beans: The story
beans have become a beloved dish in many countries, including
the United States and the United Kingdom, but their origins
can be traced back to ancient civilisations. This article
will explore the history of baked beans, from their ancient
roots to their modern day popularity.
Beans are one of the oldest cultivated crops in the world,
and they have been used for thousands of years as a staple
food source. Archaeological evidence shows that beans were
first cultivated in Peru around 5,000 BC, and they quickly
spread throughout South and Central America. Native American
tribes in what is now the United States were also growing
beans for food by the time of the arrival of European settlers.
In ancient Rome, beans were considered a food of the poor,
and they were often cooked with pork fat or other fatty
meats to make them more palatable. It is believed that the
dish "fabada asturiana," a Spanish stew made with
white beans, chorizo sausage and other meats, is a descendant
of these ancient Roman bean dishes.
Beans were a staple food in colonial America, and they
were often cooked with pork to create a hearty, nutritious
meal. Baked beans, in particular, became popular in New
England during the Seventeenth century. The Puritans, who
were among the first European settlers in the region, brought
with them a tradition of baking beans on Saturday night,
so they would have a ready-made meal for Sunday.
Baked beans were made by slow-cooking dried beans in a
clay pot with molasses, salt pork and other ingredients.
The resulting dish was sweet, savoury and filling, and it
quickly became a popular dish throughout the region. Baked
beans were also a staple food for soldiers during the American
Revolution, as they were easy to prepare and could be made
in large quantities.
The invention of canning in the early Nineteenth century
revolutionised the food industry, and it also had a significant
impact on the popularity of baked beans. In 1867, the first
commercial canning factory in the United States was opened
in Massachusetts, and one of its primary products was baked
Canned baked beans quickly became a popular food for working-class
families, as they were convenient, nutritious and inexpensive.
By the turn of the Twentieth century, baked beans had become
a standard item in many American pantries, and they were
often served as a side dish with ham or other pork products.
Modern-Day Baked Beans
Today, baked beans are enjoyed in many parts of the world,
and there are countless variations of the dish. In the United
States, Boston-style baked beans, which are made with navy
beans, molasses and salt pork, are still a popular dish,
especially in New England.
In the United Kingdom, baked beans are typically served
on toast for breakfast, and they are a staple food for students
and others on a tight budget. British baked beans are made
with haricot beans, tomato sauce, and a sweetened sauce
made from sugar, molasses, and spices.
Baked beans have a long and fascinating history, and they
have evolved over time to become a beloved dish in many cultures.
From their ancient roots in Peru to their modern-day popularity
in the United States and United Kingdom, baked beans have
played a significant role in the diets and traditions of people
around the world.
"Bean-Feast" by John Greenleaf
"The Bean-Feast" is a poem written by John Greenleaf
Whittier, an American poet and abolitionist, and was first
published in 1858. "The Bean-Feast" is a lighthearted
poem that celebrates the tradition of the bean-feast, a communal
meal where a dish made from beans is the main course.
A festal day, a warm summer day,
A scent of hay and thyme;
The orchards and the meadows gay,
The breezes balmy chime.
Heres to the beans, with a hiss and a roar,
And a fragrance that fills the house;
Heres to the beers, like a foamy white shore,
And the jolly and bonny old spouse.
Heres to the table, with its snowy spread,
And the viands that we relish so well;
Heres to the cup, with its frothing head,
And the good health that it is sure to tell.
Heres to the friends, who are gathered to share
The pleasures of this bean-feast day;
Heres to the flag, with its stars so fair,
And the country for which it waves so gay.
Heres to the past, with its memories bright,
And the future, as fair and free;
Heres to our homes, with their love-light,
And the hopes that are built upon thee!
John Greenleaf Whittier
A classic baked bean recipe
2 cans of haricot beans (drained and rinsed)
1 onion (finely chopped)
1 garlic clove (crushed)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp English mustard
2 tbsp black treacle
1 tsp smoked paprika
Salt and pepper to taste
your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.
some oil in a pan and sauté the onion and garlic
until softened and fragrant.
the chopped tomatoes, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce,
English mustard, black treacle and smoked paprika. Stir
well and let it cook for 5 minutes.
the haricot beans to the pan and stir until they are coated
with the sauce.
the mixture into an ovenproof dish and bake for 30 - 40
minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and the beans
are hot and bubbly.
the baked beans hot with some crusty bread, sausages or
Enjoy your classic baked beans!
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