Long time since my last post. Too much gardening to do, too many house (es) repairs and, after all, its almost Summer, a time for doing and not the best time for reflecting.
Our fava crop is in. Whoppie. If you have not grown them then you should. They are relatively easy. You plant them as soon as the ground can be worked, except where the winter temps are moderate and then you plant them as a fall to be wintered-over crop. They like to germinate in cool soils and they don’t like summer heat. We planted Aguadulce from Seeds from Italy. If you live near an ethnic food store (Italian, Indian or Middle-eastern) you can buy a bag of dried favas and just plant them. They’ll germinate. They will probably be Windsor which is a bit gross as a bean compared to other varieties. I use these seeds for Favas grown solely as a cover crop.
In most North American areas, you plant them in late March and harvest them in early June. The plants are GREAT nitrogen fixers so they are good for the soil and the plants are brittle so you can easily chop them into the soil for a green manure. The beans are encased in thick fibrous pods. You harvest them when you can feel that the beans are like small baby limas inside them … maybe 4 inches long and as think as a pinky finger. You boil the whole pod in a lot of water for a few minutes and then cut the tip of the pod off and squeeze out the beans inside. If they are as small as a baby lima then you can just eat them. If they are larger then you can take off the outer shell and eat the inside. There are lots of good instructions for processing them on the web. Here is one. Here is another.
We will likely get three meals from about 15 feet of a double row. Our first small picking was fava risotto. The second was fava beans and bow tie pasta with olive oil, butter and a good Reggiano. We’re not sure what the third will be. If we are lucky (and the temps stay moderate) we will get a fourth small picking.
Fresh favas taste like the best baby limas. They are sweet and green with a little crunch. Most recipes for green favas are Mediterranean in style. Mature dried favas are used to make many middle-eastern dishes including the famous Egyptian nation dish Foul (fa’ oul), of which there are many variations.
If you are going to grow one “uncommon” vegetable, and if you have a bit of room, grow favas. Not only will you get a culinary treat but you will also improve your soil at the same time.