shelling and peeling fresh fava beans

After accumulating 8 1/2 pounds of fava beans from our last two CSA shares . . .

. . . with each pod measuring about an inch across and at least half a foot long . . .

. . . I knew it was time to do something with these ginormous legumes.  I had a vague notion that there was something trickier than usual about these beans, and so I Googled the Interwebs and checked my cookbooks for information on what to do with these beans.  (World Vegetarian by Madhur Jafrey, page 198, provided the clearest explanation.)  I learned that preparing fresh fava beans for use in a recipe is a two-part process.

First, remove the beans from their pods.  This is like shelling peas but a bit trickier because the pods are thick with a white, spongy insulation.  Generally, I was able to open the pods by snapping the stem, “unzipping” the pods down the side, and then using my fingernails to pry the pods open from the seam.  A neatly opened pod looked like this:

Many of the long pods did not open so neatly and I had to tear them apart to extract the beans.  I recruited my husband to assist me with shelling the favas after I had been at this for about an hour.

step 1 completed: shelled fava beans

The second step is to peel the beans.  The bright yellowish-green beans are beautiful but they aren’t palatable until their bitter, woody shells are removed.  (I tasted an unpeeled bean and confirmed this.  Yuck!)  To do this, I blanched the beans by boiling them in water for about 4 minutes and then submerging them in a bowl full of in ice water to stop the cooking process.

All my sources instructed me to “peel the beans” at this point, but it was not readily apparent how to do this.  I tried squeezing a bean to force it out of its peel but ended up with–well, a squished bean.  The skin was thicker than I had thought!  I next tried tearing the end of the bean with my fingernail and then squeezing it, and this time I found success.  So here is how to peel the blanched beans:

peeling favas -- step 2A: tear the end with a fingernail

peeling favas — step 2B: squeeze out the bean

I know this sounds tedious.  It is.  But I got the hang of it and got faster at it, especially after my husband joined me in the effort!

In the end, we had a mound of whitish-green peels . . .

. . . and 2 pounds of beautiful, bright green fava beans!

I’m not gonna lie — shelling and peeling fava beans is a lot of work.  But they are tasty (similar to edamame).  They have a short growing season, and so I suppose I could make this effort once or twice a year.  🙂

Now the beans are ready to eat or use in a recipe!


2 responses to “shelling and peeling fresh fava beans

  1. Pingback: fava bean recipes | knife, whisk & spoon

  2. Pingback: homemade fava bean ravioli | knife, whisk & spoon

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