How NOT to Cook Fava Beans

Peeling cooked fava beans

A few months back Matty and I picked up a one-pound bag of dried fava beans. As with most beans, they’re high in protein and fiber, while being low in fat, sugar, and sodium (unless added!).  Favas are also a good source of vitamins and minerals (especially folate, manganese, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron).

The directions on the bag said they did not need to be soaked and merely to “Cook until soft.”  We did a bit of googling, but most of the recipes we found called for fresh favas, and we didn’t have much luck finding more specific directions.

Turns out, if you go straight from bag to boiling, you’ll be waiting about three hours for those beans to get soft. That’s not the real problem, though: They have a tough outer shell that you’ve got to get rid of somehow. We boiled them until the bean inside was very soft, but the shell didn’t really loosen up much.  So to get at the morsels inside, we Matty had to painstakingly, bean by bean, peel them apart by hand (I was busy taking photos, naturally).  It was a messy process.

Peeling Cooked Fava Beans

Turns out what we should have done was ignore the vague directions on the package, and instead soak the beans overnight.  Then, after the soaking, it would have been far easier to peel them (still have to go one at time, though!).  After peeling, it would have taken only about an hour or so to cook the beans the rest of the way.

Fava Bean Shells

Even so, our Rosemary Fava Bean Pate turned out quite lovely.  Click over to Matty’s blog for the recipe and his take on the fava experience.

Fava Bean Pate

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October 18, 2017 9:03 am

For any dried beans with skin, a short boil and then you can slide the skin off while the insides are still hard. With black eye peas the skin comes off with rinsing. Broad and giant lima beans require a little manipulation.

Joel Halprin
Joel Halprin
November 9, 2016 7:21 am

How come no one has mentions Ful Medames? It is a great breakfast, actually anytime, dish that is filling and satisfying.

July 7, 2016 3:05 pm

I grew up in Portugal and I ate Fava bean stew all the time. I loved the skins on it. More protein. Leave skins on! Its more protein. 😀

January 24, 2015 5:40 am

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil over medium heat and set up a bowl of well-salted ice water. Add the shelled fava beans to the boiling water. Once the water has come back to a boil, cook the beans for 3 to 4 minutes. Remove them from the boiling water and immediately put them into the bowl of salted ice water. Once the beans have cooled completely, strain them from the ice water. Peel the tough, light green outer layer from the beans. You will be left with a delicate, lovely vibrantly green tender fava bean.

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Hope this helps!! About to cook some myself;)

January 20, 2015 2:31 pm

You don’t need to peel the beans to eat them. You do have to soak them for 1 or even 2 days before boiling for one hour. Them, the beans can be used as they are in salads or for arabic fool madammas beans. I usually soak them for 1 day for chewy beans (for falafel) and 2 days for beans I will mash (fool madammas)

Annie C.
Annie C.
April 10, 2014 8:15 am

I learned that after soaking the fava beans, you make a slice in each bean on the divot side. That way the bean keeps its integrity while cooking, it softens and you don’t discard the skin which is full of nutrients. ….

Terry Sutton
Terry Sutton
December 22, 2013 7:15 am

Thanks so much; very helpful comments, all…

Sally B
Sally B
July 10, 2013 1:43 am

Adding a liberal pinch (~ 1 tsp: litre water)of bicarb soda and soaking for an hour, softens any dried legume to the same degree that soaking overnight does…

April 7, 2013 11:52 pm

I’ve read that you could add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the cooking water – this appearantly softens the shell…

Larry Johnson
Larry Johnson
March 7, 2013 7:37 pm

Anybody who lives in or near Atlanta – the Dekalb Farmers Market has dried favsas that have been “skinned” and split, a la split peas.