Fava Beans (About)

Fava Beans in Shell

Fava Beans in Shell

by Cat, Aug 2010 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons (3))

Includes: 1.  Fava Basics (1a. Shelling & skinning fresh favas; 1b. Skinning dried favas; 1c. Sprouting favas); 2. Basic cooked dried favas

See also: 1. Beans & Other Legumes: Soaking & Sprouting2Vegetarian & Bean Menu; 3.  Sautéed Fresh Favas; Other sites: 4. Emily Skinner Bean Recipes (2); 5. The Vegan Gourmet on dried beans & peas (great reference! (3))

Favas are another food my Greek friends in Portland introduced me to.  I love Middle Eastern foods, and favas are a favorite in this cuisine.

I’ve never had fresh favas before, and have always used commercially canned favas. But my friend Marc here in Bigfork gave me some fava pods fresh from his garden, so I’m about to learn how to prepare them.

Favas have an outer pod (left side of photo, above), and then a waxy skin around each bean (the white covering in photo, above), that must be removed before you can eat them, although really young beans can be eaten with the tender skin that has not yet grown thick and waxy.

Favas have other names, too: broad beanfava beanfaba beanfield beanbell bean, butter bean, haba bean, English or Windsor bean, ful, or foul (4). Canned favas are often labeled by their Arabic name: Ful Mudammes or Foul Medammes. See Fava Knows Best (from Sundance Natural Foods (1)) for helpful information.

Fava Basics

Favas can be used fresh, or dried for long-term storage, then rehydrated and cooked.

Shelling and Skinning Fresh Favas

  1. First you need to remove the beans from the pod. This is easy enough; just tear off the end and pull on the attached strip to open the pod, then scoop out the beans.
  2. But they’re still not edible, as each bean has an unpleasant outer shell that must be removed. You can remove this without blanching or steaming, but it’s easier if they are blanched/steamed first. I prefer steaming. Place the beans on the rack of your steamer over steaming water for a minute, just until the outer shell wrinkles a bit. Don’t steam more than a minute, or the bean inside will start to get mushy.
  3. Remove and shock with ice water, then remove the outer shell by squeezing lightly on one end.

See Chef In You blog (2) for more details, with great photos. Chowhound discussion group (3) has this entry on shelling favas:

Paula Wolfert has a net [sic] trick for peeling mature favas without blanching. Put the shelled, unpeeled beans in a tight-fitting Ziploc bag and freeze (up to four months) until an hour or so before you plan to use them. Then, while the beans are still frozen, slip them out of their skins. An alternate method she suggests (and that I haven’t tried) is to steam the beans in their pods and then double-peel them under running cold water, removing the skins along with the pods. The disadvantage of this later method is that the beans have to be used immediately or they turn slimy.

Skinning Dried Favas

I’ve never used dried favas, only fresh, so this information has not been tested or verified. Dried favas have been removed form the pod but still have that waxy outer shell that must be removed before cooking. This is most easily done by soaking the dried beans overnight, to soften the bean and its waxy shell. Then remove the shell as you would for fresh favas (above)

Using shelled favas

Once they’re shelled, what can you do with them? Fresh, they can be cooked with some butter as you would lima beans or peas. Add them to a salad! Mash and season them, such as for a bean dip called bissara. Make fava falafel, or a tasty casserole.

Sprouting favas

Dried or fresh favas can be sprouted. If using fresh, remove from shell, but don’t remove the waxy shell or skin (the germ is attached to the skin). If using dried, soak them overnight first, in acidic water (1 Tbsp lemon juice per quart of water). Then rinse.

Place beans in sprouting jar. Cover with cloth, as sprouting happens in the dark. Rinse 2 – 3 times a day; it takes about 3 days for them to show a tiny tail, though in warm weather, this may only take 2 days.

See Life123 (5) or Egypt Farm (6) for details. Sprouted favas should be cooked before eating.

Basic cooked favas

You can use either fresh or dried favas to cook this way, but if using fresh, skip the part about presoaking, and they will not need as long to cook. Both fresh and dried favas have a waxy outer skin that needs to be removed before cooking (see above; see also Eating Rules.com: How not to cook (dried) favas (7) for details).

Generally for dried beans, 1 pound = 2 cup dried beans, and makes about 4 – 5 cups cooked. Try cooking up a big batch, then canning or freezing the extra for future use. This is especially useful if you are vegetarian and use a lot of favas for things like falafel, etc..

You can also sprout them first; see above.

NOTE: ½ pound dried beans (about 1 cup) yields 3 cups cooked. Alternately, 1 cup cooked requires 2.6 oz (about ⅓ cup) dried beans.

Refer to Basic Cooked Beans, Peas for instructions


  1. Fava Knows Best (efn.org/~sundance/FavaBean.html)
  2. Chef In You blog: How to cook Favas (chefinyou.com/2009/05/how-to-cook-fava-beans)
  3. Chowhound discussion group on shelling favas (chowhound.chow.com/topics/285248)
  4. Cooks Thesauraus on dried beans (foodsubs.com/Beans.html)
  5. Life123 on sprouting favas (life123.com/home-garden/vegetable-gardening-2/legumes/how-to-sprout-fava-beans.shtml)
  6. Egypt Farm on eating fava sprouts (egyptfarm.blogspot.com/2009/03/eating-fava-bean-sprouts.html)
  7. EatingRules.com: How not to cook (dried) fava (eatingrules.com/2011/03/how-not-to-cook-fava-beans)

About Cat

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