What are broad beans?

A member of the legume family, broad beans are pretty hardy and adaptable – they grow in most soils and climates. They're a great source of protein and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins A, B1 and B2. In the US, they're known as fava beans.

How to prepare broad beans

Broad beans should be podded from their velvety jackets before using. Slit each pod along its seam and run your thumb along the furry inside to push the beans out.

To double pod – or remove the thin skin that covers each individual bean – blanch the beans for 2 mins, drain and cool under cold water before using your nail to slit the leathery skin, then pop out the bright green bean. If the broad beans are particularly large, this outer skin can be quite leathery. Although double podding can be labour-intensive, it's a therapeutic task that reveals creamy, vibrant, sweet beans that sing of the flavours of spring.

You can also buy podded broad beans frozen. These don't need to be blanched if you're double podding – simply defrost, then remove their little jackets.

How to cook broad beans

Double pod and purée with feta or hummus to make a dip for crudités. Pod and dress in a chilli & mint vinaigrette with burrata or mozzarella, or stir through risottos, soups and salads.

Find more information on how to cook broad beans.

How to store broad beans

Keep in a perforated bag in the fridge for up to five days. Blanched beans can be frozen and stored for up to three months if you have a glut.

When are broad beans in season?

Broad beans are at their peak from the end of June to mid-September. Broad beans are easy to grow in a veg patch or allotment.

Learn how to grow your own broad beans from the experts at Gardeners’ World.

Choose the best broad beans

Buy broad beans as fresh as possible – pods should be firm and crisp. Avoid any that feel soft with pockets of air inside.

Alternatives to broad beans

Try runner beans, French beans or flat beans.