"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Full of Beans Part 2 - My Favorite Fava


I was origionally introduced to the fava, also called broad bean, maybe five years ago. At first we only used them for a most delicious hummus that was spread over freshly baked breads but over time we have been treating them more as a dried bean and really enjoy the flavor they impart as an addition to soup or simply cooked and added to a salad. A most versatile bean.


This member of the pea family is quite possibly my very favorite bean...hmm, my favorite bean is a pea of sorts, very interesting. Anyway, they are my favorite not only because of their tantalizing flavor but cold hardy and enduring nature. When all other beans are still struggling to germinate in spring's often still cold soil, favas are already well under way. They will easily tolerate frost and below freezing conditions.

Planted early enough, and if the weather is not too hot, a second late fall crop is also a possibility from a new planting or the original that has been cut back after harvest, producing an influx of new beans. We have never replanted them, but have had some success with cutting them back and being rewarded with a much smaller second crop if the weather holds long enough. Mostly, we focus on the original crop that always seems to exceed our every expectation come hell or high water. Literally, this bean has managed to provide for us not only during the hottest summers but also thrives during the cold harsh wet ones.


The mature pods can be picked for fresh beans that we use in hummus and stir frys but most are simply left to dry on the vine.


The roots themselves fix nitrogen into the garden's soil making them an excellent cover crop. Notice the little round nitrogen filled nodules on our fava roots.

27 comments:

Heiko said...

I'm with you on that Mike, best bean there is. We can't do a second crop, because it gets attacked by blackfly as soon as it warms up, but it is always the first fresh crop of the spring, which makes them even more welcome (ours overwinter happily and the earlier I plant them the fewer problems I have with blackfly). Fresh they are best steamed lightly then with some olive oil, lemon juice, a grating of pepper and some parmesan on pasta. Hmmm the flavour of spring!

LynnS said...

From the looks of it, you ARE full of beans! I may have to try this bean -- one of the only beans I've never grown before. The thought of hummus w/ that bean sounds too good to pass up.

It's pouring rain here. Again. Later a wintry mix. Again. Soup's on and it's almost lunchtime. Some of that hummus spread on the homemade rolls would have been perfect.

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

Ours have to overwinter in a jar but they are my favorite dry bean. I will have to try them over pasta like you do next year. That sounds tasty and I have never thought of trying them that way.

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

We are full of beans alright. You must try them, they will love your rainy weather. They are also a most beautiful plant with unique foliage, some with white flowers and others with red (crimson fava)...a type I have yet to try.

Too bad about all your rain, we have had cold but dry weather and I have really been enjoying it.

Well I had better get it in gear as it's almost time to send the boy off to the fire station to see Santa.:)

Vickie's Michigan Garden (my backyard) said...

Mr. H.,
All of your beans sound fantastic-we really do need to look in to growing more beans in our garden besides green beans!
Makes me want to look up soup recipes. Only in the last few years have I tried humus and loved it -that recipe I will have to look up also. Then there is the pasta it just all sounds delicious
vickie

Naomi said...

These sound like they would be a great winter bean for us, planted early autumn when it isn't too hot and grown throughtout the mild winters :)

This is why I lvoe coming to your blog, there are always so many things I haven't tried before!

It's me ...Mavis said...

My grandmother used to serve fava beans with a tomato sauce... I don't remember liking them as a kid... but perhaps I will give them another try.

And another thing... it appears you are becoming quite the seed saver. Are those beans in old quart size mayo jars or gallon jars? Just curious.

Mr. H. said...

Vickie,

Our hummus is as simple as cooked and skinned beans, salt, olive oil, and garlic...very good. As I am learning, there are indeed a lot of different varieties of beans out there, that's for sure.

Mr. H. said...

Naomi,

You know, I bet they would do exceptionally well for you during the winter months. They love to grow at temperatures between 40F(4C) and 75F(24C) but can handle much colder and warmer temperatures as well.

Mr. H. said...

Mavis,

When I was growing up my parents had a small garden and I hated almost all of the veggies especially green beans. Strange how that works out.

Them's eatin beans in the gallon jars.:) All our seed beans are kept seperately.

Ayak said...

I love broad beans, but I've never found them here. I like the sound of using them for hummus..I bet it's delicious.

