Vicia faba (75 days) Open-pollinated. Bush type. The classic heirloom variety, listed by Fearing Burr in Field and Vegetable Gardens of America in 1863. We sell about a half ton of these each year. Nikos boils the shelled beans in salted water—this simple dish was the hit of every summer potluck. Tall bush habit—may want support as the hefty pods ripen. Brown seed. In susceptible humans who have inherited a specific enzyme deficiency, within a few minutes of inhaling pollen or several hours after eating fava beans, a severe allergic reaction occurs. Most individuals have this enzyme and are not affected.③
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Avg 35 seeds/pkt, 280 per lb. Also called broad beans and horse beans.
Days to maturity are from emergence after direct sowing.
Culture: Favas tolerate frost and prefer daytime air temps below 75°. More heat can cause poor pod set, while in cooler climates a second flush can appear. Don’t delay: sow the large seeds 3–4" apart as early as peas. Usually harvested when the 2–3 light green beans in the 3–6" glossy pods reach the green shell stage—shelled beans can be squeezed out of their membranes after parboiling.
Staffer Emily Skrobis contests the need to peel each bean. She says, “I’d recommend that for dried favas, but fresh is another story. You lose a lot of flavor and food (and time!) that way. Keeping the membranes on alters the texture, of course, but I still thoroughly enjoy them. Homesteading is a lot of work and I try to avoid extra steps in processing, and so I decided to just get used to keeping on all tomato skins and fava membranes.” To avoid this issue altogether, you can harvest them young when pods and membranes are still tender.
Favas are mainstays in many cultures from ancient Rome to modern-day Mexico, Egypt, Sudan, the Middle East, Brazil and India. Rich in fiber and iron and highest of all beans in protein. You can even eat the leaves!
For the latest results of our germination tests, please see the germination page.