Broad beans are in season in the UK from the end of June to the middle of September.

They have a pale green pod which, when cracked open, reveals a fleecy lining, home to the large, flattish beans. They’re a good source of protein, carbohydrates and vitamins; for more information see our broad bean glossary page.

Broad beans have a casing that can be tough and bitter, especially when the beans are fully grown. If you pinch a bean between your fingertips and squeeze, the bright green inner bean should break through the casing. This is known as double podding, because you’re removing the outer main pod and the tough skin from the individual bean.

This process takes a little time, but it’s worth it as the beans inside are sweet and fresh. If you’re in a hurry, the flavour of broad beans works harmoniously with other seasonal greens like asparagus or peas – so you can bulk out the quantities and save time on double podding.

Contents

Blanching method

To make double podding easier, try cooking the unpeeled beans in boiling water for two minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool them quickly, then use your nail to break into each bean and remove the tough skin.

Basic broad bean recipe

Serves 4

  • 300g podded broad beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • few mint leaves
  1. Tip the podded beans into a pan of boiling water and cook for two minutes. Drain and cover with cold water to cool, then drain again and peel the outer skin from the beans.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. If you’d like a softer texture, use a potato masher to crush a few of the broad beans. Fold in the mint leaves.
  3. Serve on toast with shavings of pecorino or parmesan, or as an accompaniment to lamb, halloumi or fish.

Top 5 broad bean recipes:

Tomato, burrata & broad bean salad

Try a simple salad of ripe tomatoes and burrata, slathered with a broad bean-flecked salsa verde.

Tomato, burrata & broad bean salad

Pork chops with broad bean & minted Jersey smash

Make the most of seasonal summer ingredients with pan-fried pork chops served alongside colourful broad beans, spring onions, mint and Jersey Royal potatoes.

Pork chops with broad bean & minted Jersey smash

Lamb lollipops with smashed minty broad beans

These griddled cutlets should be eaten like drumsticks, making this bright, fresh dish ideal for a sharing platter.

Lamb lollipops with smashed minty broad beans

Chilli broad bean fritters with homemade labneh

Enjoy a light lunch or dinner party starter of falafel-like patties served over labneh, a creamy Middle-Eastern strained yogurt cheese.

Chilli broad bean fritters with homemade labneh

Sausage & veg one-pot

A lighter casserole packed with green veg including fennel, broad beans, peas and green beans, served in a creamy basil and parsley sauce.

Sausage & veg one-pot

Find more brilliant bean recipes…

Broad bean recipe collection
What to do with broad beans
Green bean recipe collection
Green bean salad recipe collection

What are your favourite broad bean recipes? Leave a comment below…

Top Of The Crops – Broadbeans

Broad beans are a fantastically rewarding crop to grow. Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve had an allotment for years, broad beans tick all the boxes.
The broad beans we can buy in the supermarkets always seem a little underwhelming. They are too big and floury and lack flavour. When you grow your own, you can pick them when they are young, tender and flavourful.

Growing Broad Beans in Polytunnels

Although you can sow broad beans outside in the autumn, the success rate can be poor. The young broad bean plants can be wiped out by cold weather and pounding winter rain. Unfortunately, the hardier varieties of broad bean tend to have the least flavour.

Growing broad beans in a polytunnel immediately gives you more options. You may choose to sow your broad beans in spring. The polytunnel will extend your growing season by weeks. You could sow your spring broad beans as early as February in a polytunnel. If a cold snap is forecast, our cloche, mini polytunnel or horticultural fleece will give your young plants extra protection.

You might prefer to sow your broad beans in the autumn in the polytunnel. The extra protection means you can get your young plants through the winter and enjoy an early crop next spring. Our 6ft x 8ft (1.83m x 2.44m) polytunnel will fit into the smallest garden and increase your growing options. The polytunnel is extremely versatile, with options for placing it on soil, timber or concrete. You could be harvesting your first broad beans in April from seeds sown in September.

Successional sowing is key with broad beans. Each plant can produce many pods. To avoid being overrun with broad beans, stagger your sowing from early to late spring. You could still be harvesting beans in September from sowings in June.

The extra-large seeds are supremely easy to sow – just push them into the soil or into a pot of compost. The seeds are packed full of energy and will usually germinate with no problems at all. Children absolutely love growing broad beans. They’re not fiddly or fussy to sow. The plants grow quickly enough to keep even little ones’ attention, not to mention adults.

The polytunnel will also protect the mature plants from damaging winds. The fully grown broad bean plants are bushy and heavy with pods. Gusty winds can snap the stems, and ruin the crop. The polytunnel will keep them safe and snug, ready for you to harvest.

How to Grow Broad Beans

You can sow broad beans either directly into the soil or in pots, depending on what space you have available.

To sow broad beans direct:

  • Once the soil has been prepared, sow the beans singly about 5 cm/2 inches deep. If your soil is friable enough, just push the beans into the soil one by one. You might prefer to make a trench with a trowel, space the beans along it, then cover it over. Space the beans out about 20 cm/8 inches apart along the row.
  • Ideally, broad beans should be sown in blocks or double rows. This helps them to support each other while allowing air to flow through. To sow in double rows, stagger the seeds along each row, so the seeds on one row are slightly offset from the next. Leave a gap of 60 cm/24 inches between each set of double rows. This will allow you to get in to harvest.
  • Cover over your sowings. Water in well to settle the soil down around the seeds. Don’t forget to add a label.
  • If sowing in autumn or very early spring, consider covering the soil with a cloche or fleece. This will protect the beans from the worst of the cold weather.
  • Bottomless plastic bottles sunk into the soil over the seeds can help to deter rodents and act as a mini cloche.
  • If slugs are a problem, rings of copper sunk around the young plants should keep damage to a minimum.

