What to do with fava beans?

I live in southwest Washington State, seacoast, USDA zone 8. This summer I planted a dozen fava beans out of curiosity. Never grown them before, don't recall ever seeing them before. The bush beans and pole beans are now long gone but the favas appear to be in full stride. Each stalk has a cluster of 7 to 8 pods of all sizes tho most are the size of sausages! By feel the beans inside are the size of grapes. How long are these things likely to keep growing? Are they a cool season crop? They don't look like they are ready to pick. Should I just wait until the pods turn brown and then shell them? How to eat them will be yet another new experience. :) -- Karl Warner (in a grove of pine trees, in the lee of a dune)
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Hi All, I should pick them now, if they are as big as you say it is unlikley that they will grow any more. If you leave them for the pods to go brown, they will only be fit plant next year. If you want to save some seed for next year let the pods go brown and dry. Hope this helps you.
Richard M. Watkin.

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Karl Warner wrote:

Eaten fresh, they are excellent. Cook them as you would peas, they cook fairly quickly for their size (if fresh. If dried, long cooking). I saute a little garlic in oil, then add the favas, stock, seasonings, parsley, and cook until tender. They are a crop that you should plant in october, because they survive the winter in Zone 7, but do not like hot summer conditions where they get attacked by all sorts of pests. My favas, for example, this summer keeled over and begged out but for winter zone 8 they are just perfect. They also condition your soil very well. They break clay (they love clay), and they leave enough nitrogen you should not need to fertilize for the warm season crops.
Shell them when the pods start to change color and thickness, just like regular beans. Man, they are one of two or three zone 8 crops I really miss. Michigan just is not their place.
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Sorry, I'm a newbbie here whats caught my eye is this Zone 7 and Zone 8 business. Whats that about?

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http://www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html
http://www.growit.com/ZONES /
They are applicable to North America. Since you have a UK address, you can see the European equivalents here: http://www.uk.gardenweb.com/forums/zones/hze.html .
I do not personally find these zones all that meaningful. If you are indeed in the UK, you likely are located in the same zone as me, in the Seattle area, which is the same zone as Dallas, Texas, a place with a completely different climate. Like many other Western gardeners, I prefer the Generalized Western Plantclimates zones ("Sunset Zones"). The Sunset Zones are based on latitude, elevation, ocean vs. continental air mass influence, and local terrain topology. You can see a map here: http://www.sunset.com/sunset/garden/article/1,20633,845218,00.html .
--
Warm Regards,

Claire Petersky
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Thanks to all who replied. This has been an interesting experiment with promising results. I tried Google. Wow, now I am better informed and totally confused. ;) After all the caveats I was hesitant to eat them. But apparently they have been cultivated (and consumed) in the mid east for thousands of years. Also I just cannot believe people bothered to "peel" individual beans as recommended. I shelled and ate a few raw; they tasted and smelled just like fresh garden peas. Mine however look like lima beans but are larger than butter beans. Next I tried your recommendation and sauted a few in oil with garlic, etc. Very tasty. If they are easy to grow, I look forward to more.
Growing them is yet to be evaluated. You advised planting them in October and I have done so; we will see. I planted these in early summer on a whim. I do not recall on which day summer occurred this year :) perhaps that explains why these grew so well. I am only 200 yards from the surf. Most of the year we have high overcast with an average annual temperature of 60 deg F. A half mile inland it may be clear and sunny but here it is usually haze or fog. It has been a real challenge trying to find what will grow here. Tomatoes, for example, blossomed early but did not ripen until first of October. Peas and beans do ok, at least well enough to be worth the effort. Brussels sprouts, oth, thrive. Before now I have not tried growing anything through the winter due to the gloom and rain.
-- Karl

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sounds like the perfect climate for cabbage and favas, which you can probably grow year round. Not tomato country, no, but still lots of tasty things you can grow. It seems to me that you should try artichokes, perhaps even Hubbard squash. Now those are two other treats.
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When they are ready, serve them with liver and a fine Chianti...... ;-D
--
Om.