Ruralrose said...

Great post, I heard these were somewhat poisonous so I have stayed away. Haven't gotten to the ice age link you sent yet (the weekends are for warcraft and my teenage son) but looking forward to it tonight. Still no snow, supposed to have a heat spell by the weekend, peace

Mr. H. said...

Ayak,

The hummus is pretty good, we didn't make near enough of it this year. I suppose that many of the crops grown in Turkey are much different than what we grow?

Mr. H. said...

Ruralrose,

Supposedly if you are of Mediterranean decent you can get "favism" from eating the beans but it is pretty rare for anyone else to have issues with this.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-favism.htm

Ayak said...

Yes Mr H...the vegetables here are different. I particularly miss parsnips and brussel sprouts which I can't find. The vegetables we have are also so huge. Massive cabbages that could feed an army. Radishes the size of footballs. Of course we have the basic veg that everyone gets like carrots...but we also get those purple carrots which are very tasty.

Mr. H. said...

Ayak,

That's a big radish!

Ayak said...

Yes too big Mr H. The taste isn't so good when they are allowed to grow for too long. The small marble sized ones are very bitter here. Apparently the best flavour comes from tennis or cricket-sized radishes. We grate them in salad and mix with grated carrot.

83843 said...

I've been following your blog for months and really enjoy it. Your insight has proven valuable since I relocated to Northern ID two years ago and have struggled to learn Zone 5 gardening! I'm going to try dry beans next year and was wondering if you freeze what you harvest for food-use to kill any insects/eggs that may be in the beans?

Mr. H. said...

Hello 83843,

Welcome to Northern Idaho! My advice with growing beans would be to not plant them too early except for fava beans which can be planted as soon as you can work the soil.

I have never had any issue with bugs in our dry beans, and no we don't freeze them. We have had issues with bugs in dried walnuts and peas before though.

I've read that you can store your dried beans in the freezer for 48 hours (or as long as you like) and even add a hot pepper to the jar to prevent infestation. I have not tried this, but suppose the freezer method would work well. Stay warm:)

Mike

Frugilegus said...

These were a staple from my parents' veg garden when I was growing up. Always boiled and served plain, I hated them so much. I'm a fan now though - especially with the addition of lemon and garlic, orwith a bit of spice for delicious dried snacks too. I missed them this year, so will be soon putting some in for an early crop next year.

Mr. H. said...

Frugilegus,

It is funny how so many of the things we dislike as a child come back to us as "likes" in adulthood. We never had fava beans growing up but I do remember not liking green beans.

risa said...

And the leaves are pretty good in salads ... we haven't been lucky with germination of our saved broad beans but the smaller "field bean" favas have been very reliable -- from a handful given to us a decade ago, to a gallon and a half left over from all the cooking and eating, this year. We find we can interplant them with with everything, from potatoes to corn, in our no-till polyculture.

Mr. H. said...

Risa,

Thank you for sharing, I did not realize that you could eat the leaves, I will try them for sure. We are always looking for something different to jazz up our salads. I'll have to look into the smaller fava beans you are talking about. We interplant our large ones everywhere as well.

Mike

Stefaneener said...

I know Denise grows favas, but I never have. Not a huge fan of the way favas are usually made here; maybe I should try them dried.

I think it's interesting how things we hated as children become wanted later in life. For me, it's neatness. . .

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener,

I think they are perhaps my favorite dry bean especially if mixed with a variety of other beans when cooked. That is how most of ours are used.

hughesmaxwell said...

When you implement dried Favas into your diet does the waxy skin around the embryo taste bitter? I know it does when I eat fresh Favas I haven't peeled.

Any suggested methods of preparing? I've made green hummus before. Is it possible with dry beans?

Mr. H. said...

hughsmaxwell - I myself am not a huge fan of the fresh fava beans due to the bitter flavor and my unwillingness to peal each and every bean.:) That said, I personally don't think the dried beans impart any of the bitterness of the unpealed fresh ones, we absolutely love the flavor of the dried ones in soups and refried beans. The dry beans can easily be reconstituted and used for hummus as well, we have done this and it is quite good. Hope you get a chance to try them as dried beans...especially as refries or in soup. If you do, let me know what you think.:)

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