one third of the world’s population. The bean is called ta-tou meaning greater bean in Chinese. The first appearance of the bean is said to have been in China 4000 years ago. On the other hand the bean became popular in Europe in the 17 th century. However, the USA is presently the largest producer of the bean.
Soya bean has the highest percentage of, above twice as much of protein among other legumes.Soy protein is almost as rich as animal protein found in milk, meat, fish and egg. It is a highly priced food ingredient especially among vegetarians. It is 40% protein. It is also 20% oil (second to groundnut among food legumes).Soya bean is considered a complete food. It has an excellent amino acid composition containing all essential amino acids needed for good health. Soil oil is highly digestible and contains no cholesterol. Soy oil accounts for 70% of total seed oil production worldwide.The bean is low in carbohydrate but high in fiber.
Soy Plant: Soya bean is a legume which grows to 80-100cm in height. It attains full nutritional content in 100 days. This accounts for its being considered a miracle plant. A mature plant contains 400 pods each containing 2-3 beans.The beans are nutrient dense. About 12 -13 liters of soya bean beverage can be produced from 1kg of Soya bean.
There are over 100 varieties of soya bean ranging from a small pea to a grape.The beans come in different colors, red, yellow, green, brown and even black.
Soy bean is cultivated in 47 countries of the world. In the USA and Western Europe, most of the production is large scale high-input farms as a mono-crop. In sub-Saharan Africa it is mostly grown on small scale either as a sole crop or with sorghum, maize or cassava. One major constraint to production in Africa is the lack of market for the grain whose awareness is still relatively low. Stories have been told of people who purchased the beans and tried to cook it for as long as the normal cowpea (beans) only to find the beans remaining hard after long hours of cooking.
Seeds can be harvested between 100-150 days after planting depending on the variety.
We will have a look at how Soybean is used where it is mostly used, among the Chinese and increasingly in the Americas. Soya bean is a very versatile crop. It can be processed into many things and prepared in different ways. Basically, it can be boiled in dishes like casseroles, salads etc and can be mashed after boiling for other uses. Its curry can be added to rice, salads, soups etc. Soya bean is better cooked with other ingredients that are strongly flavoured. Dried beans require overnight soaking and long slow cooking for about three (3) hours. For good taste, they should be cooked with plenty of seasoning.
Soy Sauce: This is the product of fermenting (shoyu) soybean in brine. It is dark brown in colour.
Soy milk: Beans are soaked, crushed or ground after which water is added for cooking. After cooking, the liquid is simmered, till thick white milk is obtained. The mixture is strained off to give smooth textured milk. This milk has a slightly legumy flavor. Soya bean is well appreciated by vegetarians and those who need or want a lactose-free diet. It is therefore used as a dairy-free substitute in milk shakes, puddings, soups and creamy sauces. Soy milk can be sold in liquid or dry powder form. Malted cereal extract can be added to add thickness and mild sweetness to soymilk. Soymilk can in turn be used in other drinks and dishes which can be made from normal animal milk. Soy drinks are made by adding desirable flavours, colours and sweetness to soymilk. Bean Curd (Tofu in Chinese): bean curd is one of the most popular forms of soy bean products made by curdling the soymilk and draining off the liquid. Pressed lightly the residue produces what Chinese call silky tofu. Pressed a bit more it becomes spongy (soft tofu) and pressed enough it becomes a solid cheese-like block (firm tofu), which can be cut and fried.
Okara: this is the pulpy solid residue left while straining off soymilk. It can be used in binding dough for baking or used in soups. It can be used the same way as melon in vegetable soups. This residue can also be fried as bean cake (akara in Yoruba language).
Soybeans are higher in essential fatty acids compared to other legumes and low in saturated fatty acids. Fermented Soybean (Tempeh): is highly fermented soybean cake. It contains a very high level of Vitamin B12. Soybeans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, lecithin, riboflavin, thiamin, fiber, folic acid and iron. They contain phytochemicals, which protect the heart against oxidation and inhibit blood clot formation. They also exert anti-inflammatory actions. They reduce the risk of hormone-related cancers, prevent osteoporosis when used in place of other animal proteins because far less calcium is excreted. They contain isoflavones. Isoflavones are plant chemicals with mild estrogen-like hormonal effects on the body. Genistein, an isoflavone in soybean is being studied for the potentials to inhibit growth of