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Good Food Corner: Fava Beans

Fava Beans are one of the more than 400 whole foods Diane Onstead breaks down in The Whole Foods Companion. Fresh fava beans are large, flat, and oval, with a firm creamy texture and dainty, nutty taste. Young beans are quite tender, but as they mature, the skin covering the bean becomes coarser and tougher. Older beans need this coarse outer skin removed or “slipped” before they are eaten. If you are fortunate enough to be in possession of young beans, cook them whole. Simply trim the ends, rinse, and cook in boiling water for four to five minutes. The young pods are unexpectedly filling, and you will find one pound in weight will happily satisfy six to eight people as a side dish. Dried favas look like large lima beans and have a mealy, granular texture and an assertive flavor; they need long, slow cooking and their thick skins peeled before eating. Favas can be eaten on their own, in casseroles, or in salads. Served hot with melted butter, seasoned with salt and freshly ground pepper, and sprinkled with chopped parsley or basil, they are delicious. In most recipes, favas can be substituted for limas In the Greek and Roman world the broad bean was highly regarded, although there have been some very curious beliefs regarding these beans. Herodotus (History, II.xxxvii) recounts that the Egyptian priests regarded broad beans with horror as unclean, and Pythagoras, who imported many Egyptian elements into his religion, similarly despised them. A tenet of his doctrine of metempsychosis is that souls may transmigrate into beans after death. This may have some connection with the fact that bean feasts traditionally ended funerals, and that they figured in rites to rid households of the evil effects occasioned by the nocturnal visits of lemurs, the wandering souls of the wicked (in England, several beans were placed in graves to keep ghosts away, and if you happened to see a ghost, you were to spit a bean at it). Yet broad beans were popular enough with the lay folk, to whom they were distributed by candidates for public office at election times. The politicians were not simply currying favor, since the beans were used as voting tokens during magisterial elections… In Rome even now, a holiday cake is baked with one fava bean hidden inside; the one who gets the piece with the bean is crowned king (or queen) of the festivities. Find out more about fava beans and other whole foods.


Radical Ruminations of a Home Gardener

The editors here at Chelsea Green are constantly seeking out what’s new and important in the world of sustainable living. As part of an occasional blog series, our editors are sharing what they’ve been reading, researching, or just plain pondering. Below Senior Editor Fern Marshall Bradley daydreams about the coming growing season and reflects on some radical gardening ideas inspired by Maine farmer […] Read More

Not Level? No Problem. How to Build a Greenhouse on a Slope

Have you ever considered building a greenhouse on sloped terrain? It may not seem like the “perfect spot,” but as permaculture designer and farmer Shawn Jadrnicek points out, a sloped site for a greenhouse offers a bonus that a level site does not—the ability to use gravity to harvest rainwater.In his groundbreaking new book, The Bio-Integrated Farm, Jadrnicek offers in-depth information […] Read More

Ask the Experts: Submit Your Permaculture Questions Now

Attention all growers, food-lovers, and green-living enthusiasts, we are once again celebrating Permaculture Month by putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you. Chelsea Green is proud to publish and distribute some of the most recognized, and award-winning, names in permaculture, and we’re making several of them available to our readers to answer any and […] Read More

Hands-On Learning: School of The New American Farmstead

This summer, twelve of our authors (plus Chelsea Green’s own President and Publisher) will be leading hands-on intensive courses at Sterling College in Craftsbury, Vermont.These workshops, classes, and certifications will inspire you, equip you with marketable skills, and provide you with new perspectives on integrated, community-centered farming and food production.Engage your SensesThe hands-on courses will […] Read More

Q&A: Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution:

A Q&A with Eric Toensmeier, author of The Carbon Farming Solution: A Global Toolkit of Perennial Crops and Regenerative Agriculture Practices for Climate Change Mitigation and Food SecurityQ: “Carbon farming” is a term that isn’t yet widely recognized in the mainstream. And even among people who are familiar with the term, not everyone agrees on what […] Read More
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