How to Shell Broadbeans

If you’re bringing in the Broadbean harvest right now you’ll probably have a lot of shelling to do. This is the technique I use when I have a lot of beans to get through in one go.

Harvest your Broadbeans before they get too big and mealy. Take the beans out of the shell and put them into a pan.

Bring them to the boil until they go nice and fat. The aim here is not to cook them but to expand the skin.

Then drain the beans and plunge them into a bowl of cold water. The skin will contract and go wrinkly. You should be able to pick each one out and shell it by popping the yummy green bit out with finger and thumb.

The faster you can shell them – the faster you can eat them, right?

20 Comments on “How to Shell Broadbeans

  1. MTP – Thank you – you must be a mind reader.

    I have just harvested my first batch of broad beans and had no idea how to prepare them.

    Now I know :-)

  2. I’ve never shelled them, I just eat em straight out of the pod.

    I remember giving a bag of broads to a vegetarian friend of mine who had never had them before. He came back the following week moaning about how they tasted very ‘furry’, maybe they were off.

    He’d cooked and eaten them in the pod. Bloody idiot!

  3. I’ve never shelled these kind of beans because I always put young ones in my recipes.. thanks for sharing!

  4. I was about 40 when I heard that some people shell the cooked beans. I was aghast! All that fiddling about, why on earth?!

    But then I’d never bought Broad Beans, just eaten home grown ones. In there lies the clue.

    Top tip – grow the Crimson Flowered Broad Bean. Not as prolific and smaller pods, but the beans are bright green and the skin in thin – no ‘nasty grey green skin’ to remove.


  5. Once shelled, you can puree them or make them into finer soups without the skins leaving ‘bits’…but I’m rather fond of them in their shells, just picked very young. :)

  6. If they’re young I eat them whole but if they’re pretty big I find the skins a bit bitter so I do skin them. I’ll try the crimson flowered one next year. Thanks.

  7. That’s a great tip; many thanks. Mind you, I haven’t got any left – I love broad beans and have noshed the lot already. Must plant double next year…

  8. Didn’t grow them this year as last year the children declared the beans “disgusting”. Now, though, I’m thinking it may be worth giving them another go, but cooking them after harvesting. Thanks for this tip.

  9. I’ve seen some varieties that are advertised as having thinner shells but haven’t tried them yet as I eat then whole anyway.

  10. I like them with skins on, but I have a sneaky feeling that I may like them more if I shell them. Good tip.

  11. Thank you for the tip. I will be harvesting my final Broadbeans tomorrow and I suspect they will need the double shelling!

  12. My oldest neice used to pick hers out of her dinner (we’re talking about 18 years ago) and put them all on the edge of the plate – she really doesn’t like them!!! I’m thinking that some of them were far too big and would have benefited with the skins off. Did people do that 18 years ago or is it something that the ‘chefs’ of the current day have started us doing? Your’s look so delicious!

  13. A new verb is required. “Shelling” is when the pod is removed.

  14. Why on earth shell them?? First time I see someone do that. :) I pick my pods when young and use as French beans.

  15. Elderly broad beans make wonderful falafel. That way you don’t have to peel them at all!

  16. I’ve never shelled them either. If they are really old and tough I would put them in a blender and make a dip or a falafel!

  17. Hi there, just found your blog on a google search and have joined the veggie forum too. Shall have a god look around later but just wanted to say hi for now.

  18. I live in the US (where they’re called “Fava Beans”), and they seem to be much less popularly grown and eaten here. I’m interested in broadening my gardening horizons now – no pun intended! =) Thanks!

  19. I always just eat mine “straight” too … though they can be a bit bitter, I really like bitter flavours (I’m a big Campari fan): particularly when paired with vast quantities of melted butter (the beans that is – Campari is not improved by the addition of melted butter)! Hmmm… I may be slightly missing the healthiness vibe here.