To sow broad beans in pots:

  • Broad beans are not terribly fussy about what compost they are sown in. Seed compost or multi-purpose compost will do just fine. Fill small pots or root trainers with your chosen compost, and sow one seed per pot, pushing them in about 5 cm/2 inches deep. Cover over the seeds and label.
  • Water the pots well and leave to drain.
  • Once the plants are about 5 cm/2 inches high, transplant them into their final growing position. Water them in well.

Growing broad beans:

  • Broad bean plants take around 15 weeks from sowing to harvest (around 30 weeks for autumn sowings). They will become top heavy very quickly once the pods start to develop. While the plants are still young, add a support structure. Push a strong cane into each corner of the bed. Crisscross string over the beds, looping it round the canes, to provide a network for the plants to grow through. Another option is to push twiggy prunings from elsewhere in the garden in among the plants. The plants will soon grow up and obscure the supports. It is much easier to add the support early, rather than trying to tie in mature plants which have started to lean.
  • Keep on top of weeding around the plants. Regular hoeing will reduce competition for water and nutrients in the soil. This will result in a healthier crop.
  • Keep the plants well-watered, particularly when the pods are developing. An automatic irrigation system is extremely helpful. It means your plants won’t dry out even during holiday season. Consider adding the Gardena Soil Moisture Sensor to your watering kit. This sensor is ingenious and ensures plants are not over- or under-watered.
  • When the young pods start to appear, nip out the top of the stem. Take out the growing tip along with the top two leaves, around 10 cm/4 inches or so. This helps to stop black bean aphids taking over. They are particularly drawn to the young tender growing tips, and can quickly smother the plants. Don’t waste the tips – they are delicious to eat wilted like pea shoots or spinach.
  • If the aphids do attack, pinch out the affected parts of the plants straightaway to stop them spreading.

  • Keep the polytunnel well ventilated. This will stop the plants becoming stressed through overheating. It also allows for good airflow through the plants and reduces humidity. This will help to reduce fungal diseases.

CALENDAR

Sowing Time

Autumn sowing: September to October

Spring sowing: February (in polytunnel) or March to Early June

Harvesting Time

From autumn sowings: April to May

From spring sowings: May to September

How to Harvest Broad Beans

You can have fresh broad beans all through the spring and summer if you’ve sown different varieties and staggered the sowing. Harvesting can start as early as May and carry on until September. The peak broad bean harvest is likely to be in July.

Harvest broad beans when they are small and tender

  • Start picking broad beans when the pods are around 5-8 cm/2-3 inches long. At their smallest size, the whole pod can be cooked and eaten.
  • It is safest to pick the pods with secateurs or scissors, to avoid damaging the stem. Start picking from the base of the plant and work upwards.
  • As the pods get a little bigger, the beans will start to show through the pod. At this stage, shell the beans from their pods rather than cooking them whole.
  • Where the pods have grown very large, the scar on the shelled bean may no longer be green or white. If it is discoloured, the bean is likely to be floury. In this case, it is worth ‘double-shelling’ the beans. This means shelling the beans from their pod and cooking them until they are tender. Each bean will have a slightly tough coating which can then be removed. If there isn’t time for double-shelling, the beans can be pureed instead.
  • To store the beans, blanch them in boiling water for a couple of minutes. Drain them and rinse with very cold water to stop the cooking process. Try freezing on an open tray before transferring to a freezer bag. This will make the beans easier to separate later on, so there is no need to defrost a whole bagful at once.

Broad beans can have extraordinarily long roots, so are fantastic for breaking up heavy ground. They’ll reach deep stores of nutrients that many other plants wouldn’t get near.

Don’t forget to dig the spent plants back into the soil. As legumes, the plants turn nitrogen from the atmosphere into a form which other plants can use. Digging the plants into the soil means that the nitrogen in their roots will break down and be released into the soil. The nitrogen will act as a fertilizer for the next crop. Root vegetables particularly benefit from being planted after peas and beans.

Broad beans are a fantastic plant to grow in your polytunnel. They’re easy to sow. They’ll love the extra protection from the cold, the wind and the rain. They’re healthy and tasty to eat, and they improve the soil. Now, where’s that seed catalogue?

Photo: Penny Woodward

It’s broad bean picking time and I couldn’t be happier, they are one of my favourite vegies and truly seasonal. You just don’t see them at other times of year. I’ve played around with planting them a bit earlier and bit later to try to extend the season but have found that June is the best time to plant them in my garden. There are several different cultivars, so choose one that suits your needs or even your preferred flower colour. There are crimson and chocolate-flowered cutlivars, as well as Aquadulce with black-and-white flowers. Also Tripoli with extra large pods, and Coles Dwarf, lower growing and ideal for less sheltered, more windy conditions. Scarlet Cambridge has scarlet purple beans with green pods.

Broad beans (Vicia faba) are also known as fava beans and can be planted from autumn to spring in most regions. They grow best in well-drained soils with a pH around 7 (neutral or slightly acid or alkaline) with lots of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure dug into the soil. Don’t overdo the nitrogen, or you will have excessive leaf growth and few flowers or pods. Soak seeds overnight in dilute seaweed extract (1 tsp to 1L) and plant about 20cm apart in blocks. Smaller-growing cultivars are bushier so need to be a bit further apart. I put solid, tall reo wire down two sides of the bed and then run string along the ends. This helps to support the plants and stops them from being blown over, but still allows access for harvest. Water the seeds well but don’t water again until they are growing vigorously.

