Vicia faba is more commonly known as broad bean or fava bean. The broad bean is a type of bean that is widely cultivated as a crop for human consumption. Here is another reason why farmers and growers plant broad beans: this is an excellent cover crop because they help prevent soil erosion. The broad bean is a species of flowering plant in the pea and bean family Fabaceae.
Do not confuse this with the smaller and harder variety. This is usually used for feeding horses and other animals. They usually call this field bean, tic bean, or tick bean, and one variety is aptly named: Horse bean or Vicia faba var. equina Pers.
Species: V. faba
Binomial name: Vicia faba
Broad Bean Trivia
- The origin of the broad bean is uncertain.
- Another name for the broad bean is faba bean.
- Most vetches have tendrils for climbing over other vegetation. The leaves of broad bean plants do not have this feature.
- The flower of a broad bean plant is usually white. However, there is also a crimson-flowered broad bean plant, and this has been recently saved from extinction.
- Third millennium BCE broad beans were found in several Mediterranean Basin and Central Asia archaeological sites.
Broad Bean Buying Guide
Don’t be confused when buying. Some manufacturers use fava beans. Others use broad beans. Both contain the same kind of bean. If you are in the US, you’ll probably hear people use the name fava bean more often. But in countries like the UK, Australia, and New Zealand, the term they commonly use is broad bean.
If you ask a grocery or supermarket assistant to point you to fava beans or broad beans, you have to be specific regarding what you want or what you are looking for. Broad beans for snacking are in one section, and the broad beans for cooking are in another section of the grocery.
Broad Bean Production & Farming in Texas
This erect, annual plant that can grow to as high as 6 feet usually has two to four stems and glaucous, gray-green, pinnate leaves as long as 25 centimeters. The flowers of a broad bean are usually white with black spots and it has a sweet scent that attracts pollinators. Once the broad bean plant bears fruit, it is a green, leathery pod that darkens to almost blackish-brown during maturity that contains 3 to 8 oval seeds. While it is common for beans to prefer warm climates, broad beans are known to survive cold climates. And unlike most legumes that prefer a pH of 6 to 7, broad beans can grow in soil with high salinity.
Several pests target broad beans, like the black bean aphids. Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
Broad beans have been cultivated in the Old World. The Mediterranean diet of beans around 6000 BCE or earlier consists of broad beans along with lentils, peas, and chickpeas.
There are different fava bean or broad bean products sold in the market requiring different kinds of packaging. Broad beans sold as a snack (roasted broad beans) are often sold in resealable tear notch aluminum foil Mylar bags or resealable plastic packs. Some brands even use plastic cups with a lid so that it is easy and convenient to carry around when snacking. Broad beans preserved in liquid are sold in cans. Dry broad beans are also sold in a vacuum-sealed plastic pack, especially for broad beans sold in large quantities.
Packaging should include a label that indicates important details about the product – manufacturer, country of origin, nutritional data, ingredients, best before or expiry date, and other important information that should be disclosed to the buyer as per existing trade and health laws and regulations.
Enjoying Broad Beans
The best time to consume broad beans is when it is still young and tender. The immature pods and the young leaves of the plant can also be eaten.
Broad beans are eaten raw or cooked but make sure to remove the outer seed coat when eating broad beans. Actually, the outer seed coat can be eaten but only from a young plant; even the seed pod can be eaten but this is only from very young plants. The challenge is knowing what you can eat from what you have, depending on the age of the plant from which the broad beans came from.
A warning though: eating broad beans may result in favism. This is a hemolytic response to the consumption of broad beans. This is a condition linked to a metabolism disorder known as G6PDD. People diagnosed with favism should also avoid broad beans. The alkaloid glycoside vicine in broad beans could trigger a hemolytic crisis. Broad beans contain low toxin concentrations of phytohaemagglutinin, so make sure to boil the beans for 10 minutes before eating them. Broad beans also contain levodopa. Patients taking irreversible monoamine oxidase inhibitors should not eat broad beans
For dry broad beans, make sure you transfer them to a food-safe container with a tight-sealing lid after buying them from the supermarket or grocery. Put the container in a cool, dry place. Avoid areas where the container is exposed to direct sunlight. If it comes in a resealable pack, just make sure to seal the pack if there are still broad beans left there. Canned broad bean products are safe at room temperature as long as they are not exposed to direct sunlight.
A common way to cook broad beans is to fry them. It will cause the skin to split open. You can add salt or other spices to produce the savory flavor you prefer. This makes an excellent snack. Fried or roasted broad beans are a niche in the food manufacturing industry. Broad beans are cooked in different ways all around the world.
In Algeria, broad beans are used in making besarah and doubara, which is popular in the city of Biskra. In China, broad beans are used to make doubanjiang, a spicy fermented bean paste. Broad beans are popular in Bogota and Boyacá in Colombia. Ecuadorian cook broad beans with cheese. Egyptians prefer broad beans shelled and then dried when they eat them. They also use broad beans in making falafel. Ful medames, Egypt’s national dish, is made from mashed and cooked broad beans seasoned with salt and cumin. This is eaten with bread, commonly during breakfast. Ethiopians use broad beans to make flour they call shiro. The ingredients of two spicy vegetable dishes (hilibet and siljo) eaten during religious occasions include broad beans. Other Ethiopian foods made with broad beans include baqella nifro (boiled broad beans), Boq’ullit (boiled salted broad beans embryo). Greeks cook broad beans in a stew along with artichokes. They also eat salted boiled broad beans with garlic sauce. The Indian dish eromba contains broad beans. In Iran, broad beans are cooked in brine or dried. Baghalee polo combines the dried broad beans with rice. In Iraq, broad beans are used in making breakfast food like Bagilla Bil-Dihin and Fool. Italians cook broad beans with lamb while in Japan, broad beans are a popular snack called ikarimame. In Luxembourg, broad beans are cooked with red meat like pork (or bacon in the Netherlands). The Maltese kusksu, the Mexican sopa de habas, the Moroccan dip bessara, the Peruvian Pachamanca, Aji de habas, Saltado de habas, El chupe de habas, Ajiaco de Papas y habas, Guiso de habas, and Shambar, the Portuguese Favas guisadas à Portuguesa and favada, the Serbian bobove pihtije – these are all broad beans-based dishes.
Broad beans contain carbohydrates, protein, calories, folate, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B. Eating broad beans can help in digestion and lower cholesterol levels in the body.