One Of Britain's Oldest Crops Is Making A Comeback - And Now It's Organic Too
Hodmedod is launching the first British-grown organic split fava beans – the latest step in the revival of a healthy, versatile and delicious ingredient that's good for bees, the environment and the UK’s farmers.
Fava beans have been grown in Britain since the Iron Age and were once a major part of the British diet as a year-round source of protein. However, they fell out of fashion with rising consumption of meat and dairy products.
One UK company is working to reintroduce the bean after seeing it exported to countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Hodmedod, based in Norfolk, was founded after a trial project to see if people in Norwich would like to eat this locally produced source of vegetable protein – they did! The business launched an initial range of British pulses in early 2013 and is working with growers to source and trial different varieties of beans and other crops.
Fava beans are an important UK crop and good for farming, adding fertility to the soil and helping arable rotations. Good organic fava beans have been harder to find but Hodmedod is now working with two organic farmers producing top quality beans.
Founder Nick Saltmarsh is on a mission to make the fava bean become a staple food once more:
“Fava beans are one of Britain's oldest crops but we've almost completely forgotten about them in recent centuries. Once you've tried them there's no looking back as they're so easy to use in lots of delicious dishes from the Mediterranean and Middle East, as well as traditional British recipes. Bees and farmers like them too.”
Split fava beans make a perfect cooking ingredient for healthy, delicious meals as they:
Are easy to cook - cooking in just 20 to 40 minutes with no soaking required
Are versatile – cooked gently the beans are delicious whole in a chilli or curry; after longer or more vigorous cooking they become very soft and are great for thickening soups or stews or as dip or dhal
Feature in many traditional cuisines – mashed with potatoes and wild greens in Puglia, deep-fried as snack habas fritas in Spain, cooked as a simple puree in Cyprus, used for Egyptian-style falafel or ta'amia…
Are highly nutritious – naturally high in protein and dietary fibre but low in fat
Have a low glycaemic index - their carbohydrates are slowly digested; the glycaemic index of pulses is among the lowest in foods containing carbohydrates
Are rich in flavanols - with concentrations comparable with black grapes and dark chocolate
Provide a good source of lutein – comparable with green vegetables including broccoli and spinach
Are a perfect store cupboard essential – they store well for over a year
Fava beans benefit bees by providing nectar and pollen at a time when they're in short supply and colonies risk starvation. Flowering during what beekeepers call the ‘June gap’, they form a crucial bridge between spring-flowering plants and the floral abundance of summer. Through pollination, bees, especially bumblebees, play an essential role in ensuring there are plenty of beans at harvest time.
Hodmedod's organic split Fava beans will be available to buy from 28/10/2103 at www.hodmedods.co.uk and in selected wholefood shops.