Dr Fry Guide #1 Baked Beans

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Baked beans are widely regarded as one of the essential components of a traditional fryup. In the UK market baked beans are usually haricot beans stewed in a sugary seasoned tomato sauce and canned to preserve. There are many different brands available so which one is the best?

Cheap beans tend to contain more water and sugar than their premium counterparts and with few exceptions should be avoided. The big players in the premium market are Heinz and Branston with large supermarket non-‘value’ own brands also in the running. Heinz enjoys brand leadership, not necessarily because they are the tastiest, more so due to consumer deference, generational brand loyalty and snobbery/embourgeoisement.

In 2010, the ‘Which’ consumer organisation nailed manufacturer’s balls to the floor with their excellent research, blind testing 12 varieties of beans on 120 members of the public of all ages and backgrounds. the full report can be accessed here.  Headline results were that in quite a close race, Branston came out top with Asda and Morrisons apparently filling the podium whilst the mighty Heinz took an unexpectedly lowly 4th place.

Dr Fry had a peek behind the headlines and discovered that Aldi’s ‘Corale’ baked beans actually finished joint 2nd, but their results were removed due to a ‘formulation change’ by Aldi shortly after the research was conducted.

In the opinion of Dr Fry, the latest iteration of Aldi’s Corale are up there with Branston and represent excellent value.

Baked beans enjoy some health benefits providing a good kick of fibre and protein and are currently on the 5-A Day list of fruit and veg for an 80g portion, despite an average can using up a whopping sixth of your RDA for sugar and salt.

Cook beans gently on the hob without boiling them. Reducing them slightly intensifies the flavour of the sauce and reduces the portion’s viscosity which negates any necessity for a ‘bean barrier’. Consider the balance of the fryup when selecting a portion size and arrange them in a ‘smaeshthetically’ pleasing way without swamping any other ingredients. Some fryup fans baulk at the prospect of beans touching eggs, they are usually the same wombles who construct barriers out of sauages.

(Making your own beans is another option which will be explored in a later post and there are ultra-premium brands of beans e.g. Fortnum & Masons fresh baked beans @ £4 a pop which is just silly)

Dr Fry welcomes YOUR view on beans in the comments section of this article.

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