1225 Vigna angularisCommon Names: adzuki bean, azuki bean, red bean, aduki bean Family: Fabaceae (bean Family)
Some varieties of adzuki bean grow as erect forbs, 1-2 ft (30-60 cm) tall, and others as twining vines 2-3 ft (30-90 cm) long. The trifoliate leaves are 4-8 in (10-15 cm) across, with each heart shaped leaflet 2-4 in (5-10 cm) across. The flowers are yellow. The pendent pods are slender, 3-5 in (7-12 cm) long, and contain up to a dozen little red beans with cream colored seams. ‘Express’ is a variety for cool climates, said to mature in 118 days.
Vigna angularis, the adzuki bean, is native to China and Japan where it is grown extensively for human consumption. Adzuki beans (also called red beans) also are grown commercially in the U.S., South America and India.
Adzuki beans like a well drained soil that is neutral to acidic. They take 120-150 days from planting to maturity, longer than most legumes. Most varieties of adzuki bean are short-day plants, not ripening until the days grow shorter in autumn. Light: Virtually all plants grown for food do best in full sun and adzuki beans are no exception. Moisture: Adzukis are a little more tolerant of drought than many garden vegetables, but they do best with regular watering and a well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 10 - 10. Adzuki beans are tender warm season annuals. They do best with cool nights and days that are not too hot. Adzukis do not tolerate frost and perform best when temperatures are between 60°F (15°C) and 86°F (30°C). Propagation: Plant adzuki beans about an inch (2.5 cm) deep, and 6 in (15 cm) apart in rows about 18 in (45 cm) apart when the soil is at least 60°F (16°C). Try to time the planting so that the beans will be ripening as late in the season as possible; no need to plant in early spring except in colder climates.
The young pods of adzuki beans can be used as snap beans, but they are usually allowed to mature and dry before use. The shelled beans are then treated like other dried beans: soaked, then simmered for a couple hours until tender.
Adzuki beans have a nutty taste that is much sweeter than most beans. Dried adzukis are often prepared by boiling and then mashing with sugar to form a paste that is used in deserts such as cakes, pastries and even ice cream and soda pop. Adzuki paste is a main ingredient in dim sum, the little filled pastries that are popular in Cantonese cuisine. In Indian cooking, adzuki beans are boiled until tender then pureed and combined with various spices in a curry-like concoction. Adzuki beans are also eaten as bean sprouts, especially in Japan. Adzuki sprouts require forcing, in which the sprouting jar is kept in dark until the seeds germinate.
The nutty flavor of adzuki beans is also delicious in savory applications, such as the Japanese sekihan (festival rice) that combines adzuki beans with sweet rice and sesame seeds.
Adzuki beans are considered the king of beans in Japan, second only to soy beans in importance. Adzukis are low in calories and fat, and easier to digest than many other kinds of beans. They are an excellent source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, folic acid, iron and potassium.
The genus Vigna includes some 150 species, including the cowpeas (V. unguiculata), also known as field peas or southern peas, and including such old favorites as black-eyed peas, crowder peas, cream peas, purple hull pinkeye, and the oriental yard-long beans.
Steve Christman9/21/14; updated 9/30/15