How to Shell Fava Beans

Fava beans
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Start With Fresh, Clean Pods

Fava beans
Molly Watson

When you buy fava beans, look for smooth, firm, bright green pods with freshly cut ends and as little browning as possible. Wondering how many fava beans to buy? Choose about 1 pound of fava beans for every scant 1 cup of shelled beans you want at the end.

Most recipes call for shelled fava beans, and that usually means double-shelled. Fava beans need to be removed from their pods, blanched, and then removed from their individual shells to release the fully tender, delicately flavored fava beans deep inside. This guide walks you through the steps so you can get through this task as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Snap off End of Fava Pod

Snapped fava bean
Molly Watson

Snap off the stem end of the fava pod. This works best if you pull it towards the inside of the curve of the bean, towards the thicker seam.

String Fava Pod

Removing the string from fava beans
Molly Watson

Pull down and remove the "string" that runs along the inner curve of the fava pod.

Remove Beans From Pod

Removing fava beans from pod
Molly Watson

Open the pods and use your thumb to run down the inside of the pod, "popping" the beans out along the way to remove them from the pod. Repeat steps 2 through 4 with all of the remaining pods.

Blanch Fava Beans

Blanching fava beans
Molly Watson

Blanching means giving a quick dunk in boiling water. To blanch shelled fava beans bring a large pot of water (about 2 quarts) to a boil. Add enough salt (about 1 tablespoon) so the water tastes salty (this will help the beans stay green).

Add the fava beans and cook 1 minute.

Drain and Cool the Blanched Favas

Cooling blanched fava beans
Molly Watson

Drain the blanched fava beans.

Cool them off by either rinsing them with cold running water or plunging them into a large bowl of ice water. Let sit until completely cool, 3 to 5 minutes. This stops the cooking from the blanching and makes them easier to peel.

Shell Fava Beans Again

Shelling individual fava beans
Molly Watson

Yes, shell them again. This is what makes fava beans so labor-intensive. Make as speedy work of this as possible by using your thumbnail to break through the shell at the dimpled point at the inside curve of the bean.

Pop the Cap off the Fava Bean

Opening the "cap" on fava beans
Molly Watson

Continue with the second shelling by pulling up to remove the "cap" at the top of the bean.

Push Fava Beans out of Shell

Peeling individual fava beans
Molly Watson

Having removed the top of the shell, you can now simply squeeze the other end of the shell to pop out the fava bean. Repeat steps 7 through 9 with the remaining blanched fava beans.

Fully Shelled Fava Beans

Peeled fava beans
Molly Watson

Fully shelled fava beans are bright, emerald green and have an amazingly tender texture. Once all the beans are shelled you can make all sorts of goodies. A few favorites include adding them to a spring vegetable risotto, mashing them onto crostini with a drizzle of olive oil or simply sautéeing them.

Does this process all just seem too laborious? No worries. This recipe for braised fava beans cooks the beans in their pods, rendering the entire thing edible.