Master Gardener Gardening Bench: Broad Beans

Trying a Different Kind of Bean

by Amy L. Stripe, Master Gardener 2008

Now is the time to plant broad beans (Vicia faba L.), also called fava beans. This highly nutritious bean is popular in the U.K., and my English husband has urged me to try growing it here in Florida. I was skeptical, as the University of Florida notes that very rarely are broad beans grown in Florida home vegetable gardens. But I dutifully brought a seed packet of broad beans (var. ‘Bunyard’s Exhibition’) with me from England and planted them in early October. Whereas many types of be

ans can be grown year-round in Florida (e.g., pole and lima beans), the broad bean is definitely a cool season crop. It will not flower under dry, hot conditions. They can be planted September through March and will take four to five months before harvesting. Broad beans come in large, thick pods that may be up to a foot in length. The plant itself may need staking or trellising as it can get up to five feet high. The bean (seed) itself is large and flat and green. They should be harvested when the pods reach their full size, but before they dry. Young, thin pods can be eaten right along with the bean seeds inside; older beans must be removed from the pods.

Using Broad Beans

Blanch bean seeds for three to five minutes in boiling water in order to remove the thin skin surrounding each bean seed. Beans can be braised or sautéed, marinated and served in salads, or pureed for soups. They have a creamy, sweet flavor. Broad beans figure in a lot of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes. My husband loves them served with English parsley sauce and baked ham. Margie Mitchell, a beloved Manatee County Master Gardener and organic farmer, raised broad beans from my seeds for several years that were a great success with local area chefs.

To store broad beans, remove them from the pod and parboil, then freeze or can. For more information on beans for Florida gardens, visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mv017