Fava beans, also known as broad beans, resemble oversized lima beans. They are sold fresh or dried. Fresh fava beans are sold in their long, plump, flattened pods and are easily shelled. The tough but edible skin can be removed. Dried beans require soaking to rehydrate them.
To sort and rinse dried fava beans:
Spread the beans in a single layer on a platter or tray. Pick out and discard any discolored and misshapen beans and impurities such as small stones and fibers. Transfer the beans to a colander or sieve. Rinse well under cold running water.
To soak and rehydrate dried fava beans:
Place the cleaned beans in a bowl of fresh cold water to cover and soak for 3-8 hours at room temperature; drain well. Or, place beans in a saucepan with water to cover, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and soak for 1 1/2 hours; drain well.
To prepare fresh fava beans:
With your fingers, pop open the bean pods along their seams and pull out the individual fava beans. Use a thumbnail to split open the tough outer skin of each bean, then peel it off with your fingertips.For other bean varieties, see adzuki, borlotti, cannellini, cranberry, flageolet, Great Northern, green, Italian green, kidney, lima, pinto, red, white (navy), and yellow wax beans and chickpeas, green lentils, and lentils.