Baked beans is a dish containing beans, sometimes baked but,
despite the name, usually stewed, in a sauce. Most
commercial canned baked beans are made from haricot beans,
also known as navy beans � a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris �
in a sauce. In the United Kingdom, tomato sauce is most
In the United States, Boston baked beans use a sauce made
from pork and molasses, and are so popular the city has been
nicknamed "Beantown." Maine and Quebec-style beans often use
maple syrup. They are used as a convenience food when
heated, or eaten as a snack, straight from the can.
The beans used in baked beans
are all native to North America and were introduced to Italy
in 1528 and to France by 1547. Beans, squash and maize were
grown together by Native Americans using the Three Sisters
method of farming.
According to alternative traditions, sailors brought
cassoulet from the south of France, or the regional bean
stew recipes from northern France and the Channel Islands.
Most probably, a number of regional bean recipes coalesced
and cross-fertilized in North America and ultimately gave
rise to the baked bean culinary tradition familiar today.
While many recipes today are stewed, traditionally beans
were baked in a ceramic or cast-iron bean pot. Bean hole
cooking as practiced in Maine's logging camps used
stone-lined fire pits where the bean pots would be buried to
cook overnight or longer.
Canned beans, often with pork, were among the first
convenience foods. Canned salt pork and beans with stewed
tomatoes was supplied to the US Army during the American
Civil War in the 1860s. The U.S. Food and Drug
Administration stated in 1996 that It has for years been
recognized by consumers generally that the designation
'beans with pork,' or 'pork and beans' is the common or
usual name for an article of commerce that contains very
little pork. This is typically a piece of salt pork to add
fat to the dish.
In the United States, Bush's, B&M, and
Allen's are well-known producers of baked beans. B&M
concentrates almost exclusively on Boston-style baked beans,
while Bush's produces several flavours; both use cured bacon
to improve the flavors of their products. Most of these
products are in a very sweet sauce with little tang,
compared with the tanginess of home-made baked beans.
Heinz also sells baked beans in the US, but there are
substantial differences between the Heinz baked beans sold
in the UK and the nearest equivalent American product (Heinz
Premium Vegetarian Beans). The American product
contains brown sugar where the British beans do not, and the
US product contains 14g of sugar per tin compared to 7g for
the British version (equating to 140 vs 90 calories).
The US beans have a mushier texture and are darker in colour
than their UK counterpart. For several years, the UK Heinz
Baked Beans have been available in the US, either in
different sized cans from those sold in the UK or in a 385
gram can (the same can as the 415 gram can in the UK) with
an "export" label with American English spelling and the
word "baked" dropped from the title on the label. These are
sold in many US specialty stores.
In New England baked beans are sweetened, either with maple
syrup (Northern New England), or with molasses (Boston), and
are traditionally cooked with salt pork in a beanpot in a
brick oven for a full day.
In southern states along the eastern seaboard of the US, the
beans become tangier usually due to the addition of yellow
mustard. Ground beef also becomes common alongside bacon in
these beans. They take on a flavor similar to Cowboy Beans,
a similar popular dish.
Traditional cuisines of many
regions claim such recipes as typical specialities, for
- In Poland, with the addition of bacon and/or sausage
these are known as Breton Beans (fasolka po bretońsku).
- Jersey bean crock
- Boston baked beans
- Pork and beans, which despite the name often contain
very little pork
- Guernsey Bean Jar
- Spanish Fabada
- French Cassoulet
- New England baked beans
- Quebec-style baked beans are often prepared with
- Bean-hole beans, traditionally from Northern New
England and Quebec, cooked in a covered fire pit in the
ground for up to two days
- British cuisine claims beans on toast as a teatime
favourite, the combination of cereal and legume forming
an inexpensive complete protein; compare rice and beans.
Variations of "Beans on Toast Deluxe" can include extras
as such as egg, grated cheese, marmite, tuna etc, and
baked beans sometimes form part of a full English
- Beans cooked in barbecue sauce (or a similarly
flavoured sauce) are a traditional side-dish in an
- "Franks & beans", a recipe wherein hot dogs are cut
up and cooked in the same sauce as the baked beans.
- In Mexico and Latin America baked beans are also
popular: black beans (frijoles negros) and pinto beans
(frijoles pintos) are the most common.
- In the Balkans, they are known as Prebranac.
Many unusual dishes are made with baked beans including the
baked bean sandwich. These are slices of bread topped with
beans and other additions, such as melted cheese.
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