You can pick broadbeans to eat fresh for a while, but if you were keen and grew quite a few, then at some point they will all come on in a rush and then it’s time to get them into the freezer.
🌿 Nothing, then all at once
It will seem like forever to get your first beans of a size to eat. I read that when they are finger size you can boil and eat the whole pod. Tried it. 1 star. When they are young though, you can pod and eat them unpeeled, like in the photo of them light green in the bowl. By young, I mean the size of a marble. Pretty soon, they will all develop, especially in between plants where you might miss them, and it can feel like overnight you are overun with massive bulging pods that are big enough to beat a small neighbour with. [Don’t actually do that 😅😆]
🌿 Snap and trench
Dang – forgot to get a photo of the first step – will fix that later. We break the bean stalks off at the base (Don’t pull the root out, as it has heaps of Nitrogen fixing nodules on it that the next veg will love). Snip off the bulging beans into a box, and put the whole stalk (complete with the few underdeveloped pods you couldn’t be bothered removing) into a prepared trenching hole in that or another bed. All that organic goodness and nitrogen rich fibre MUST go straight back in whilst still green. If you compost, be sure to cover it, as nutrients are lost into the air. If you have a mulching machine, then mulch first but get into the trench without delay.
🌿 Pod and blanch
A whole box of beany goodness will keep okay for a few days, but once you pod them, you must eat or freeze them, as they don’t last outside their fuzzy jackets. The empty pods are also great trench material so the whole box of podscrap will go straight into a trench hole, soil on top and leafy green seeds sown over them to suck up the goodness. Next, we blanch them to be sure they last ages in the freezer without much loss of taste or condition.
BLANCHING to freeze: Don’t be too fussy – near enough is fine…
- Boil some water on the stove and put a bowl of cold water in the sink ready.
- Drop beans into the boiling water, a breakfast-bowlful at a time, for 2 minutes, no more. You aren’t cooking, just scalding them into deactivating the enzymes that spoil their flavour in the freezer over time.
- After 2 minutes, scoop them out and transfer into cold water to stop them from cooking. That will heat the water a little so adding some icecubes afterwardes will bring temp down again without wasting water. Don’t fuss though 😉 Continue a bowl at a time til all done.
🌿 Peeling the pods
🍵 FOLKS WHO SAY THEY DON’T LIKE BROADBEANS HAVEN’T TRIED THEM WITHOUT THEIR BITTER SKINS.
The next step will fix that. If eating right away, you can just microwave a bowl of beans, then slip the loosened skins off before eating. Oh my, so yummy in risotto, creamy pasta, or a salad. Hot with butter, pepper and toasted almonds, or mashed on top of steak. Oh Stop it!
Here I am, watching Netflix, glass of wine just out of camera view, peeling beans on Sunday afternoon 😊 and filling small containers that I know hold just enough for one meal each. The skins will be trenched or frozen to add to stock later. I got 12 meals worth. That is once a week over 3 months. Perfect. To peel, nip smaller end with your nail and squeeze the fatter end – POP!
At first it may seem a lot of work, but in practice it is no more effort than freezing corn or peeling onions, all that green organic mass in the trenching is miraculous, and the broadbean germs are seriously tasty, not to mention expensive in shops and restaurants!
Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