Fava beans (aka broad beans) are incredibly nutritious beans!
In this post, you will learn how to prep cook and store them.
What are fava beans?
Fava beans are also called broad beans in some regions in this world.
They are large green beans growing and sitting in a thick, slightly hairy, thick green pod.
The pods can get about 6-7 inches long and one bean is about 1 inch long.
The beans can be eaten with the skin on them or can be peeled further, which reveals a bright green core bean.
Growing, harvesting or buying
Broad beans are easy to grow and they are usually planted with some other vegetables or flowers at the side for a balanced garden environment.
Seeds are sown in spring after the snow has melted.
The plants grow straight upwards and flowers appear soon after and will continue to appear until the end when you are harvesting large long pods.
The pods can grow in various sizes. Some have one bean some have 5 beans inside.
To know when to harvest the pods, press them between your fingers.
They are ready when they are hard and there is no air space between the skin and the bean.
If you keep them too long on the bean stalk, they get black spots.
You can buy fava beans in your local grocery store or farmer’s market.
They are in season in spring and in some places until the end of August.
Our fava beans in the alps in our garden are ready to be harvested in July for example.
How to prepare?
The beans are in the pod and that means you need to take them out.
To do so, “zip” open the pods from one end to another.
There is a fine string going from the top end to the end where you picked them from the bean stalk.
With your nails force the two sides open to reveal the beans.
Take out the beans from the pods and collect them in a bowl. Repeat the process with all the pods.
How to cook Fava Beans?
Fava Beans can be cooked and consumed 2 ways.
Either you cook the beans in the skin until they are cooked through OR you blanch, peel and eat them.
Both are a viable option, it depends on your preferences and how you want to use them.
Blanched and peeled fava beans are easier to digest and you won’t have any digestion and gas problems.
However, the skin can be nutritious too!
It depends also how you intend to use your fava beans.
If you are going to eat them like this as a snack, you don’t need to peel them.
If you intend to use them in a salad, I recommend the blanching and peeling method.
Some regions in the world don’t ever peel broad beans, some peel them at all times.
To use them unpeeled without blanching as a whole, just boil them until cooked through.
For the blanching method follow my instructions in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
Uses and serving ideas
Broad beans are a common crop around the world and have been used as a snack, in soups, pureed, marinated or as a side dish in various international cuisines.
We usually just boil them with the skin and serve them up as a plain side with, salt, butter boiled potatoes, stewed tomatoes, cold cuts or smoked salmon, cooked leek and some raclette cheese. That’s a farmer’s dinner meal!
You can just add raw and fresh fava beans to your stew or chili so that they can cook along with the other ingredients.
Here are some more ideas on how to use them:
- marinated fava beans
- add them to your bean salad
- mediterranean fava beans and rice
- with pasta or in noodle soups
- sauteed fava beans with bacon
- sauteed with spinach
- sicilian fava bean soup
- feta fava bean salad
The movie, silence of the lambs brought fava beans into the lime light. Hannibal Lecter likes fava beans with a nice chianti wine.
That said, the classic red wine from Tuscany really pairs well with fava beans but we also enjoy a good white wine with our fava beans.
After you have removed your beans from the pods, you can keep them in the fridge raw for up to 2-3 days.
To store unshelled beans for a longer period of time, you can either freeze or dry your beans.
Either way, wash your beans first to get rid of impurities and pat dry.
To freeze your beans, place them raw into a vacuum bag and place the full bag into your freezer. Use within 8 months.
To dry them, you will need a dehydrator. Spread them out on the dehydrator racks and dry them completely.
Drying them will take at least 10+ hours.
To use dried broad beans, soak them in water over night and use as directed
You can peel frozen or dried (and then cooked) broad beans too. You will feel the peel going off easily the same way as with fresh broad beans.
Only small young and peeled fava beans should be eaten raw. They are a nutritious delicacy in Italy.
No, you don’t have to, it’s optional. Some people prefer them shelled because they can digest them easier.
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How to blanch and peel fava beans
- Fava Beans
- Water to cook and to cool
- Ice cubes to add to water to cool
- Open your fava bean pods by " unzipping" the pods from the tip downwards. The string in the shell will guide you.
- Force open the pod with your nails and take out the beans. Collect the beans in a mixing bowl and just rinse them real quick in some water.
- Heat up a small pot with water and wait for the water to boil.
- Place the beans into the hot cooking water and cook them for about 1 minute. That's called blanching and it will help you to remove the skin.
- Take the beans out immediately from the hot water and place them into a bowl prepared with ice cubes and water. That will stop the cooking process.
- The shell with come off easily. Just peel each bean until you have done them all.
- Collect peeled beans in a bowl and use further in a recipe of your choice.
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