The Fava Bean (Vicia faba)

Flowering fields of the Fava Bean (Broad Bean, Vicia faba) are widespread in Mallorca at this very moment. I rather think of the pale purple colour of the fava flower almost as equally exquisite as the more popular almond blossom. I would encourage you to have a stroll in the Mallorcan countryside anytime soon, almost anywhere on the island where some agriculture is still being maintained, to see the delicate Vicia faba flower for yourself. You could then aim to come back to the same field in, let’s say, six to eight weeks time to try one of the young and tender beans fresh off their pod. The young leaves of the plant can also be eaten either raw or cooked like spinach but I would not want to encourage you to pilfer from a field that is not your own.

The Fava Bean is popular in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines. They are eaten raw when very young, cooked in soups and many other dishes, and made into fava brittle (like peanut brittle) as a sweet substitute. I have seen the fresh young beans in some markets in Egypt and Tunisia when in season, but not here in Mallorca. Here, fava beans are usually sold in their dry condition.

The feeding value of the Fava Bean is high, and is considered in some areas to be superior to field peas or other legumes. The Vicia faba bean is rich in protein and provides moderate amounts of iron and vitamins B1 and B2.

As a folk medicine, Vicia faba can be used as diuretic, expectorant, or tonic. It is also said, that the bean helps dissolve stones in the bladder and kidney. Fava Beans possibly have a medicinal benefit in the treatment of Parkinson’s Disease, but I do not want to jump the gun here. Seek professional advice from better qualified sources.

~ by plantarium on February 16, 2010.

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