Young favas with thin pods and pea-sized beans may start showing up in markets as early as February. Many Italians prefer them young, small and delicate. Try munching a few - leaves, pods and all. Add the leaves to salads or use as a replacement for basil when making pesto. Decorate salads, drinks or baked goods with the flowers.
Don’t expect to find full-sized favas until late March or April; the season can last until June. In some of the international markets like Super King, full-sized favas may be available in early March. When choosing full size favas, select pods that are smooth and filled out along the entire length. The pods with the smallest bumps are the youngest and tastiest. If the beans are bulging, they are probably over-ripe.
Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find fresh fava beans during off-season. Canned, dried, frozen and air dried favas for snacks are readily available. They are commonly eaten by Californians from numerous backgrounds including from Egypt, Somalia, Syria, Israel, China, Mexico, Japan and Iran. Many recipes call for dried fava beans that can be found large and small, shelled or split. Canned fava beans come with or without their protective coats. Check the label. Canned favas often come as a spread or dip style (ful mudammas,) much like refried beans but without lard.
If you like keeping staples in the freezer, favas can be found in the frozen food aisle of many international stores. Fava flour is starting become more readily available. We’ll let you know when you can find flour from our partner, Prairie Fava, in local grocery stores.