"My mother never saw the irony in calling me a son-of-a-bitch." -Jack Nicholson
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so I go along with Richard, shell them now, also because if you cut them down to two inches (use the cut plants in the compost pile) they will come again during the winter and produce a smaller crop in May.
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Fava beans are great for the PNW climate. You can plant them 3x a year (Fall, early spring and late spring). and, you can eat them green, like peas or wait 'til they're brown. The "Fava Bean Project" would be a great resource to check with. They're based in Oregon and should have a website. They also put out a little pamphlet on growing fava beans and different varieties.
I don't know if you've seen a frost, yet, but Favas are hardy and it might be interesting to see how long they'll hang on.
For recipes, middle eastern style would be yummy. They use favas a lot in Egypt.

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Apparently the "Fava Bean Project" no longer exists. I only recently discovered Google but that is the conclusion I get from reading various reports.
I planted them in several locations about my property and have decided to try different things. I have already eaten some and will harvest more, others I will allow to keep growing. If we happen to get a frost I will cover some but not others. I even cut a few down to stubble and split the tops, as someone suggested.
These were purchased in a packet from a convenience store rack. Obviously they are "Windsor" beans. If I can find them I would like to try planting some of the smaller ones as a ground cover for one of my raised beds. No matter how much compost I dig in, the soil here remains little more than dirty sand. Last month I actually hauled a truckload of clay and dug it into one of the beds. But that is another topic. -- Karl

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no need to cover, they should take at least 12F wtihout dying. for the smaller favas, go to the Territorial Seeds website. I am shocked that they do so well in sand, they have always been considered the ideal clay vegetable.
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Hmm, perhaps they do not necessarily prefer clay but simply do well in it in contrast to other plants. These were not planted in pure sand. My raised beds were occupied at the time so I just stuck them about the property among the landscaping (mostly rhodies and azaleas) to see what would happen. The sand has been amended over several years with kelp, cranberries (culls) and lots of pine needles -- definitely acidic. Oh yes, lots of fish carcasses get dug in also. But still it's mostly sand. I suspect the favas may not actually have any soil preference. (?)
I am getting really intrigued by these things. Some years ago, inland, I went on a kick of trying to grow veggies amongst my urban landscaping. The results were not encouraging. I have always been limited on the amount of real-estate I can afford so I try to utilize it to the maximum. These favas may look silly growing hither and yon, but golly they sure seem productive. I am surprised how well they compete with the shrubs. And they thrive under benign neglect. Now that's my preferred operating mode. :) -- Karl
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How to eat them will be yet another new experience. :)
Hannibal Lecter: A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.
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Karl Warner wrote:

Fava beans are a staple food in the Andes, which is where I became familiar with them, but they are originally part of that "circum-Mediterrean" trade circuit that spread foodstuffs and culinary traditions from Morocco through the middle east and around as far as the south of France and Spain, from whence you can head back to North Africa for another go 'round. They are popular in Italy, for example.
They make a great "meaty" soup bean, among other things. Slipping the skin off is a matter of preference, I suppose. If you think about how many pods of peas you would have to shell for a cup of peas, vs. how many pods of favas, you can see that even if you pop the skin off it takes about the same amount of time. If you cook them in something like soup, the skin will often slip off anyhow. Then you have fava skins floating around, which is not all that attractive or appealing.
A less familiar (and very Andean) way of preparing them is to toss them with a little oil and salt, then roast them in on a cookie sheet in a low oven (350 or so) until they are golden and crunchy. Stir them around every ten minutes or so--it takes about 30 minutes total. The effect is similar to roasted chickpeas, if you've ever had those--a little hard on the teeth, but very tasty snack!
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Fava beans, or as they are known in the UK, broad beans, are one of th
most commonly grown vegetables here. We plant in a shallow double ro 4-6 inches apart with around 6 inches between the two rows. Planted i the late fall they are less prone to blackfly than spring sown ones an are ready in June. They are, in UK conditions, totally frost hardy. If you pick them before the pods seem full they are very tender, but i left to grow larger develop a skin that some prefer to slip off afte cooking
-- DJBrenton
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