To get to the beans, split open the pod with your nail, as you would to pod peas. The smallest, youngest beans definitely need only the outer pod removing before cooking. You could ‘double-pod’ larger ones. After boiling, refresh in cold water, then pinch off the skins to reveal the bright green beans inside. It isn’t essential, but if you haven’t eaten broad beans like this before, they will be a revelation. If you’re wondering what to do with broad bean pods, you can compost them, or if they’re tender, boil and purée them.
For 300g podded broad beans, you will need around 900g whole beans. Mixed with other ingredients, such as in a pasta or rice dish, 200-300g podded beans should be enough for two to four people.
Broad beans keep well in their pods in the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge. They should stay fresh for a week, even if the pods wilt a little.
Ready to pick six weeks earlier than runner or French beans, the over-wintered crop ripen before there is much else around. The varieties we sell are Aquadulce and Claudia, sown before Christmas for June harvest, and Witkiem, sown between February and April for July/August harvest. We sow some beans in Autumn and some in Spring. If the Winter is too cold, the Autumn sown crop doesn’t always survive and if it’s a wet spring, the later crop may drown. In the early stages, the plants are covered with mesh to protect them from crows and other pests. After this, they don’t need a lot of attention.
Before the conquest of America, broad beans were the only beans grown in Europe and, when meat wasn't available, they were a vital source of protein.