Once the sweetly scented flowers appear, the beans will quickly follow, although sudden temperature changes and lack of water may delay flowering and fruit set. Planting to harvest is about 4 months, but once beans start to appear you will have at least a couple of months fresh delicious beans. They can be harvested and eaten small, pod and all, or left to mature and just the beans eaten. Many recipes call for the individual beans to be peeled, but this is not necessary if the pods are harvested while the beans are still young and tender.

Similar to other beans, peas and plants in the leguminosae, broad beans are able to harvest nitrogen from the air and with the aid of bacteria convert it into a form that can be used by other plants. So once the beans have finished producing, dig the plants and roots back into the soil to add nitrogen for the next crop. Water well and leave for a few weeks to rot.

By: Penny Woodward

First published: October 2017

Why every gardener should grow broad beans

Broad beans planted in autumn are a great crop to grow over winter or plant in early spring to harvest in early summer.

Most people wouldn’t describe broad beans (Vicia faba) as particularly erotic, but poet John Clare saw something in them. In his poem Bean Blossoms, he compares the black markings on the flowers to “the dark eye of somebody” and the white of the flower to “the hue of her bosom”.

Hopefully he didn’t suffer from favism, a congenital disease that destroys red blood cells which is triggered when patients lacking enzyme G6PD consume broad beans. Some 400 million people are meant to be affected by this condition, which leaves the remaining 7.3 billion of us to enjoy eating them.

123RF Broad bean flowers.

Even more fortunate than that, broad beans are a fabulous winter cover crop, sending nitrogen into your soil, providing food for your family and producing beautiful flowers that add colour to an otherwise dreary season.

* Q & A: Six common broad bean questions
* A Southern nurseryman’s legacy
* Save your own seeds: Seed-saving basics & choosing what to save

RACHEL CLARE / NZ GARDENER Broad bean seeds ready to plant.

HOW TO GROW
Broad beans like the cold and will germinate well in temperatures ranging from 7 to 10°C. Sow seeds between May and mid-June at a depth of 4cm and 15cm apart.

Enrich the soil with compost or aged manure before sowing but avoid chicken manure or fish emulsion, which are high in nitrogen. As legumes, broad beans fix their own nitrogen, and too much nitrogen leads to lush leaves, not beans.

If your soil is particularly wet and soggy, raise them in punnets first so the seeds don’t rot.

Water seeds deeply after planting, then make sure you give them adequate water throughout the growing season, particularly when they flower and set seed pods.

RACHEL CLARE / NZ GARDENER Red-flowered ‘Hughey’ broad beans supported by a bamboo trellis.

Most varieties grow to at least 1m high so will require staking. Rig up a structure (bamboo is most readily available) and tie them to it with soft, bendy ties such as old pantyhose or support them with ropes tied around stakes placed at the ends and middle of each row.

BARBARA SMITH / NZ GARDENER Broad beans tied to a bean frame with soft ties cut from old pantyhose.

Keep them growing quickly with a foliar feed of diluted worm wee or seaweed-based fertiliser.

KINGS SEEDS ‘Robin Hood’ broad beans growing in a pot.

BEST VARIETIES FOR HOME GARDENS
Super-sized ‘Superaguadulce’ (Kings Seeds) has 25cm-long pods with seven to eight seeds and matures 75 days after planting.

If you’re not keen on staking, don’t have much space or want to grow broad beans in pots, go for ‘Cole’s Early Dwarf’ (Mr Fothergills) or ‘Robin Hood’ (Kings Seeds), an award-winning (RHS) dwarf variety to 45cm with attractive green pods and beans. It’s an improvement on heirloom selection ‘The Sutton’ and is exceptionally cold hardy.

There’s nothing wrong with the pretty white and black flowers of traditional broad beans (just ask John Clare), but ‘Hughey’ broad beans (Yates), selected by Denis Hughes of Blue Mountain Nurseries have striking scarlet flowers and a nutty flavour.

Red-seeded broad beans (Koanga Gardens) are said to have exceptional flavour that will change the mind of any non-broad-bean eater, put off by overcooked grey broad beans as a child. They stay red when they’re cooked.

KOANGA GARDENS Scottish heritage broad beans that stay green when cooked.

If you want to try an interesting heritage variety, Koanga Gardens also sells a Scottish variety purported to have come with settlers in 1863. They stay green when cooked and are said to be prolific croppers.

STUFF Fungal disease chocolate spot on broad bean foliage.

BROAD BEANS PEST & DISEASE PROBLEMS
Warm, humid, spring weather can lead to the fungal disease Botrytis fabae, commonly known as chocolate spot because it looks like the leaves, pods and stems have been dusted with chocolate. Remove infected plant material as soon as you see signs and dispose of it in the rubbish or burn it to avoid spreading spores. The fungus will remain in the soil, so don’t plant your next crop in the same place for at least two years. Growing in neutral to alkaline soil, with plant spacing that allows good airflow around the plants will assist in prevention of the disease.

Black aphids can be a nuisance in spring and early summer. Blast them off with the hose – or for persistent pests, spray with Yates Nature’s Way Insect Spray.

123RF Broad beans and pods.

HARVESTING YOUR BROAD BEANS
Broad beans are prolific producers but need to be picked regularly to keep them coming on.

They can be harvested and eaten at any stage of growth.
* Tiny, immature pods can be picked and eaten raw in salads or tossed into a stir-fry.
* Mature beans can be left in the pod or shelled and cooked in many different ways.
* Slightly over-mature pods can be shelled, dried and treated just like any other dry bean or pea.
* You can also eat the young shoots – add them to stir-fries or salads.

ROBERT GUYTON / NZ GARDENER Tender young broad beanshoots.

After harvesting, cut down the stems and leaves but leave the roots in the soil where they can release nitrogen for nearby plants.

