Five Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Fava Beans

Five Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About Fava Beans
Posted April 6, 2015

Spring is a wonderful time to go to the farmers’ market and pick up some fresh spring veggies. Peas, fava beans, spring onions, and baby vegetables are perfect right now. Young fava beans are delicious right now. Here are some interesting tidbits about favas.

1. The 6th century B.C. philosopher Pythagoras condemned the fava bean and would not let his followers eat it. It was thought that they contained the souls of the dead.

2. The cultivation of fava beans is so old that there is no known wild form of this bean. It has been used in Chinese cooking for at least 5,000 years.

3. The name 'broad bean' refers to the seeds, which are large and flat. They’re also called faba beans, broad beans, horse beans, and field beans.

4. Some people have a hereditary allergic reaction to fava beans called Favism (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency). Certain substances in the bean can lead to anemia.

5. Favas were also the original bean in the traditional 12th night cake. Some branches of Christianity celebrate the “Twelve Days of Christmas.” The 12th night marks the coming of the epiphany. The beans were considered good luck.

Shelling fresh fava beans can be time consuming but well-worth the delicious beans inside. First, bring a pot of water to a boil before you start opening the pods. Break open the bean pods. Sometimes you can slide your finger along one side, opening the seam as you would a zipper, but other times you just have to break the pod apart in pieces. Once the water is boiling, blanch the favas in boiling water for one minute, then scoop them out and plunge them into a bowl of ice water. This will loosen the skins so they're easier to remove. Favas have one wider, slightly flattened end with a scar where it was attached to the shell. Grasp the fava between your fingers with the scar facing up, and with the thumbnail of your other hand, tear into the scar end and peel back. Pinch gently and the fava will slide right out.* *

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