Broad beans

Broad bean flowers are beautiful and useful. They are one of the favourite food sources for bumble and solitary bees – those big noisy bees that appear early in the year – and we all know by now (don’t we?) that promoting the happy life of bees is good for our crops.

The Romans also loved broad beans (yes, if you’re visiting from the USA, I do mean fava beans, as promoted by Hannibal Lecter as the food of choice for eating with human flesh) and early Christians from that city ate dried broad beans with herbs on the Day of the Dead in November – while my Celtic ancestors apparently reserved the beans for funeral meals which might be where we get the term beanfeast from.

Heigh ho – isn’t history interesting? And pretty as the flowers are, I’m always happier to see the pods forming! It’s depressing to note that this time last year I was harvesting broad beans every third day, while this year I don’t yet have enough even for a single meal, not even if I indulged in the sinful Italian habit of picking them while they are still the size of peas! So I shall go to the plot today and harvest some broad bean tops, picking out the top leaves to encourage the still worrying small plants to bush out. We steam the tops and eat them with pork dishes usually, but today I shall go for steamed broad bean tops in mustard dressing to accompany a rather boring looking cottage pie that I’ve just found languishing in the freezer.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Friday, May 21, 2010


Blogger Berridon Farm said...

yes! this time last year I was eating peas and broadbeans, this year just small plants with not even a flower yet. Glad it's not just me who is behind.

Enjoy your cottage pie.

May 21, 2010 at 4:25 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Just to depress us all even more, by 28 May last year, I was picking strawberries by the trugfull - no chance of that this year!

May 24, 2010 at 7:54 AM  
Anonymous said...

I didn't know you could eat the greens off the broad bean plant...or that it was beneficial to the plant if you topped glad I found this out...this is my first year of growing them and with the setback of mine all being burnt in the fire I had to buy plants from town so I have flowers but thats all so far.....glad i found out these interesting tidbits.

May 26, 2010 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Digital Flower Pictures said...

Thanks for the American translation. Now I know what you are speaking of.

May 27, 2010 at 3:54 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Tania, if you get to the top of the greens before the blackfly do, they make a really tasty early spring dish. Digital Flower Pictures - I know, it's confusing when our cultures are divided by plant names; it took me quite a while to work out garbanzos (we call them chick peas), and now I'm trying to grow them!

May 28, 2010 at 3:04 AM  

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