Preparing Fava Beans

April 29, 2008

Preparing Fava Beans

The fava bean (or the broad bean) has been cultivated
from China to the Mediterranean Sea for thousands of
years, and is an integral part of those cuisines. The beans
are eaten as a fresh vegetable when picked early in the
season and as a dried bean when allowed to mature on
the vine. Fresh fava beans are a wonderful addition to
many spring and summer dishes. They are packed with
fiber and protein and are a good source of folate and
minerals like zinc, phosphorous, iron and magnesium.

To prepare fresh fava beans, break open each pod and
run your thumb along its fluffy interior; the beans will
easily pop out. The pods aren’t edible, so just add them
to the compost pile. Next, you have to remove the skins
of the beans. The skin can be bitter and a bit tough. If
you get very small pods, you can get away with cooking
and eating the beans with their skins intact; but most of
the time, you have to remove them. [Editor’s note: my
chickens like to eat the skins.]

To remove the skins, bring a large pot of salted water to
a boil. When the water comes to a full boil, add the fava
beans and cook them for approximately thirty seconds.
Drain the beans and cool them down. Next comes the
decidedly time-consuming process of peeling each bean.
There is a dark green, thick ridge on the rounded side of
the bean-starting there, pinch the skin and pull it open.

Once the skin opens a bit you can squeeze the bottom
and the bean slips out. I like to peel them right into a
bowl or storage container. Once the beans are peeled,
they are ready to enjoy.

A simple way to serve them is with melted butter, lemon
juice, and salt.

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