I am trying to reverse engineer a recipe for a fava bean stew from the list of ingredients on a ready-to-eat can. The can, as well as every other (middle eastern) instance of fava beans I've had, was citrus zesty. The can lists "citric acid" but I intend to put lime juice.

I like many of my other stews and soups citrusy but I normally add lime juice or vinegar (sometimes even sumac will do) as a condiment before eating, not while cooking. I wonder if there are any advantages to adding it while cooking. Such as, for example, could it help tenderize the favas, in addition to adding citrus flavor? Is it best to add citrus, while cooking, right after cooking, or as a condiment before eating?

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    The commonly held wisdom is that cooking beans in an acidic liquid will toughen the skin of the beans. I don't know whether this is also true of fava beans.
    – Juhasz
    Commented Oct 23, 2020 at 20:32

2 Answers 2


When citrus juice is added to a soup or sauce, it's usually added at the last minute, after cooking. The reason is that when citrus juice is cooked, it looses some of its flavor.

As Juhasz mentioned, dried beans should not be cooked with acid. Acid will make them take a lot longer to cook. It may also make the skins tough and unpleasant to eat. (Unless you removed the skins, as is sometimes done with fava beans.)

You could possibly use that to your advantage if your fava beans are fully cooked before the rest of the stew is done cooking. Adding an acid might stop the beans from getting too soft while the rest of the stew cooks. (Emphasis on "might;" I'm only guessing about this. All the references I've seen are focused on the goal of getting the beans fully cooked, not on stopping them from cooking too much.)


Don't add any citrus or vinegar until the fava beans are fully cooked. If you do add some after that point, expect that the citrus juice will lose some flavor the longer you cook it. Add additional lime juice immediately before serving if you want that bright, fresh taste of lime juice.


Im assuming that you're trying to recreate fool, typically eaten for breakfast.

Lemon is added by people when served for the citrus flavor.

The other use case will be to prevent oxidation on the surface of the beans.

When I cook fava beans at home I usually add some lemon juice as a final step after the beans are fully cooked and I mash them or am about to store them whole, but not enough to actually notice the flavor. In my experience, there isn't much difference for the oxidation effect with the amount of lime juice I use. The beans inevitably oxidize.

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