NZ Gardener

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Age may wither the broad bean, but whether they are the size of a pea or a thumbnail, there is always a way to use them. While the beans are young, barely longer than your index finger, you can eat them pod and all. A few weeks on, each shelled bean no larger than the diameter of penny piece, they are good for eating in their thin paper skins. Even when they are as old as the hills, when the pods are lumpy and the shape of the beans is clearly visible through the fur-lined pod, they can be steamed, popped from their skins and mashed to a creamy paste for eating with flatbreads.

First things first. The point of growing your own, surely, is the chance to eat things you can rarely buy in the shops. So this is the opportunity to pick and eat broad beans when they are barely old enough to qualify for the name, the pods supple and crisp, the beans no bigger than an M&M. You can put them, in a single layer, in a shallow baking dish of water, bright, fruity olive oil and a bunch of mint and bring them to the boil. Turn down the heat then leave them, the water barely bubbling, until the colour has darkened and the soft sage-green pods are pliable. Eat them with thick yogurt into which you have folded in a little olive oil that you have blitzed with dill fronds to give a luminescent green oil.

Stripped of their long outer pods the beans, their skins intact, can be boiled, chilled and tucked into the translucent white wrappers of a summer roll or stirred through a couscous salad with chopped mint and parsley, feta cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes. You could use them in a green minestrone with a puddle of basil oil glistening on the surface, or serve them alongside warm, thick-cut ham, tossed in butter into which you have stirred some lemon juice.

As the weeks slide past, the pods get more knobbly and the beans’ tight tissue-paper skin gets thick and greeny-grey. It needs to go. Cook the beans as usual, but once they are ready, drain them and pop them out of their skins. This is a kitchen job I will admit to enjoying as much as any. Serve them in a little butter, cream or olive oil seasoned with chopped mint, or blitz them in the food processor with olive oil, chopped garden mint or dill, or both, and when you have a rich whipped paste, spread it on sourdough toast and trickle it with oil. Young or old, there is always a use for the broad bean.

Summer rolls

The large spring roll rice-paper wrappers are the ones to use here. They are available from Chinese and Vietnamese food shops and larger supermarkets. The rolls make much better eating if the beans are skinned.

Makes 6 (serves 3)
broad beans 500g, podded weight
rump steak 300g
olive oil a little
sprouted seeds 50g
cucumber half, cut into matchsticks
radishes 6
red chilli 1, mild
coriander a handful
summer roll wrappers 6

For the dipping sauce:
light soy 2 tbsp
mirin 2 tbsp
sesame oil 2 tsp
red chilli 1 tsp, finely chopped
coriander leaves

Bring a pot of water to the boil and salt it lightly. Pod the beans, drop them into the boiling water and let them cook for 6 or 7 minutes if small and young, a little longer if larger. Drain the beans and refresh them under cold running water.

If the beans are small, leave them in their skins. If they are any larger, then squeeze each one gently to pop it from its pale papery skin. Discard the skins and set the beans aside.

Season the steak and grill or shallow-fry it in a little oil for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned on the outside and pink on the inside. Set the meat aside to rest.

Peel the cucumber, halve it lengthways and scrape out and discard the seeds. Cut the cucumber into matchstick-thin strips. Trim and halve the radishes lengthways. Halve the chilli, discard the seeds then cut into fine strips. Toss the cucumber, radishes and chilli together.

Slice the steak in half and then into thin strips. Briefly soak the spring-roll wrappers in cold water, one at a time, until they are transparent. Gently place them, one at a time, on the work surface, then place a thick line of steak strips, cucumber, radish, chilli and sprouted seeds down the centre of each. Roll the wrapper around the filling, pulling it carefully into a thick, long cylinder, folding the ends over to seal. Place the rolls in a single layer on a serving dish.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the soy and mirin together, then add the finely chopped chilli. Finely chop the coriander leaves then stir into the soy-sauce mixture.

Broad beans on toast

Nigel Slater’s broad beans on toast recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

You could use buffalo mozzarella rather than the softer, more tender and milky burrata if you prefer. If you use large beans, pop them from their skins after cooking.It will only takes a few minutes and will results in more tender beans and a better-looking dish.

Serves 2
broad beans 500g
cherry tomatoes 180g
basil leaves a big handful
olive oil 2 tbsp

For the toast:
sourdough bread 2 thick slices
burrata 150g

Pod the broad beans and boil them in deep, lightly salted water until tender, then drain and refresh under cold running water.

Put the cherry tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and add the basil and a little salt. Process to a coarse purée, then stir in the oil.

Toast the sourdough lightly on both sides. Spread half of the tomato dressing on the warm toast. Divide the burrata, and the beans, between the two pieces of toast. Spoon the rest of the dressing over the top and trickle a little olive oil over each.

Email Nigel at [email protected] Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

Nigel Slater’s Broad Bean Recipes

Wrapped in rice paper or served on lightly toasted sourdough, broad beans make a simple supper into a feast

Age may wither the broad bean, but whether they are the size of a pea or a thumbnail, there is always a way to use them. While the beans are young, barely longer than your index finger, you can eat them pod and all. A few weeks on, each shelled bean no larger than the diameter of penny piece, they are good for eating in their thin paper skins. Even when they are as old as the hills, when the pods are lumpy and the shape of the beans is clearly visible through the fur-lined pod, they can be steamed, popped from their skins and mashed to a creamy paste for eating with flatbreads.

First things first. The point of growing your own, surely, is the chance to eat things you can rarely buy in the shops. So this is the opportunity to pick and eat broad beans when they are barely old enough to qualify for the name, the pods supple and crisp, the beans no bigger than an M&M. You can put them, in a single layer, in a shallow baking dish of water, bright, fruity olive oil and a bunch of mint and bring them to the boil. Turn down the heat then leave them, the water barely bubbling, until the colour has darkened and the soft sage-green pods are pliable. Eat them with thick yogurt into which you have folded in a little olive oil that you have blitzed with dill fronds to give a luminescent green oil.

