Fava beans are technically peas - green-tinged and shaped like lima beans with a deep crease along one side. They’re protein-rich and are classically used in Asian and Mediterranean dishes, including falafel and “fool medames” (Egyptian).
Favas are also known as broad beans, Windsor beans, horse beans, pigeon beans, and “ful.” The dried, skinned beans are called “habas.”
In season, fresh and tender beans can be found at some grocery stores. Pinch the closed pods to be sure the beans are firm. The skin may be blemished, which occurs during picking, but should not bear dark spots. Five pounds of puffy pods will yield only 3 cups of beans after cooking and peeling. Year-round, they’re available canned, frozen, or dried for long-term storage.
Refrigerate fresh, in-season beans and prepare within one week. Once cooked, all fava beans should be used or frozen within two days.
• Dried beans will double in volume when cooked.
• Mature fresh beans have a tough skin that can be removed easily by blanching.
• Younger beans do not need to be shelled; the pod is quite tender.
• Note that for some individuals, exposure to raw fava beans may cause a serious allergic reaction known as “favism,” which is a genetic disorder.
• Fava beans typically require a longer cooking time than most beans.
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