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Here's what to know about this ancient broad bean.

By Lauren David
March 04, 2021
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What Are Fava Beans?

Fava Beans, also known as broad beans, are considered some of the oldest cultivated legumes, dating as far back as 6000 BCE. They are a popular bean in many cuisines, including the Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, African, and South American.

pile of fresh fava beans out of their pods
Credit: Getty Images

These broad beans crop up in spring where you'll find them neatly piled up on farmers' market stands and in the produce section of the grocery store. But the season is short, so if you don't act quickly, you're likely to miss out because they won't be available for long.

Fava beans are nestled inside fuzzy chartreuse green pods that hold the wide, flat, tough, light green beans inside. They can be labor intensive to prepare, especially since they are typically cooked without their pods. Fresh fava beans can be prepared in a myriad of ways: blanched, sautéed, steamed, boiled, or fried — as well as added to stews, soups, and salads, or even made into a dip.

What Do Fava Beans Taste Like?

Fava beans are often described as having a nutty and buttery flavor and a creamy and silky texture once cooked, but some people may pick up on hints of bitterness. Dried fava beans tend to be milder in flavor and are often compared to chickpeas.

fresh fava beans in their pods and an opened pod
Credit: Meredith

How to Store Fava Beans

Fresh beans still in the pod can be kept in the fridge in a plastic bag or container for up to 10 days. Once the beans have been shelled, they won't keep too long— two days in a sealed container. Otherwise, you can freeze them for upwards of one month. If you've purchased dried fava beans, they can be stored for around a year as long as they are kept in an airtight container.

How to Prep Fresh Fava Beans

shelling fresh fava beans
Credit: Meredith

Because you don't (usually) eat the pod, fresh fava beans need to be shelled, blanched, and peeled, making them time-consuming and labor intensive to prep. But once you've done the prep work, they're ready to go.

  1. Shelling. The easiest way to open the pods is to snap off one end and you'll notice a seam, which you can pull or open as if it were a zipper. Each pod has around four to five beans.
  2. Blanching: After shelling the beans, you need to blanch and shock the beans so you can peel them. Blanching and shocking the beans — immersing the beans in boiling water for 30 seconds and then in a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking — can help loosen the skin that envelopes the bean.
  3. Peeling: Pinch the blanched bean to pop the skin and then peel it off using your forefinger and thumb.

How to Cook Fava Beans

bowl of fava beans with chili pepper flakes
Credit: Meredith

Cooking Fresh Fava Beans

If you don't want to face all the prep work, you don't have to create an elaborate preparation to eat these beauties. You can snack on raw beans and enjoy the nutty flavor. Smaller, thinner broad beans are more tender and can be simply sautéed in their pod with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkled with a bit of salt.

Fava beans can be prepared in a multitude of ways: You can add them to a stew, toss them onto a salad, or make a soup. Eat it as a breakfast spread, make a Green Risotto with Fava Bean Risotto, create a Foul Medammes, a spicy fava bean dip, or a Fava Bean and Butter Bean salad.

Cooking Dried Fava Beans

If you have dried beans, you'll save yourself the prep time and can prepare them just as you would other types of dried beans — by soaking overnight. Once you've let them soak, you can cook them up in any way you like.

Fava Bean
Credit: Meredith

Fava Beans Might Not Be for Everyone

It should be noted that broad beans are known to be a trigger food for those with G6PF, hereditary enzymatic deficiency. If you have been diagnosed with this deficiency, do not eat fava beans.

Explore our collection of fava bean recipes.