It definitely feels like spring has sprung when you see bright green broad beans in the supermarket or green grocer. Young broad beans add a burst of sweet, fresh flavour and vitamins to salads, purees and pasta dishes. Here’s our guide to how to cook with broad beans, including how to choose, store and prepare them.
How to choose and store broad beans
Look for pale green beans with no brown spots. Press them to check for air pockets. Store them in a perforated bag in the crisper drawer of your fridge. They should last for 3-5 days.
How to prepare broad beans
To pod or to double pod, that is the question. And the answer all depends on how young and fresh your broad beans are. Very young broad beans will have a thinner pod and skin, so happily you can eat the whole broad bean, pod and all.
As they get older, the outer pod toughens and gets stringy so you will need to pop the bean out of the pod before cooking.
And if they’re older still, you will need to double pod them. This means you need to remove the bean from the pod and then slip the skin off the bean. The best way to do this is to bring them to the boil, and once cool enough to handle, slip the skin off the bean. Older broad beans have a tough skin around the bean that will be unpleasantly chewy and grey.
What are the health benefits?
If I’m going to sit and pod and double pod broad beans, I hope they’re worth it. Yes, broad beans are totally worth the effort, both in terms of taste and health benefits. These mighty legumes are packed with nutrients and are an excellent vegetable source of protein and fibre. They’re also rich in folate and B vitamins.
How to cook with broad beans
Whether you’re cooking the whole bean, pod and all, or just the bean, the best way to get to that sweet little nugget within, is to parboil it. With the whole pod, you first need to top and tail it, much the same way as a green bean. Then add to a pot of salted boiling water until bright green. Transfer to a bowl of iced water to stop from overcooking, then go about shedding its grey skin to reveal the bright bean beneath.
You may like to cook the beans a little longer if you’re planning on mashing them, but remember, you want to keep that lovely bright green colour. If you cook broad beans too much, they will turn a darker, duller green that is not as appetising.
Feeling inspired? Try these spring-ready broad bean recipes
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