The broad bean season is largely over now (unless you invest in the new autumn-cropping variety, Luz de Otono), but every time I pod my beans I ponder how much waste is going straight onto the compost heap. Broad beans have to be some of the best packaged seeds in the plant world, with a thick pod filled with fluffy wadding.
There are various ways to make more of the broad bean harvest:
- Pinch out the leafy tops and eat them as spinach. This is recommended as a way of discouraging black fly, and apparently the greens are nice raw when they’re very young; I prefer mine lightly fried. Remove any excess stem, it’s a bit too fibrous to be pleasant.
- Eat some of the flowers. This will cut down on your bean harvest, but they make a pretty addition to salads in the spring. I prefer to leave them for the bees, though, they’re a good source of nectar. Have you taken a sniff? They’re fragrant, although you have to get in close.
- You can eat the whole pods young, the bean equivalent of mangetout, although they have a softer texture rather than a crunch.
- Eat the pods. Once you’ve shelled beans, you can eat the pods, and there are various recipes on the internet to show you how (some are listed below).
- If you miss any pods and end up with overly mature beans, then dry them and use them for sprouting – you can eat broad bean shoots in the same way you’d use pea shoots.
- Broad beans fix nitrogen. You can dig the remains of the plants into the soil as a green manure, rather than removing them to the compost heap.
Broad bean pod recipes
There are some recipes that involve cooking broad beans (also known as fava beans) in their pods, and then shelling them once they’re cooked (a bit like edamame), but these are recipes for eating the pods themselves: