What is the difference between lima and fava beans and are they interchangeable?
Allison B., Sunnyvale, CA Fava beans are tan, flat beans which resemble lima beans. However the favas have a very strong flavor, quite bitter at times. Their skins are very tough and must be removed by blanching before you cook them. Favas are popular in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean recipes. They are usually sold dried and can, sometimes, be purchased in cans in stores which specialize in a Middle Eastern clientele. They are sold fresh in specialty produce stores, but take a lot of work to get to the fresh beans. Lima beans come in 2 varieties; the Fordhook and the baby lima. The Fordhook is meatier and fatter than the baby limas with has a bolder flavor. Fresh limas can be found sometimes in June, July and August. They should be shelled just before using. Dried limas are available year round as are frozen ones. You can substitute dried limas for dried fava beans but the don’t have the characteristic unique flavor of the fava beans.