Stripped of their long outer pods the beans, their skins intact, can be boiled, chilled and tucked into the translucent white wrappers of a summer roll or stirred through a couscous salad with chopped mint and parsley, feta cheese and roasted cherry tomatoes. You could use them in a green minestrone with a puddle of basil oil glistening on the surface, or serve them alongside warm, thick-cut ham, tossed in butter into which you have stirred some lemon juice.

As the weeks slide past, the pods get more knobbly and the beans’ tight tissue-paper skin gets thick and greeny-grey. It needs to go. Cook the beans as usual, but once they are ready, drain them and pop them out of their skins. This is a kitchen job I will admit to enjoying as much as any. Serve them in a little butter, cream or olive oil seasoned with chopped mint, or blitz them in the food processor with olive oil, chopped garden mint or dill, or both, and when you have a rich whipped paste, spread it on sourdough toast and trickle it with oil. Young or old, there is always a use for the broad bean.

Summer rolls

The large spring roll rice-paper wrappers are the ones to use here. They are available from Chinese and Vietnamese food shops and larger supermarkets. The rolls make much better eating if the beans are skinned.

Makes 6 (serves 3)
broad beans 500g, podded weight
rump steak 300g
olive oil a little
sprouted seeds 50g
cucumber half, cut into matchsticks
radishes 6
red chilli 1, mild
coriander a handful
summer roll wrappers 6

For the dipping sauce:
light soy 2 tbsp
mirin 2 tbsp
sesame oil 2 tsp
red chilli 1 tsp, finely chopped
coriander leaves

Bring a pot of water to the boil and salt it lightly. Pod the beans, drop them into the boiling water and let them cook for 6 or 7 minutes if small and young, a little longer if larger. Drain the beans and refresh them under cold running water.

If the beans are small, leave them in their skins. If they are any larger, then squeeze each one gently to pop it from its pale papery skin. Discard the skins and set the beans aside.

Season the steak and grill or shallow-fry it in a little oil for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until nicely browned on the outside and pink on the inside. Set the meat aside to rest.

Peel the cucumber, halve it lengthways and scrape out and discard the seeds. Cut the cucumber into matchstick-thin strips. Trim and halve the radishes lengthways. Halve the chilli, discard the seeds then cut into fine strips. Toss the cucumber, radishes and chilli together.

Slice the steak in half and then into thin strips. Briefly soak the spring-roll wrappers in cold water, one at a time, until they are transparent. Gently place them, one at a time, on the work surface, then place a thick line of steak strips, cucumber, radish, chilli and sprouted seeds down the centre of each. Roll the wrapper around the filling, pulling it carefully into a thick, long cylinder, folding the ends over to seal. Place the rolls in a single layer on a serving dish.

To make the dipping sauce, mix the soy and mirin together, then add the finely chopped chilli. Finely chop the coriander leaves then stir into the soy-sauce mixture.

Broad beans on toast

Nigel Slater’s broad beans on toast recipe. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

You could use buffalo mozzarella rather than the softer, more tender and milky burrata if you prefer. If you use large beans, pop them from their skins after cooking.It will only takes a few minutes and will results in more tender beans and a better-looking dish.

Serves 2
broad beans 500g
cherry tomatoes 180g
basil leaves a big handful
olive oil 2 tbsp

For the toast:
sourdough bread 2 thick slices
burrata 150g

Pod the broad beans and boil them in deep, lightly salted water until tender, then drain and refresh under cold running water.

Put the cherry tomatoes in the bowl of a food processor and add the basil and a little salt. Process to a coarse purée, then stir in the oil.

Toast the sourdough lightly on both sides. Spread half of the tomato dressing on the warm toast. Divide the burrata, and the beans, between the two pieces of toast. Spoon the rest of the dressing over the top and trickle a little olive oil over each.

Email Nigel at [email protected] Follow Nigel on Twitter @NigelSlater

Bean counters: Nigel Slater’s summer roll recipe with dipping sauce. Photograph: Jonathan Lovekin for the Observer

Nigel Slater Broad bean and dill „hummus“

YIELD: Serves 2-3 as a dip with bread

Recipe for a fresh-tasting alternative to hummus, full of gentle green flavours from broad beans and dill. Scoop it up with pitta or crusty bread or for carnivores serve it with ham.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 800 grams broad beans in their pods; about 270 grams shelled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 small lemon, the juice
  • 8 – 10 grams fresh dill, a small handful, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • TO SERVE

  • crusty or pita bread

SOURCE

modified by Ulrike Westphal from:
Nigel Slater in The Observer

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Put a pan of water on to boil. Pod the beans then drop them into the boiling water. Cook them for 7-9 minutes till tender.
  2. Drain them and pop them out of their thin, grey-green skins. Blitz them to a thick puree in a food processor. Pour in the olive oil, add the lemon and dill and a grinding of salt and pepper. Process until the mixture is smooth and bright green. Scrape into a dish, then pour over a little olive oil.

total time: 30 minutes
preparation time:15 minutes
cook/baking time: 10 minutes

How to grow broad beans

Home-grown broad beans bear little resemblance to the ones you buy. They’re tasty, with no hint of bitterness, and wonderfully tender, not at all like shoe leather! Freshly picked and eaten young, they’re a revelation.

Advertisement If you want to eat broad 
beans in their pods, harvest them really young (when they’re about 6cm long). Sowing broad bean seeds

Growing broad beans from seed

Certain hardy varieties can be sown in the autumn and will be ready for harvesting in about 25 weeks. Spring-sown plants develop more quickly and will crop within about 15 weeks. Spring sowing is generally more reliable, especially in heavy clay soil, when you’ll get fewer losses than with autumn sowings.

