Beans (favas,romano & runners)- part 2

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this is a continued info sheet all about different types of beans – read Part 1 here.

Romano type beans are a form of flat snap bean which originated in Italy. Like other snap beans, Romano beans are supposed to be eaten whole. (see our “Marvel of Venice”)They are considered ripe when they make a crisp “snap” if they are broken in half, and they have a very mild flavor and a tender texture. To use Romano beans, snap or trim off the ends and lightly cook to retain their crunchy texture, or cook until they are extremely tender. These beans are often braised with other summer vegetables and eaten as a side dish, and they can also be added to soups, stews, stir fries, and assortment of other dishes. Perfect for pasta, salad, soups, dips etc with plenty of garlic, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Broad beans have a nuttier taste than common beans and runner beans.

You may also hear these legumes referred to as Italian flat beans or Italian snap beans, but don’t confuse them with fava beans, which are sometimes labeled as “Italian broad beans”. These snap beans are flattened, rather than rounded.


Fava beans (Vicia faba) (broad beans in the UK) are large, flat, light green pods usually eaten shelled for their delicious beans.The plant is a small annual with an erect stem growing to the height of up to 6 feet. (most around 2′)  Light green fruit pods develop out of the flowers, hold about 6-10 flat, broad, irregularly oval-shaped beans inside and are one of the oldest plants under cultivation; they were eaten in ancient Greece and Rome. References to favas occur in both the Talmud and the Mishna, indicating they have been part of the Middle Eastern diet since at least since the 4th century. Despite the name, fava beans are a member of the pea family, also known as broad beans, pigeon beans, horse beans, and windsor beans.

To peel or not to peel? Apparently Italians do not.  Size – between little fingernail and thumbnail, eat raw; a little bigger than thumbnail, braise.
Size a good bit bigger than thumbnail, leave on the bean stalk to dry for winter storage. Dried fava are an important winter store and make a magnificent pureed bean soup, especially if served with bitter chicory greens in the soup or on the side.
All too often, even in good farmers’ markets, the beans available are too fat and old and too tough to do anything with them beyond boiling the bejeesus out of them and then peeling each individual. No wonder they are not more popular!
If you are a peeler:  Here’s a tip for peeling them that doesn’t require the stove or a single drop of water: use your freezer!
Shuck the fava beans out of their pods, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet or plate.
Place in the freezer until the fava beans are frozen solid, at least 30 minutes. (If not using immediately, transfer them to a resealable plastic bag and keep frozen.)
Let the fava beans sit at room temperature until they’re defrosted, it should take about 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready when the skins start to look wrinkly.
Pop the fava beans out of their skins and they’re ready to cook. If you stash the unpeeled beans in the freezer, you can defrost, peel, and use them at your leisure throughout the year!

Sow broad beans in spring as soon as the soil can be worked for harvest before the weather warms. Broad beans (Vicia faba) and runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) are cooler season crops. They need temperatures in the range of 7°C to 23°C to grow. Broad beans withstand frosts but won’t survive hot, humid weather.

If you have a problem with mice, you may find peas and broad beans are difficult to get going, simply because the seeds get eaten before they have a chance to germinate. Fortunately, the mice don’t seem to be interested in seeds that have started to sprout. Rather than start all of our peas and broad beans in trays, we find that we can get away with simply pre-sprouting the seed on a thick layer of damp kitchen towel, then carefully planting them out as soon as the root starts to show. Ideally they should go into the ground before the roothairs have started to develop. This works best  once the soil has started to warm up a bit in spring, say from around mid April.

I am hoping to add a couple of unique & rare varieties to Seeds of IMBOLC’s offerings next season……stay tuned!


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