Fava Beans – 3 good reasons to grow them in your garden

Fava Beans – 3 good reasons to grow them in your garden

Fava beans, also known as broad beans or Windsor beans, seem to be an overlooked choice for many gardeners. I believe the reason for this is that many people don’t even know if they like eating them! Because once one discovers their clean, slightly nutty, satisfying taste, and the fact that they are so easy to grow, these odd bean giants become an obvious choice when selecting the next year’s plantings. The reason I’m telling you this now (in November!) is, if you live in a mild winter region like I do, NOW is the time to plant them! Yes in late fall or even early winter, as long as the ground can still be worked.

So if you have never really thought about growing them, or haven’t even heard of these garden treasures, I’m going to give you some reasons to grow fava beans and have a sure garden success!

1. Fava beans taste great!

There is a bit of a process to cook them (I will explain below), but you will find they are well worth the effort, so just do it…you’ll be glad. The part you eat looks something like a large bean-shaped pea. They have a green, grassy, slightly nutty flavor that I think is like no other bean. The first time I grew them I cooked my whole harvest and ate them with butter, like peas. They were delicious. But I have since found that throwing them on a salad so you kind of have to search for them, is my favorite way to eat them. It makes every bean special and then your harvest isn’t gone in one meal!

2. You can plant them in fall and forget about them

That’s right. If you live in a milder area like the Pacific Northwest you can plant them now and they will quietly do their thing all throughout the winter. Even if they sprout and start growing before everything warms up, they will be okay. I’ve had my new fava bean plants endure snow and they just kept right on growing! It’s so nice in the spring to be ahead of the game and have something already growing. And you feel like you didn’t do a thing! I feel so accomplished to have a harvest when everyone else is just getting started with planting. Your fava beans will also like being all done before the weather gets too hot.

If you live in a colder climate you can still have great success and plant them in early spring. Plant them at the same time you would plant peas and you should have a harvest around the same time as other early legumes.

bowl of big whole fava beans

3. A great garden success for kids

First of all, the colossal seeds are really easy seed for kids to manage. The plants themselves grow to a good size, so watching them develop is satisfying and their fast growth is quite noticeable. They often need some kind of support because they can grow to be as tall as small children! I just stake around the outside of the bed, then run string around the stakes and it keeps them all from falling over.

The fava plants are not finicky. Other than watering and staking them, I have never had to do much else. Planting them in the fall/winter is great too, because then when kids are impatient waiting for other spring veggies to be ready, the favas are way ahead of everything else. The beans are huge and really easy to spot and pick. Bringing in a basket of huge beans will make anyone feel proud. The beans need to be shelled, and this a wonderful thing to get kids to do. The inside of the pod is soft and fuzzy, and the beans are nestled inside. Kids love to remove the beans, which is great because it’s easy to enlist help in the preparation!

open fava bean pod showing beans inside

How to Prepare Fava Beans –

  • After picking your big beautiful beans you need to get the actual bean out of the shell. This is super easy because they are so big. Get some water boiling and a bowl of ice water ready while you get someone (kids) to remove them from their soft furry lining.

  • Next, you drop all those beans that you shelled into the boiling water. Here you will be only blanching them long enough for the tough skins to slip off. So wait for the water to come back to a boil and then go for 2-3 minutes at a full boil.
  • Then strain them out of the boiling water and drop them into the ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain them again and start removing the skins. The skins should slip off easily now that they are blanched, leaving you a delectable little bean. Now that wasn’t so bad….was it?
  • At this point you can re-heat them in the hot water. Do this if you want to eat them hot with melted butter. (Yum!) Or put them in the refrigerator to have ready to put on a salad or anything else your heart desires. This is my favorite way.

shelled fava beans before blanching
Beans before blanching
blanched fava bean skins and finished beans
Fava skins and finished beans

I hope the prep didn’t scare you and this is enough to get you to give these big beans a try, because they really are ridiculously easy to grow, and they’re super delicious! If you do try them I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

And if you like trying new veggies, check out my post about parsnips! Because if you haven’t fallen in love with them, you probably haven’t tried parsnip fries!

Botanical Interests is one of my favorite sources for good quality seeds including Fava Windsor Broad Beans.

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