Broad beans have the shortest season of all beans. Though immature beans are often available in late winter, they are best avoided until the season develops fully. Broad beans do not have the best reputation, one that has simply come from people having been served over-cooked beans. Broad beans are best when still small, sweet and only just cooked. All too often growers provide large broad beans, because you get fewer to the kilogram. These broad beads are likely to be woody and bitter.
When purchasing broad beans choose young pods with a vibrant colour and a similar size to allow uniform cooking. Discard beans with brown patches, or ones that are floppy and limp. If in doubt, ask to open a pod and look at the beans inside.
Store in the crisper section of the refrigerator for a day or two. Alternatively pod beans, blanch in boiling water and freeze in plastic bags for later use.
If you have very young broad beans, once podded they can be boiled briefly and enjoyed as they are. For most broad beans we recommend double podding. This means taking the podded beans, cooking them briefly in boiling water and refreshing under cold water. Then remove the pale green skins from the beans. This is easily done by inserting a small knife or thumbnail into the skin and creating a slit. Then push the vivid green bean halves from their skins. Discard the pale green skins. This is double the work, but it is also double the flavour. We recommend you take advantage of the short season and enjoy broad beans to the full.
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Fish: coral trout, spanner crab, scallops, flathead, flounder, ocean trout, King George whiting, redfish, prawns
Cheese: goat’s milk cheeses, white rind cheeses
Content provided by Allan Campion and Michele Curtis www.campionandcurtis.com.