Before sowing, fork plenty of compost or manure into the planting area, then rake the surface to a fine, crumbly texture. Mark out 5cm deep drills, with about 20cm between each, or sow as double rows 15cm apart. The seeds are large, so they’re very easy to sow. Simply sow them about 20cm apart along the length of the drill. Cover the seeds with soil, firm it down and water well.

If you live in a cold area, have heavy or waterlogged soil, or have a problem with mice (which love the seeds), then it’s a good idea to sow broad beans in deep pots or modules. Place in a cool, frost-free place, such as a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, and they’ll germinate within three weeks. Plant out after six weeks, when the roots have filled their pot.

Looking after broad bean plants

Cover the newly sown area with netting to protect the seeds from hungry birds and squirrels. Seedlings should appear in a few weeks, depending on the weather and soil conditions. Keep the plants well watered and free of weeds.

Harvesting broad beans

If you want to eat broad beans in their pods, harvest them really young (when they’re about 6cm long) before they have the chance to become tough or bitter. To eat them shelled, wait a little longer, until you can clearly see that the pods are bulging with beans.

After harvesting, leave the plants in the ground for as long as possible. Like other legumes, broad beans have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules on their root system, which boost nitrogen levels in the soil. The crops you grow in this area in the following year will reap the benefits.

Fresh broad beans

Storing broad beans

Cook broad beans fresh, or prepare them for freezing by blanching in boiling water for three minutes then plunging into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

Preparating and using broad beans

The fresh pods can be eaten whole like mangetouts when young, or the beans can be left to mature inside the pods.

Broad bean: problem solving

Watch out for blackfly, which multiply into dense colonies on the soft, young shoot tips. To prevent this, pinch out the tender shoot tips once the first flowers appear.

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Do broad beans need support?

To avoid having to support broad bean plants with canes, grow them fairly close together or in double rows. With a gap of just 20cm between them, even taller varieties provide mutual support to do the job themselves.

Broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’

Great broad bean varieties to grow

  • ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ – very hardy, so great for autumn sowing
  • ‘Bunyards Exhibition’ – sweet and subtly flavoured, with a delicate texture
  • ‘Masterpiece Green Longpod’ – sweet, nutty flavour and high yield
  • ‘Stereo’ – beans have tender skins and are good as a mangetout-type crop if picked young
  • ‘The Sutton’ – dwarf variety, so a good option if you’re short on space
  • ‘Witkiem Manita’ – an early cropper, producing large, well-filled pods

Broad beans are a type of bean and part of the legume family. They’re easy and quick to grow!

Basic Broad bean facts

Name – Vicia faba
Family – legume family
Type – annual

Height – 1 ⅓ to 13 feet (40 to 400 cm)
Exposure – full sun
Soil – light, not too moist

Harvest – Around 3 months after sowing

Their slight taste of hazelnut and the ease with which they can be cooked and prepared or even eaten raw make them a favorite.

  • Health: health benefits of broad beans

Sowing broad beans

Broad beans are very easily sown, from February to April in most temperate climates, and even a bit earlier, from October to December for mild winter, coastal, and Mediterranean climates.

Sowing season and harvest season

Places with cold winters

  • Direct sowing broad beans end of winter – February-April
  • Broad bean harvest early summer – May-June

Mild-wintered regions

  • Sowing in fall – October-November
  • Harvest early spring – March-May

How to succeed in sowing broad beans

  • Break up the earth to a depth of around 1 foot (30 cm).
  • Dig grooves that are around 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm) deep.
  • Place a seed every 4 inches (10 cm) along the groove, and press it down with your thumb. An alternate way of sowing is to place 2 seeds per seed hole and space the seed holes 8 inches (20 cm) apart.
  • Cover with about an inch (a couple centimeters) of soil, without pressing it down.
  • Watering using a gentle spray.

Take care: broad beans hate heat and drought which slow pod growth. This is why broad beans are planted early.

Row spacing

If you wish to plant several rows of broad beans, space them around 8 inches (20 cm) apart.

After sprouting

It is important to keep the soil soft and weed-free by running a hoe along on a regular basis.

Mulch helps reduce weed growth and spaces watering, too.

When plants are around 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20 cm) tall, ridge their base by about 1¼ to 1½ inches (3 to 4 cm) to anchor it and favor root development.

Starting in May, usually when broad beans or flowers start forming, pinch tips of stems above the 5th or 6th pair of leaves.

Staking broad beans

For taller varieties and if your garden is prone to strong winds, stake your broad beans so that they don’t collapse with a gust of wind.

Harvesting broad beans

Harvesting broad beans takes place around 3 months after sowing.

This time span may vary depending on climate, soil quality and watering.

How can you know when to harvest broad beans, so that they are neither too ripe nor too young?

Several clues make this a sure practice:

  • Don’t let pods grow on the stem for too long because the seeds tend to harden quite fast.
  • Pods can be picked when they reach 2/3 of their final length.
  • If you wish to harvest them dry, wait for the pods to turn black while still on the plant.

Keeping broad beans

The best way to keep broad beans green for a long time is to put them in the freezer.

They can also keep in the refrigerator, but only for a few days.

Drying beans to keep them

Broad beans can keep for many months if they have been well dried.

Shelling broad beans

  • Dry the whole broad bean, without the pod but with the thin husk, in a dry and ventilated place.
  • When you plan to use them, remove the second skin and soak for around 10 hours in water.

Diseases and parasites that attack broad beans

Even though they are easy to grow and care for, it is important to watch over your broad beans for their main enemy: black aphids.

