You are right, fava beans in their natural state, lie in a pod that is about 6-9 inches long -- much like pea pods, but larger. Choose pods that have a bright green pod and are firm to the touch. Pass on pale or dark pods and especially ones that are soft or squishy to the touch. Pass on those with spots or other blemishes. Avoid pods that have bulging beans, as well.
How to Shell Fava BeansOnce you have chosen the perfect fresh fava bean specimens, it's time to shell them. Shelling is a term that simply describes removing the beans from the pod. At the top of the pod, there is a stem -- snap it like you would a pea pod. Pull the stem string down to open the whole pod. Remove beans from pod -- they should easily come out and set aside. You aren't quite done yet!
The next step is to remove the waxy shell from the bean. The easiest way to accomplish this task is by parboiling the beans for about 4 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. The "skins" should come out with little effort.
Finally, you are done shelling fava beans! It is a bit of a time consumer to have to shell them, but one that is certainly worth the effort! The reward is the deliciously bitter yet somewhat sweet flavor of the fresh fava bean.
Fava Cooking Facts
If your recipe calls for 1lb of fava beans, buy two pounds of fresh. The pods will double the weight of the beans.
Fresh, shelled favas will last about 3-5 days in the refrigerator. Unshelled fava beans that are still in their pods will last about a week or so in the refrigerator. Look for signs of spoilage, such a foul smell, bulging, pods, and discoloration of the pod.
- Dogs have trouble digesting fava beans, so no scraps for Fido. (Yes, I learned this from experience.) More Toxic Foods for Dogs