Broad beans are beans which may be eaten either fresh or dried as butter beans. In their fresh form they are at their best from the end of May to early July, the pods should be pale green with a satiny bloom and feel soft and tender. They are thought to be the original bean and were first grown in North Africa. The beans are encased in a tough pod with a furry lining. When very young the pods can be cooked whole but they are usually shelled. When the beans are dried they acquire a creamy colour. They are known as fava beans and as English beans in the United States.