This is the first year we’ve grown fava beans (also known as broad beans). They overwinter here in our warmer climate and we have been nothing but happy with this new addition to the homestead. We ate a lot of the fava bean leaves over the winter in salads and soups. Once spring weather came on, the plants shot up and flowered, making me wonder how my clothesline nearby could smell so lovely as I hung the laundry – it was the fava bean flowers!
We’ve had three small bean harvests thus far. The first harvest I went ahead and shelled the beans and then blanched them, which is something I had read about in order to get the “bitter” outer skin off the small bean itself. Stewart then did some more research and found that many don’t bother with this second step. So the other two harvests I went ahead and let the children shell them (they love that job) and then just cooked them up.
They aren’t huge at this stage but we didn’t detect any bitterness at all. From our research you can also let them dry and eat them as a dried bean. I also recommend rinsing them after shelling, depending on the state of your sheller’s hands. 😉
Once shelled I cooked them as I would a green bean or fresh lima bean. A quick toss into the pasta water at the end of cooking time or a last minute addition to a jambalaya was just the five or ten minutes they needed to tenderize while still maintaining structural integrity.
We recently ordered sweet potato slips so this week or next we will be chopping down the bean stalks and harvesting whatever remains. Lord willing, Stewart wants to plant much more this fall as they have contributed to winter and spring meals as well as a great deal of organic matter that will be chopped and dropped right back into the chicken field.