They can be seen attacking stems, and even pods, forming colonies of small black insects that compromise broad bean harvests.

  • Treat against aphids as soon as they appear.
  • If the colony is large and concentrated on a certain area, remove infested stems.

Watch for possible fungus attacks as well, such as downy mildew or rust on broad beans.

Good and bad companion plants for broad beans

Broad beans love growing near artichoke, dill, aniseed and lettuce.

Broad beans hate growing near garlic, red beet, shallot and onion.

Species and varieties of broad beans

Here is a short selection of broad bean varieties, which are interesting for their cultivation, productivity or taste.

  • ‘Agadulce’ – edsarly
  • ‘Trois fois blanche’ – very hardy
  • ‘Red Epicure’ – bright red seeds, broad beans grown for how they look
  • ‘Primabel’ – very productive, possibly the highest among all broad bean varieties
  • ‘De Seville’ – large white seeds, rather early
  • ‘Hystal’ – ideal for early growing

Health benefits and therapeutic properties of broad beans

Broad beans are low-calorie and fiber-rich foods, and help make digestion easier.

With high sugar and mineral content, such as magnesium, potassium or calcium, and many vitamins, too, broad beans have a positive impact on digestive functions and to curb exhaustion.

They are also recommended for persons with diabetes, since the carbohydrates they contain don’t change blood sugar levels.

  • Health: health benefits of broad beans

Smart tip about broad beans

Don’t grow broad beans in the same plot 2 years in a row; better to wait even 4 years before sowing again in the same place.

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Broad bean in a true worker’s hands by Various Brennemans ☆ under © CC BY-SA 2.0
Broad bean sprout by Christian Guthier ☆ under © CC BY 2.0
Broad bean blooming by Karen Hine ☆ under Public Domain
Ready for harvest by Vicky Wakefield-Jarrett ☆ under © CC BY 2.0
Broad beans in the kitchen by Carl Stridsberg ★ under license

Broad beans, also called fava beans, are a cool-season crop that grows best in temperatures ranging from 60° to 65°F, but fava beans will grow in temperatures as low as 40°F and as warm as 75°F. Sow broad beans in spring as soon as the soil can be worked for harvest before the weather warms. Broad beans require 80 to 100 days to reach harvest. In mild-winter regions sow broad beans in early autumn for winter harvest.

Description. The broad bean is a bushy, hardy annual that can grow from 3 to 4½ feet tall. The broad bean has square stems with leaves divided into leaflets. Pods are 6 to 8 inches long and contain 4 to 6 flat, oval seeds that can be white, yellow, green, or pinkish-red. The broad bean has white flowers that are splotched with brown. The broad bean is not a true bean is related to vetch, another legume.

Yield. Plant 4 to 8 broad beans per household member.

Planting Fava Beans

Site. Grow broad beans in full sun. Plant broad beans in loose, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting. Broad beans prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.8.

Planting time. Broad beans grow best in cool weather where air temperatures are below 70°F. Broad beans, unlike snap beans, will not set pods in warm weather. Sow broad beans in early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Broad beans will grow in temperatures as low as 40°F. They require 80 to 100 days to reach harvest.. In mild-winter regions sow broad beans in early autumn for winter or spring harvest. They will not produce in the summer’s heat. In areas where winters are mild, plant broad beans in the fall for a spring crop. In cold regions, grow broad beans instead of lima beans, which require a warmer and long growing season.

Broad bean seedlings ready for transplanting

Planting and spacing. Sow broad bean seeds 1 inch deep and 4 to 5 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 30 inches apart. Thin seedlings to stand 8 to 10 inches apart. In short-season regions, start broad beans indoors in peat pots and set them into the garden shortly after the last frost in spring.

Companion plants. Potatoes, cucumbers, corn, strawberries, celery, summer savory. Do not plant broad beans with onions or garlic.

Container growing. Beans can be grown in containers, but a good crop will take more space than most containers can provide.

Caring for Fava Beans

Water and feeding. Water broad beans just before the soil dries out, but do not over-water them. Keep soil moist during flowering and pod formation. Plant beans in well-drained soil. Broad beans do not require feeding apart from planting in fertile, composted soil. Beans set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms called nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which help them produce usable nitrogen.

Care. Keep planting beds weed-free; cultivate shallowly to avoid disturbing roots.

Pests. Beans can be attacked by aphids, bean beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers and mites. Spray aphids away with a blast from the hose. Bean beetles and flea beetles can be controlled with sticky traps. Exclude leafhoppers with horticultural fleece or spray with insecticidal soap. and mites can be controlled. Spray mites with insecticidal soap.

Small white and yellow moths are adult cabbage worms that shelter in beans. They will not harm beans.

Diseases. Beans are susceptible to blight, mosaic, and anthracnose. Cut down the incidence of disease by planting disease-resistant varieties. Keep the garden clean. Avoid handling the plants when they are wet. Remove and destroy infected plants so they can not spread the disease to healthy plants. Soil-borne diseases can be reduced by changing the location of bean crops each year.

Raw broad beans out of pods

How to Harvest Fava Beans

  • Pick broad beans for fresh use like you would snap beans–when the seeds are about the size of a pea.
  • Pick broad beans for drying when they mature and begin to yellow, usually about 85 days after planting.

How to Dry Fava Beans

  • For dry beans, let the pods mature and turn yellow.
  • Pick the pods before they darken or turn black (a sign of mold); this can happen quickly in humid or wet regions. If you allow the pods to turn black they will require additional time to dry.
  • Dry fava beans on a screen or cookie sheet in a warm, sheltered spot with good air circulation; do not dry beans outdoors if it is humid.
  • Beans can also be dried in a food dehydrator set on low heat.
  • The skin of the fava bean will wrinkle when it is dry.

