Harvest broad beans as soon as the pods have swelled for one of the real home-grown treats of early summer in the veg garden. If you sowed your broad beans in autumn (look out for super-hardy varieties like Aquadulce Claudia on our seed racks which can overwinter as sturdy seedlings) they should be producing plenty of pods by now; if you sowed summer varieties like Masterpiece Green Longpod in spring, you may have to wait another week or so.
Pick tiny pods to cook and eat whole while they’re young and tender, or wait until the beans develop. You’ll be able to see the outlines of the beans inside; if you feel the pods gently you can judge how large they’re getting.
Broad beans are at their best when the scar attaching the bean to the pot is still white or green. Left too long this scar turns brown and the skins thicken to become less pleasant to eat. If you do miss a few pods and they become over mature, just skin the beans before cooking and they’re still really tasty.
Eat your broad beans fresh in salads, or steam gently and serve with a little fresh herbs – summer savory tastes particularly good. Broad beans freeze well too.