Broad (or fava) beans sit inside long, slender green pods surrounded by a downy white fur. Only very young, slender pods of no more than 7cm (3in) can be eaten; it’s more usual to shell the mealy beans and discard the pods.
Fresh beans are their best from June to September; frozen beans are available all year round.
Slender pods, as they will contain young tender beans. Discard any split pods.
Best eaten within 4 days of purchase, although they will store for up to a week in the fridge, ideally wrapped in newspaper. To freeze, blanch in boiling water for 2 minutes then plunge into cold water, drain well and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Slit broad bean pods with your thumb and pop out the beans. Cook beans in a pan of unsalted boiling water for 4 minutes, drain and serve with butter. Older beans may need a little longer and, if liked, can be double-podded before serving. Don’t add salt to the cooking water, as this will toughen the skins. Add cooked broad beans to salad recipes, serve with mint and feta cheese or toss with new potatoes.