How to Store and Preserve Fava Beans

  • Unshelled broad beans will keep in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
  • Broad beans can be frozen, canned, or dried.
  • Dried shelled broad beans can be stored in a cool dry place for 10 to 12 months.

Fava Bean Varieties To Grow

Few named varieties may be available; grow the variety available in your area.

Common name. Bean, broad bean, fava bean, Windsor bean, Scotch bean, horse bean

Botanical name. Vicia faba

Origin. Central Asia

Growing broad beans in Western Australia

Introduction

The broad bean (Vicia faba) — also known as faba bean — is a legume, similar to runner beans and peas. It differs from most other vegetables in Western Australia as it crops in spring and for less than 10 weeks of the year.

It tolerates lower temperatures than runner and French beans and the plant can withstand frost, although the flowers are frost-sensitive. The broad bean does not set pods well until August and September, as it needs the right day length and a temperature of about 20°C at flowering.

Broad beans are grown in large quantities in the agricultural areas to produce mature seeds for feeding to livestock. These crops are called faba beans.

In horticulture, broad beans are mainly grown for their large, but immature seeds.

As a cooked vegetable, they supply carbohydrate, energy, fibre, protein and vitamin A. The pods are also sometimes cooked when young and tender. When ploughed in, broad beans return organic matter to the soil.

Although well-drained soils are preferred, the crop will tolerate heavier soils and brief waterlogging better than most other vegetables, especially if this occurs well after emergence.

Neutral to alkaline soils are optimum. Soils which are too alkaline may show trace element deficiencies such as iron, manganese and zinc.

Growing the crop

Planting

Plant two or three times at about three-week intervals from late April to June so that harvesting is spread out. Broad beans take 14 to 20 weeks to reach maturity.

Crops planted too early in summer and early autumn will grow tall and flowers may not set at the top of the plant until September. As a result, yields will be low and the crop will take a long time to mature. Crops planted too late will also produce low yields and will be affected by high temperatures in late spring.

Sow the seeds 12 to 15cm apart in single rows 80cm apart, about 2.5 to 5.0cm deep.

Broad beans produce less well in windy areas. Double rows — 20cm apart with 1m between the double row centres — help the plants withstand wind and a windbreak will also reduce wind damage.

Keep plants well watered.

Fertilisers

The broad bean is not a heavy feeder and, being a legume, will produce some of the nitrogen it needs from bacteria in nodules on the roots. Acidic soils — less than pHCa 5.3 — should be limed to improve root nodulation.

Applying compost at up to 30 cubic metres/ha to other crops in the rotation will supply organic matter, add nutrients and help to retain moisture in the soil.

Before planting, apply magnesium and the following trace elements in the annual program:

  • 50kg/ha magnesium sulphate to supply magnesium
  • 20kg/ha manganese sulphate to supply manganese
  • 18kg/ha borax to supply boron
  • 18kg/ha ferrous sulphate to supply iron
  • 18kg/ha copper sulphate to supply copper
  • 18kg/ha zinc sulphate to supply zinc
  • 2kg/ha sodium molybdate to supply molybdenum.

Apply phosphorus requirements before planting.

One week after planting, side-dress fortnightly with nitrogen such as urea at 15kg/ha and sulphate of potash at 30kg/ha. Too much nitrogen may lead to too much leaf and low yields.

Nutrient analysis of the soil and irrigation water before planting, plus one to two analyses of the youngest mature leaves after planting, will enable some adjustments to the fertiliser program and provide information on nutrients that are deficient or toxic.

Some of the suggested nutrients may be deleted or reduced if they are sufficiently high in the irrigation water and soil, including sources from compost and fertilisers from previous cropping.

Do not apply excess fertilisers because nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are easily washed through sandy soils by rainfall and irrigation. This may lead to pollution of surface and groundwater.

Weed, pest and disease management

The registration and availability of chemicals for weed, disease and pest control change regularly. Consult a trained and experienced horticultural agronomist or the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) website for chemicals which are currently registered or have a permit for use on this crop. The information on the label or permit for a chemical must be followed, including the directions for use, critical use comments, withholding period and maximum residue limit. Quality assurance (QA) schemes for horticultural crop production require producers to have current information on chemical registrations and permits at their fingertips. The information to be found at this website allows this requirement to be met.

Weeds

Broad beans are good competitors with weeds.

Pests

Aphids, snails, caterpillars (pods), redlegged earth mite (seedlings), vegetable weevil and nematodes are common pests.

Disease

Chocolate spot (Botrytis fabae) can cause extensive losses and is the major disease in Western Australia. This is seed-borne and crops may also be infected by wind-borne spores from residues of previous crops. Chocolate spot spores can survive in the soil for several years and there should be a rotation of at least two years before broad beans are grown on the same ground.

Chocolate spot usually appears as small reddish brown leaf spots in late winter to spring. The disease spreads most rapidly under humid or wet conditions in spring. Chocolate spot may be introduced into new bean growing areas by sowing infected seed.

Harvesting

Crops are harvested from August to November, with the biggest crop in October.

Broad beans ripen from the base upwards, so check the lowest pods regularly as they begin to swell. Pick the pods at full size — above 15cm long and seeds the size of a five cent piece — before the skins become tough and leathery.

Pick before the tissue that joins the bean to the pod turns black.

The crop is mainly cross-pollinated and, if the activity of wild bees is low, introducing hives into the crop may increase yields.

Harvest in early morning and keep produce cool before marketing. Broad beans have a short storage life. Pack the pods in 22L or 36L plastic crates.

Acknowledgement

The original version of this material was authored by John Burt.

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