Client Projects

Prairie Fava

In 2016, a small Manitoba start-up called Prairie Fava approached Prairie Research Kitchen to unlock the potential of the fava bean as a healthy food ingredient.

Hailey Jeffries founded Prairie Fava in 2015 after searching for alternative protein sources for her mother, who was undergoing cancer treatment. Fava beans grew on the family seed farm run by Hailey’s husband Cale, but the market was limited. Hailey, a self-described “entrepreneurial spirit”, soon realized fava could be used as a healthy ingredient in foods people already knew and loved.

Hailey began milling fava flour and flakes. She knew fava could enhance fibre and protein content in a wide range of recipes. Because their amino acid profiles are complimentary, fava flour can also combine with grain flours to create a complete protein source.

Processing beans is one thing, but developing fava flour into food products with broad market appeal is another, and Prairie Fava had little capacity for research and development.

Enter Prairie Research Kitchen.

Working with RRC Polytech’s culinary team enabled Hailey to take the crucial next step of conducting basic research and developing recipes that build on the fava bean’s greatest strengths, while working around the absence of gluten typically important for dough structure.

One of our first collaborations was a fava flour crouton. Fava-infused muffin and cookie recipes followed. Blind taste tests with family members delivered the good news to Hailey: everyone picked the goodies with 50 per cent fava as their favourite.

Prairie Fava has now blossomed into an award-winning company. It received the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce’s Start-Up of the Year Award in 2019 and continues to meet a rising demand for its fava-based ingredients and products.

Prairie Research Kitchen was instrumental in the company’s growth, says Hailey. “Having input from an applied research team provided me with valuable insights and direction that could only come from a place where culinary and food sciences are combined.”

Fun Facts: The fava bean, also known as the faba bean, horse bean, field bean and broad bean, is a species of vetch, a flowering plant in the pea and bean family Fabaceae.

In France, the fava bean was once part of a tradition in which the fève (dried fava) is placed in a cake called galette des rois. Whoever found the fève became king or queen of the meal – which often meant they were expected to serve the other guests. Today’s version of this tradition often involves a small metal or China trinket instead of a bean.