Home made baked beans are really easy to make and taste delicious. Make them from store cupboard ingredients for a cheap dish.
Baked beans are one of those staples that I always have tins of in my cupboard. They are so versatile and can be used in many meals. They accompany a full English breakfast, can be used in a quick snack of beans on toast and are great as a side serving with chips. I have even been known to make baked bean lasagne in my student days, which is a filling and comforting meal.
I have great memories of my mum serving me fish fingers, baked beans and crisps when we came home from school. We were allowed to eat them in front of the television, a rare treat as we normally had to sit at the table for dinner. There was little choice of television for children in those days so we made the most of it.
Tins of baked beans and sausages were also packed in my rucksack when we did our camping trip for the Duke of Edinburgh award. We hiked along the Antrim coast, navigating with map and compass. At night we stopped in a tent and heated up tins of baked beans and sausages in metal pans on a little stove. We thought we were brilliant to have cooked a meal ourselves. Whilst I usually buy tins of beans I often wondered if it would be easy enough to make them. This weekend I gave it a try and the home made baked beans were lovely.
The advantage of making your own baked beans is you know exactly what is going in them. These days many foods have lots of hidden sugar and preservatives. When I was at my son’s school the other day they had done a display showing different foods with the amount of sugar in them. The sugar was weighed out in plastic bags so you could see the amount in each food. It was amazing how much extra sugar is added to food without us realising. Making baked beans from scratch is actually really easy. I used garlic and onions chopped up and fried, added tomato sauce and beans and just simmered for a while. The result was baked beans that were much richer than those you get from tins.
I used cannelini beans and haricot beans but you can chose any beans you fancy. Butter beans would work well. Once you have perfected the basic recipe you can easily mix it up by using different varieties of beans or flavouring the sauce differently. The basic recipe could be easily adapted to make barbecue baked beans for example, perfect for a barbecue party. You could also thrown in herbs like basil to make a more distinctive flavour. The beans will also freeze well so why not cook twice as much and freeze some for whenever you are in need of baked beans.
If you have time you can use dried beans which involves soaking the beans overnight and then boiling them until they are just tender. I used tinned beans. These are already cooked to perfection and just need the addition of the sauce to make them perfect. I have no idea if using dried beans makes them taste any nicer, if you have the time and inclination to try I would love to know. Black pepper makes the perfect seasoning if you have some and for extra indulgence melt a knob of butter into the beans before you serve them.
Have you ever made your own baked beans?