Are Fava Beans like Lima or Butter Beans?

vgkg(Z-7)January 29, 2014

Fava beans look like lima (or what we call them here as butterbeans). But if anyone has tried Fava I was just wondering if that tasted similar to BBs or if they're distinctive in other ways? I'm thinking of growing them but not unless they are judged worth it by you growers and eaters. Thanks for your insights.

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Does anyone remember when Burpee's catalogs stated "Some people of Mediterranean descent may be allergic to Fava beans"?
I always wondered why that would be and if it was true.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:17PM
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I grew 35-ish plants, and I got probably 3-5 lbs worth of Beans. They're good for having a few times, but for me, I wouldn't want them often. I made some dish from a recipe on the internet with them. I don't know the flavours of those beans you mentioned, so I can't tell you if they're similar.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2014 at 9:39PM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Yes, some people of Mediterranean ancestry are allergic to fava beans. I don't remember why, but I'm sure you could google it.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 6:14AM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Favas are larger than the typical lima and typical butter bean and are a different color when dried and /or cooked so have a very different flavor too.

IME limas remain green when cooked, butter beans tend to turn pale yellow and favas go tan to brown. Google images has pics of them side by side for comparison.

I'd describe the fava flavor as a bit darker, richer with a hint of a smoked flavor. We like them alone or mixed with other beans but from what I have heard from others who don't, they are apparently an acquired taste.

Of course a lot of the taste is determined by the recipe they are used in. We tried adding them to pickled 3 bean salad once - can't recommend that at all. :)


    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:11PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

I grow favas (called broad beans here) every year but we always eat them fresh and green, never as dried beans. They do not taste like other green beans but it is hard to describe the flavour. They are very easy to cook and are good with a bit of chopped bacon or cold with a vinaigrette. I have never eaten a green butter bean so can't compare the flavours. Favas grow in cool weather so I would have thought they would be a useful crop for fresh eating when limas can't grow. I can't grow butter or lima beans in my climate.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 12:53PM
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Thank you all for the thoughtful replies. For the past 2 years I've tried growing a lima variety called King of the Garden but without any good results / poor production. VgQn thought that Favas might be a good change of pace but if they prefer cooler climates then that explains why I cannot find fava seed locally (too hot here, but perfect for limas/butter beans). Unfortunately for me King of the Garden are the only pole type offered locally that I can find available. Every other lima or butter bean seeds at outlets here are the bush types. Oh well, this was the year for me to trim back on my plantings anyways, probably for the best. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 1:31PM
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Mezcla has become popular as a pole baby pole lima. Locals here carry it.It is a white not green tinted. Broad beans are a cool weather crop, in warmer climates grown in early spring in the same time frame as English peas.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 3:21PM
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I just came back from the south of Chile. I was picking in a patch where the plants were six feet or more tall. I didn't know favas got that tall! The beans ran about an inch and a half across. People down there don't eat the thick skins. I sometimes eat them and sometimes not. That is a big difference between favas and limas.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:35PM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

Not all favas get that big. There are plenty of dwarf cultivars. I've grown several which end up about 3 feet max. Aquadulce Claudia is a hardy one which can be sown in November to over winter. I also like Masterpiece Green Longpod. Here are some spring sown MGL taken 27th May (we do have very cool summers!)

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 4:52PM
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sunnibel7 Md 7(7)

Vgkg- have you looked in the southern Exposure catalog? They have a large selection of pole limas. They'd be shipping to you from Mineral, Va which is local. Though I can't be sure the seed was grown in Va. Sorry to hear you've not had success with King of the Garden, I just purchased some to trial this year.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 8:05PM
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wayne_5 zone 6a Central Indiana

For me, I just love the green Fordhook 242 when picked before they get full size and a lighter color. They are a bush bean but have outproduced pole for me.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2014 at 9:21PM
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Not only is favism real, but according to the wikipedia article, during the early years in Israel they switched from fava-based falafel (as in Egypt still) to chick-pea based due to a large immigration of Jews who are prone to the condition. It must be a similar thing to celiac disease.

IMO, nothing compares with the taste of butter beans!

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 7:30AM
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Again thanx everyone for the info.
sunnibel, hope you have better luck with King of the Garden than I had. I tried for 2 years and in 2 separate plots, one with poles, one with trellis support. Got about 6 pods from each batch. Beautiful vines and healthy foliage but no beans. I know that over ferting, esp N, will do this but that was not the case. Only thing I can think of that may have caused the poor results might have been over crowding? But it seemed like adequate spacing to me as compared to my previous seeding of pole Limas.

