When it comes to Fava Beans, patience has it’s rewards. I love these beans, only available in the Spring, they are a seasonal treat. Debbie Palmer (Live Earth Farm’s first CSA coordinator) developed a recipe database, still available to members – thank you Debbie 🙂 – chockfull with amazing recipes and cooking tips. Here is what she recommends on how to handle Favas:
When to eat fava pods whole, when to shell them, and when to skin the beans inside
Here’s my rule of thumb: while the pods are still nice and green and smooth, and the beans inside are relatively small, eat ‘em pod and all (see recipe ideas in database). Even if the beans inside are starting to looking big enough to eat on their own, if the pods are still in good shape I’m cool with eating the favas pods and all (but if you prefer to shell them, shell away; it’s up to you). Once the pods get big and kind of warty-looking (which they do!), I’d definitely shell ‘em.
In a similar vein, the question of whether to peel the beans inside is up to you (and maybe depends on how you’re going to use them). I skin ‘em or not kind of according to my mood. If they’re really big, I generally peel them, but if they’re small, I often don’t bother. If you’re going to be using them whole in a pasta dish or soup or something, it’s six one way half-dozen the other. If you’re going to be making a puree or spread though, you’ll want to skin them first. It’s a texture and a taste thing (as well as an appearance thing). Try it both ways and see what you like best! The skinned beans are a prettier bright green, versus the skin-still-on beans, which are a paler green.