Monday, 10 August 2009

broad beans, flowers

I harvested my first broad bean yesterday. Not a very exciting piece of news, I hear you say, but the way I ate it was - at least for me!

My broad bean plants grow to about 3 feet in height. They are sturdy, and produce lovely white flowers with a black throat, as you can see in the photo.

If I'm lucky, and they are pollinated, the flowers blacken and melt away, leaving a tiny green bud - the new pod. This one, by my thumb, is quite new, but the flower has just about been washed away. At this stage is is very firm, but could easily be dislodged, so I'm careful not to knock them.

After a couple of weeks, the pod has increased its size to the length of my thumb, and is developing a rounded wavy outline, where the beans themselves are swelling within the protective outer shell. You can see a few of them on this plant.

I've always taken the full, swollen green pod, when you can feel the outlines of the rounded beans through the pod, peeled back the soft, furry lined shell, and popped the beans off their yellow fixers, boiled and eated them.

However, the other day I read an article which suggested that broad beans could be eaten whole, like mangetout, pod and beans. This seemed a little strange to me, the insides of the pods are delightfully soft and furry, as you'll probably know from when you've podded the ones you've bought from the market. I couldn't imagine how they would feel in the mouth!

So, yesterday, I picked one pod. Yes, I know, it was wimpish, but I was really, really not convinced I would like it. I boiled it along with some mangetout for a few minutes, and bravely took a bite.

I didn't experience the shock sensation I was expecting with regard to texture, but neither was I blown away with excitement. It was a pretty neutral experience. There wasn't the depth of flavour that you get with the actual beans, and since the flavour of broad beans is what I love, I shall stick to my usual method of eating them.

Have any of you eaten them like this? what did you think? do you agree with me that the flavour is less pronounced?

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