I used to grow a variety called Sieva Lima but they are not available at the local Southern States.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 10:01AM
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Interesting, PN Brown. In one of Betty MacDonald's books she describes fava beans as tasting like "Ivory soap boiled in quinine". Sheesh !

    Bookmark   January 31, 2014 at 11:34PM
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Actually, the mature beans though laborious to prepare are very tasty IMO.

VK, that Sieva Lima is almost impossible to find now for some reason. I grew years ago in MA and it did pretty well but I foolishly did not save seed.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 8:12AM
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Campanula UK Z8

OMG Broadies - top vegetable and most longed for crop every year. You can keep your asparagus, micro-greens and such....who cares when the broad beans are nestling in their pillowy pods, just sighing for the addition of some olive oil and crispy bacon. Salivating already.

Naturally, I stand guard over mine in order to eat them all myself---the philistines in my family can gorge on runners or frenchies but the broadies are mine....all mine.

In truth, as soon as the broad beans and first early potatoes are over, I lose all interest in the veg plot (apart from a brief tomato flurry).

I have only eaten butter beans which come from tins (horrible memories of school dinners - shudder) and have not even seen one for over 40 years (and hope I never do).

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 9:20AM
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Camp, I too cannot stand butter beans from a can nor frozen, these are just as terrible and overly large and tough as the green peas found in tv dinners, yuk.

Wayne, thanks for the Fordhook bush tip but my bush days are over except for snaps (green beans) which is the best way to freeze large fresh batches at once. My back ain't what she used to be so my days bending over to pick BBs is behind me. Last year while I was expecting a dismal repeat of King of the Garden limas I planted Butter Peas bush variety as a back-up, these were productive and tasty but way too much effort bending over to harvest. Sticking to pole picking.

PN, wonder what the heck happened to Sieva seed beans? If King of the Hill seed wasn't offered around here we'd have zero pole varieties on the market today. Wish too that I had saved some Sieva seed :(

    Bookmark   February 1, 2014 at 9:44AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

"Actually, the mature beans though laborious to prepare are very tasty IMO." The beans only need peeling if they get mature. We eat them young and never peel. Like Campanula, we look forward to the first broad beans of the year.

We also eat canned butter beans ... sorry.... drained and sauteed with plenty of garlic or made into hummus. Sadly , never had a fresh one nor ever seen one for sale here. We do eat dried butter beans too but they need some forward planning.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 3:25AM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

As I know it, Fava beans are bigger and have much thicker skin than lima.
Most beans have some amount of toxins. That is more pronounced in, for example, in Lalab(hyacinth) beans. And that is why you have to soak them in cold water , change the water few time and even pre boil them and strain it before fully cooking and eating. For one thing, they produce stomach gas. I am not a big fan of beans for that reason. Apparently the bad stuff is concentrated more in the skin.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 6:53AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

seysonn - if you eat broad beans (favas) young the skin is barely discernible. I've never peeled one in my life and I don't intend to start. We eat them as fresh green beans, not as dried beans and there is no soaking and no wind problem with them. When very, very young they don't even need podding, let alone skinning.

Here is a link that might be useful: Broad beans as used here.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 1:17PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Floral, Maybe we are talking about different beans.

Mature fava bean has a tough thick skin, fresh or dried. I am sure if picked young it will be tender. No question in my mind that the dried fava bean, after soakin should be pealed. One might argue against it. Why do we peal potato and apple ? But fava bean skin is 10 times thicker than apple skin and it is woody.

Here is How I use fresh MATURE fava bean:

Cut it length wise in half.
Soak it in salt water
Peal off the skin(come off). Now each bean is split into 4 pieces
I saute is and use it many ways, eg, mix it with steamed rice.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 6:37AM
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floral_uk z.8/9 SW UK

seysonn - we are talking about the same beans. What I am saying is that they are very widely grown and eaten over here but they are ALWAYS eaten fresh, green and preferably very young. If you look at the picture at my link you'll see the kind of size we'd eat them. We don't use them as dried beans, so peeling them doesn't arise. Some people peel them when used fresh but if they need it imo they are well past their best. I pod them and cook just like peas. i.e. about 2 - 3 minutes in boiling water.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 7:25AM
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Flora and Camp, yes I've tried the broad beans very young and to me they did not seem quite as good as young peas, or about the same perhaps. I rather like them better as mature beans, but then all the peeling is tiresome.

No doubt this is a case of what one is used to. I love young peas - but most other legumes I prefer as shellies, or fully dry (I also love peas as mature shellies - still green in the pods but VERY strong flavor in the peas).

    Bookmark   February 3, 2014 at 8:16AM
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