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Feb 28, 2010 11:17 AM

How to tell if fava beans are peeled or not?

Hi - I'm attempting falafel for the first time. My recipe calls for both chickpeas and fava beans. I picked up a bag of fava beans from whole foods - but I'm not sure if they're peeled or not. The bag doesn't say. I have them soaking in water right now. They're greenish/brownish, with a dark almost black sort of slit at one end of each bean. If I cut a bean in half, it is clear that there is a thin greenish/brownish skin over two white halves. This would almost suggest that they're unpeeled (as this skin could probably be described as a peel) - but the guides I've seen online that show how to peel fava beans show a much thicker peel being removed.

Thus I'm about 75% sure that these are already peeled.

But I figured I should check with the pros :p


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  1. Fresh fava beans are usually peeled twice, once to remove the large pod, which contains the individual "beans" (they are actually members of the vetch or pea family), and then blanched and then you remove the skins around the individual "beans". What you have are favas which have been removed from the outer thick pod; however, it sounds like they need to be cooked briefly, and then you remove the individual skins. The favas that you are using have not yet been peeled.

    6 Replies
    1. re: inthekitchen

      This post appears to be very old, but I have never peeled favas twice.

      1. re: jvanderh

        And I have never not done so except for the time I did it once and didn't like have that inner "casing" on the favas.

        1. re: jvanderh

          depends on the usage if the outer covering of the shelled bean is removed the bean is more tender and it's better for some applications. In Middle Eastern cuisine I've seen the outer covering left on in many dishes. It can gives the bean a wrinkled appearance after cooking.

          1. re: jvanderh

            inthekitchen was speaking about fresh fava beans still in the pod. If you didn't have to remove two outer coatings, you probably were using a package of dried fava beans w/ the outside pod already removed. This is what the michael j n most likely bought at Whole Foods. inthekitchen was trying to explain why his beans looked different, and needed only a thinner coat removed, in contrast w/ the fresh beans in the online guides he described. It would have been better not to have perpetuated the confusion in your post. michael j n also made it clear that he would be grinding the beans for falafel.

          2. re: inthekitchen

            Cooked from a whole dry bean they need to be peeled , I just had some yesterday I also buy split dry fava's and there is no need to peel those In addition a brand of dry felafal mix called "Gourmet" is easy to prepare and when baked is pretty good.

            1. re: scunge

              You don't need to peel the dry favas if you are using them in a recipe for whole, cooked beans. But if you are making falafel, as in the OP, and will be grinding them soaked but raw, they need the skins removed.

          3. Not for nothing, but it also depends on when the fava was harvested or if purchased fresh/dried.

            Ones harvested early in the growing season only need to be peeled out of the hull (large pod).
            If they were harvested late in the season, they need to be peeled twice, because by that time they've developed the 2nd "skin".

            4 Replies
            1. re: Novelli

              Ah, yes, removed from the pod and then peeled, of course! I should have read more carefully. I thought itk was saying to peel each bean twice. And, yes, the baby beans only need to be removed from the pod.

              1. re: jvanderh

                jvanderh: I thought the same thing and luckily read your post before posting about it myself.

                1. re: oakjoan

                  I appreciate you admitting that. It makes me feel like slightly less of an idiot :-D

              2. re: Novelli

                I'm always encouraged when people know something about fava beans.
                In Napa, not only are fava beans considered a fabulous food, they are also a very important cover crop, planted between the grape vines, like mustard, to fix nitrogen in the soil.
                For the last 15 years, I cook fava beans, every weekend, during spring and through out summer, just because I can.
                Another fabulous bean, is the garbanzo bean, which, if you can obtain fresh, is nothing like the dried or canned version, which cannot compare. Fresh garbanzo beans are another amazing legume, which are hard to find. Occasionally, I find them at a market in Napa, or a friend finds them for me, grown at a private farm or garden. I am hoping to grow them this year, in my garden.

              3. I know this post is really old, but since it has been bumped, I thought I'd add my two cents.

                Tha favas called for in falafel recipes are not the green favas we are used to. They are small brown favas like the ones used in Ful Medames. Falafel recipes use peeled and split favas. They are beige and look somewhat like oblong split peas.

                7 Replies
                1. re: SnackHappy

                  I've seen a lot of bright green falafel.

                  1. re: jvanderh

                    That's because they contain parsley and coriander. My falafel are always bright green and no green fava bean has ever come near them.

                    1. re: SnackHappy

                      I've made falafel with herbs, and it is definitely not the bright, all-over green that I see in a lot of falafel. Although you may not do it, I think a lot of people make falafel with green favas.

                      1. re: jvanderh

                        These were made with dried chickpeas and dried favas. A bit of parsley and cilantro were added as well. Would go well on St. Patty's Day

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          Well, you can make them with black turtle beans if you want. I'm just saying that's not what they use in the Middle-East.

                          1. re: SnackHappy

                            So is anybody going to post ideas/recipes for FRESH garbanzos? I see them all the time at Berkeley Bowl and don't buy them because I never know what to do with them.

                            Okay, after posting this message I found some recipes for fresh garbs here on Chowhound....see below.


                            1. re: SnackHappy

                              I've used chickpeas for mine.

                              There are two comments here: from Middle Easterners saying that green favas are the more authentic.

                              I don't really care which is more commonly used. I just think it's sort of silly to make a stink about it. It's supposed to be peasant food (use what you can find), and the taste difference between green and brown favas can't be as noticeable as the taste difference between favas and chickpeas.