A guaranteed sign of spring around Erickson Ranch is the ripening of our fava Beans. Mothers Day has always been the traditional first picking of this delicious bean. For those that don’t know or haven’t heard of fava beans be sure not to confuse them with lima beans. Personally, I like a fresh lima but they are hard to come by and unfortunately for those of my generation the only lima was a canned lima. The fava looks similar to a lima but that is where the comparison ends.
I will be honest and say that I had neither heard of nor tasted fava beans until I married Ray. I was introduced to the Mothers Day tradition in this Italian family of picking, preparing and eating a lovely helping of beans with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. It only took one taste and I was hooked. We look forward to the harvest of the fava bean as spring comes to an end and the summer season begins.
The beans are planted the end of November and are ready to harvest on Mothers Day. They don’t all ripen at one time and several harvests can be made from the patch-lucky us! They grow a bit over 4 feet tall and it is fun to wade through the bean patch on a warm spring day and fill your bucket with the long soft pods.
Once picked, find a comfortable chair and table and plan to sit for a while as you remove the beans from the pods. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to a simmer. The beans are firm and are a beautiful shade of spring green. Once podded, the outer skin needs to be removed before they are eaten. To do this, pour the podded fava beans into the simmering water allowing the water to come to a rolling boil. Once the outer skin turns darker green and begins to wrinkle a bit in the water (maybe 5 minutes) pour into a colander and rinse with cold water. Allow to cool until you can handle them. This step is often hard for us to wait for because we want to complete the process as we know how delicious the final product is! Once cool the outer skin can be removed revealing the deliciousness inside. Simply pinch one end of the outer shell and the bean within will slip out into the waiting bowl.
Though there are many ways to prepare a fava bean we have a tendency to do the same recipe each and every year. We fill the bowl with favas, pour our favorite olive oil and vinegar, salt and pepper to taste, mix gently and DIG IN!!
The fava beans are ripe before the fruit stand opens and though we distribute the bulk of them to a local restaurant please come by if you would like to enjoy a walk in the garden, pick a bucketful and learn the secret we have known for years.
Visit the link below for a great history of Fava Beans as well as some great recipes.
Fava Beans: A Little Spring On Your Plate