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Broad beans are widely grown along Yangtze River valley and are mild in nature. Ancient writings make reference to the use of this bean as food by the Chinese more than 5000 years ago. One of the largest producers of broad beans is China . They are also called "silkworm beans" in Chinese because the pods of broad beans resemble a silkworm. There are smaller and bigger breed. The bigger ones are always better in quality.
Broad beans are starchy and have a rather strong flavor. Fresh young beans can be eaten raw without their thick outer skin. Eating broad beans frequently can help to lower blood pressure. To cure sores and abscess in the early stage, crush broad beans into paste and apply on the affected area. Applying ground dry broad beans into powder on the face after cleansing can help to smoothen the skin. Fresh or dried broad beans can be cooked with or without their skin, depending on one's appreciation of their bitter taste. To remove the skin, plunge the beans in boiling water for a few minutes, drain and rinse under cold water.
The skin also comes off easily if the beans are soaked for 12 to 24 hours, with the water being changed frequently. Besides used in cooking, broad beans are also deep fried to make a crunchy snack. Deep fried broad beans in shells are also called "orchid beans" which make a perfect snack to go with alcohol. Braised pork with mature broad beans is a great dish to go with rice.