Fava beans are a culinary treasure around the world. They are packed in protein, aid weight loss, and fit well into many recipes.
But, if you want to have homegrown fava beans in your recipes, you need to know how to grow and harvest them.
When to harvest fava beans?
The best time of the year to harvest fava beans, generally speaking, is the spring, summer, and autumn. The time of the year that you plant your fava beans determines when they will be ready for harvesting and eating. Spring plants mature in three months, autumn plants mature in eight to nine months.
Read on below and learn all about when to harvest fava beans in this step-by-step guide!
How Long Does It Take from Growing to Harvesting Fava Beans?
Fava beans are generally planted one of two times per year; in the early spring or sometime during the fall.
For beans that are planted in the springtime, you need about 3 months of growing your beans before harvesting them.
Fava beans planted in the autumn require around 8 to 9 months of growing time before harvesting.
Further, if you take care when harvesting your plants, and maintain them in between harvests, fava beans may produce more than one yield.
In other words, if you plant your fava bean plants in the spring, and harvest the bean crop in the summer, but keep watering them and caring for them, they are likely to produce more blooms and beans again in the autumn.
Likewise, if you plant your beans in the autumn, and care for them well, they will produce in the spring, summer, and possibly fall.
However, some climates don’t promote the right conditions for the second harvest of fava beans.
That said, you may take them inside if they are planted in containers, or grow them in a greenhouse if you really want to try for that second crop even in a climate that isn’t suitable.
When are Fava Beans Ready to Harvest?
Fava beans can be planted in the spring, or after the summer heat passes in the autumn.
When you opt to plant fava beans in the spring, they are normally ready in approximately three months. In other words, spring plants usually produce beans by early to mid-summertime.
On the flip side, fava bean plants put into the ground in the fall don’t yield beans until the following year (in the spring).
The best way to tell that they are ready to be harvested is by testing them with your fingers and sense of touch.
Squeeze the mature fava beans with your finger and pointer finger. If the beans in the pod feel completely full, with no give/bounce to them, they are indeed ripe and ready for picking.
The average mature fava bean pod measures between 6 and 8 inches in length. You can even eat them raw, like fresh snap peas.
How to Harvest Fava Beans?
Fava beans are one of the easiest sorts of beans that there are to harvest. When they are fully ripe, they practically release themselves from the main stalk if you pull them away properly.
Essentially, once you are sure they are ready for harvesting, all you need to do is grab ahold of each pod, one by one, and gently angle it downwards, towards the central stem.
Alternatively, you may bend them upwards and to the side, or even cut them off with snippers of scissors. If you opt for cutting, make sure to cut each pod off from the plant as close to the main stem as possible.
Each individual pod will pop right off and you can move right through them, steadily moving on to the next ones.
Toss the pods into a container and rinse them off in the kitchen when you’ve harvested them all.
Make sure to double-check for pods that look sick, unhealthy, or otherwise damaged at this point. Throw them in the garbage if you find any.
Also, after you finish harvesting your fava beans, if you aren’t trying for a second harvest, make sure to pull the plants up and lay them back down onto the soil or add them to your compost pile.
As with other bean plants, fava bean plants add nitrogen back into the soil as they decompose.
We’ll discuss more about what to do with your freshly harvested fava beans in the next section!
What Do You Do With Fava Beans After Harvest?
Now that you know how long your fava beans take from planting until harvest, as well as how to properly harvest and store them, let’s discover several ways to use your fava beans, below.
Fava beans are a versatile culinary ingredient, especially for being a bean. They are just as often used as the main ingredient as they are used as a co-ingredient with meat and vegetables.
These tasty beans are often boiled, fried, dried, sauteed, and even roasted or grilled.
Fava beans can be eaten fresh or added to virtually any recipe that calls for beans or some form of solid protein.
Some of the most popular things that you can do with fava beans after harvesting include:
- Eat them fresh/raw
- Can them
- Dry them
- Use them in a smoothie
- Smoke them
- Pickle them
- Make them into pesto
- Use them in a mixed-bean salad
- Add them to soup
- Add them to stew
- Use them in pasta
- Saute them
- Boil them
- Roast them
- Steam them
- Fry them
- Grill them
Some of the main recipes and side dishes people enjoy using fava beans for are:
- Roasted chicken and fava beans
- Fava beans in five bean salad
- Grilled fava beans as a side
- Flatbread and fava beans
- Fava bean soup
- Sauteed fava beans with basil and garlic
Note: it’s best to presoak the peeled fava beans overnight first and add a dash of salt to the water if you boil them (for soup, or to add to another dish).