'Maltese Ful' Fava Bean
Improvement status: Unknown
Seeds per packet: ~20
Germination tested 12/2022: 81%
Life cycle: Annual or Biennial
This fava bean came from a market in the Mediterranean island nation of Malta. Medium-sized and brown-green, this is a general-use fava bean. In Malta, fava beans are famously made into a traditional dip called "bigilla," though that dip is most often made from the smaller type of fava (known in Malta as "ful ta' Girba", after the Tunisian island of Djerba, from which Malta used to import most of its fava beans). As a seasonal delicacy, maltese people also mix fava beans like these with eggs and ricotta-like cottage cheese to make quiche-like pies called Torta tal-Irkotta. They're also used in soups, stews, risottos, and other recipes.
Fava beans are not the only delicious part of the plant: the flowers, leaves, growing tips, and young pods are also edible and scrumptious, raw or cooked.
EFN co-founder Nate Kleinman collected stock seeds in Malta and imported them with a Small Lots of Seed import permit from the USDA. This lot was grown by our friend Jason Andrzejewski of Columbus, Michigan.
RECIPE: Nate's favorite way to eat fava beans is simple: he removes the beans from the pod and then removes each beans peel; throws the peeled beans into boiling water for 5 or 10 minutes, then adds pasta; he strains it all, adds butter or olive oil, salt and sometimes pepper, and that's it. With a bit of vigorous stirring most of the fava beans disintegrate and combine with the butter or oil to produce a delicious sauce for the pasta. (If you're a real foodie and you have access to it, try grating some bottarga — cured mullet roe sacs — onto the dish as you would parmesan chees. That takes an already delicious dish and makes it pure magic.)
GROWING TIPS: Favas can be a little finicky. In hot regions (like Malta), they are grown almost exclusively as a winter crop. In cooler regions (like Michigan), they can be planted in spring and grown through the summer. In milder parts of the US they can be fall planted and harvested in the spring. Plants grow upright and often benefit from some support in the form of a trellis. If your fava plants are flowering but not setting pods, try snipping off the growing tip but leaving a number of fully developed flowers. This can encourage the plant to put energy into pod production rather than continuing vegetative growth.