With the arrival of spring, fresh bean season also gets into full swing. Green, nutritious and excellent to add to your spring salads, fresh fava beans, or broad beans, are the welcome ingredient that signals the start of longer, warmer days. Low in calories - each 100 grams of fava beans contain about 70 calories - rich in vitamin C, as well as a good source of magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, broad beans are also the nutritious addition to your recipe repertoire.
But, like many good things in life, fava bean season is short-lived, with their peak harvest being between April and May. However, you can easily benefit from the beans all year round. Fine Dining Lovers explain how to easily freeze the fresh beans so you can enjoy them as often as you like, whenever you like.
How to freeze fresh fava beans
There are two ways to freeze fresh fava beans: raw or blanched.
Freezing fresh broad beans
In the first case, simply shell the fresh beans and go ahead with freezing:
- Start by opening the pod, and collecting all the beans in a large bowl. Be sure to remove the husk and the outer skin when the beans are particularly large and the skin tough.
- After removing the fava beans, wash them under running fresh water.
- Dry the beans carefully and place them into freezer bags, seal and place in freezer.
How to freeze fava beans after blanching
Blanching the beans before freezing is also a popular option as it allows you to retain all the nutrients and properties of the beans during storage.
- Simply blanch the beans for a few minutes - 3/4 at most
- Wait for them to cool and then proceed with freezing
Frozen fresh beans can be stored in the freezer for 6-8 months.
How to store fresh beans in the freezer
There's also another technique to freeze fresh fava beans - cryo-blanching. A technique that makes it possible to keep all the properties of the vegetables intact and ensure that - once frozen - the vibrant colour is retained. This technique is particularly good for all small vegetables like green beans, peas, asparagus and spinach leaves.
How to pick and prepare fresh fava beans
If you’re not looking to freeze your fava beans and would rather use them fresh, here are a few tips for how to get them ready for your recipes:
- When picking out your beans, make sure the pods do not look too packed with large beans, which means the seeds are older and more likely to be bitter.
- When buying or picking, keep in mind that a lot of the weight and volume is in the pod, so you might need more pods per serving than you’d think.
- To easily remove the seeds form the pod, snap off the end and peel the string that runs along its 'spine'.
- Take off the waxy outer coating, which feels like the bean’s skin.
- If you are having trouble removing this 'skin', you can blanch the bean by boiling it for 30 second and then placing it in ice water. The skin should then slough off.
How to use fava beans in the kitchen
Whether fava beans are used to give a touch of spring to your quinoa or eaten with the classic of the classics combined with a generous dose of finocchiona, the beans are the perfect spring ingredient. Try making a creamy fava bean salad with goat's cheese, a spring fava bean soup or some simple fava bean crostini as the perfect light appetisers. You can also puree them and add spices, olive oil, lemon and other ingredients to make a creamy bean dip to contrast with crunchy toast or chips. Or make them a star of a vegetarian main with fava bean risotto garnished with parmesan and mint.