Broad Bean Harvesting Tips

The broad bean, otherwise known as the fava bean, is a harbinger of spring much like peas and asparagus. The broad bean is one of the first vegetables that are to be harvested each year. The broad bean is the only bean that is native to the Old World as all the others are indigenous to South and Central America. The broad bean is used from China to Spain with its use being recorded in Chinese cooking for as far back as 5,000 years. Harvesting the broad bean depends on your particular use for this vegetable and this article will help guide you in this process.

The Right Time to Harvest

The broad bean is an annual grown in cool weather. It grows upright and bushy anywhere from 2 to 4 feet tall. The stems of the broad bean are squared and they sport blue-green leaves. Short pods hold 4 beans but they can hold as many as 8 beans depending on the pod length. Broad beans are ready to be harvested once the bean pods have fully developed. You will be able to tell when they are ready to be harvested when they are large and flat. If you have planted the long variety you will want to measure the pod length. The peak time for harvesting broad beans is between April and June.

Which Broad Bean Pods to Harvest

Look for the broad bean pods that are light to bright green. These are the pods that are evenly developed. And early pod will be pale green in color and smooth to the touch. Older broad bean pods will be yellowish-green and the pods will be lumpy. The more yellow coloring found on the pod indicates how old the bean pod is. Do not pick broad beans with wrinkled pods or ends that appear black. If you are not certain that the broad bean is fresh then open the pod. The white lining inside should be moist and the bean should be green.

Broad Bean Harvesting Based on Need

Just because the broad bean is ready to be harvested does not mean you are ready to harvest it. The broad bean is harvested based on your needs. If you want the broad bean to be sweeter in taste and tender then you want to harvest the broad bean pods when they are relatively young. This is approximately a 2 to 3 inch pod length. At this stage the broad bean can be eaten whole, shelled, cooked or eaten raw. If your intent is to use the broad bean in place or with English peas then wait until the bean pods are medium-sized. They will cook quickly and can easily be shelled. The pod length will be 4 to 6 inches. In order to use the broad bean as a dry bean then wait until the  bean pod is 7 to 12 inches long. You can then shell the beans and allow them to dry and they will be cooked the same way was other dry beans.