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Know your Yard-long bean

  • The yardlong beanVigna unguiculata subsp. sesquipedalisis a subspecies of the cowpea, grown around the world for its medium-sized edible bean. 
  • Despite the name, the pods are actually only about half a yard long; the subspecies name of sesquipedalis (one-and-a-half-foot-long) is a rather more exact approximation of the pods' length.
  • This plant is extensively cultivated in India for its pods, which are often two feet in length, contain a number of pea-like seeds called by the Hindus chowlee and form a considerable article of food. 

Know your Yard-long bean - Common names

  •  The yard-long bean is also known as the long-podded cowpeaasparagus beansnake bean, or Chinese long bean.
  • China:  cheung kong tau, dau gok, dow gauk, tseng dou, cai dou, chang dou, chang jiang dou, chang kong tau, jiang dou
  • India:  lobia
  • Indonesia:  kacang panjang, otok
  • Japan:  juroku sasage mame, sasage
  • Malaysia:  kacang belut, kacang panjang, kacang panjang hijau, kacang perut ayam
  • Philippines:  banor, hamtak, sitao, sitaw
  • Sri Lanka:  diya mekaral
  • Thailand:  tau afuk yaou, tau fug yao, thua chin
  • Vietnam:  dau dua, dau que

Know your Yard-long bean - Botany

  • This plant is of a different genus than the common bean.
  • It is a vigorous climbing annual vine. 
  • A variety of the cowpea, it is grown primarily for its strikingly long (35-75 cm) immature pods and has uses very similar to that of a green bean. 
  • The pods, which begin to form just 60 days after sowing, hang in pairs. 
  • The plant is subtropical/tropical and most widely grown in the warmer parts of South-eastern Asia, Thailand, and Southern China. 

Know your Yard-long bean - Cultivation

  • They are best if picked for vegetable use before they reach full maturity. 
  • Yard-long beans are quick-growing and daily checking/harvesting is often a necessity. 
  • The many varieties of yard-long beans are usually distinguished by the different colours of their mature seeds. 
  • A traditional food plant in Africa, this little-known vegetable has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable land-care.

Know your Yard-long bean - Uses

  • The crisp, tender pods are eaten both fresh and cooked. They are at their best when young and slender. 
  • They are sometimes cut into short sections for cooking uses. 
  • They are used in stir-fries in Chinese cuisine. 
  • In Malaysian cuisine they are often stir-fried with chillies and shrimp paste (sambal) or used in cooked salads (kerabu). 
  • Another popular and healthful option is to chop them into very short sections and fry them in an omelette.

Know your Yard-long bean - Nutrition

  • They are a good source of protein, vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, and potassium, and a very good source for vitamin C, folate, magnesium, and manganese.
  • In a serving size of 100 grams of yard-long beans there are 47 calories, 0 grams of total fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 4 mg sodium (0% daily value), 8 grams of total carbohydrates (2% daily value), and 3 grams of protein (5% daily value). 
  • There is also 17% DV vitamin A, 2% DV iron, 31% DV vitamin C, and 5% DV calcium. (Percent daily values are based on a 2000 calorie diet. Individual daily values may be higher or lower depending on individual calorie needs.)