When intended for consumption, fava beans are planted in February and March to mature through the summer, with their peak coming in July. The beans grow on bushy plants with tapering leaves, yielding anywhere from 25 to 50 pods per plant. The pods resemble pea pods in shape, although they are much larger and lined with a pillowy white material that protects the seeds inside.
Fava beans are also used as a cover crop to protect delicate soil, because they grow quickly and produce a great deal of lush foliage. In addition, like most legumes, fava beans are nitrogen fixers, and they replenish the soil with this vital nutrient. Many farmers plant fava beans and plow them back into the field after the growth has peaked for mulch.
Fava beans should be shelled and peeled before eating. The outer peel on the beans, while technically edible, is very woody in texture and detracts from the buttery feel of the inner bean. In addition, fava beans should be cooked before serving because of favism, a rare reaction to fava beans found among people of Mediterranean descent. Little risk has been found from eating cooked beans, but some diners may have an allergic reaction to raw or unpeeled favas.
Favas shelled but unpeeled~
Favas peeled. Significantly less mass~
Feeling Peachy!?! Unlike some other fruits, peaches don't ripen once picked, so it's important to choose one that is soft to the touch and blemish-free. Taste of Italia, August 2010, pg. 22.