Food: Tomato-coated nuggets of gold

Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online
Baked beans may conjure up various words beginning with "F" but, until now, fresh hasn't been one of them.

The New Covent Garden Soup Company, the people who have saved many of us from otherwise disastrous dinner parties, plan to do for beans what they have done for carrot and coriander.

Fresh Baked Beans is one of a new range of four cartons of fresh beans that will be fighting for space in the supermarket chill cabinets from next month.

According to Kate Kime from the company that wants to make tin-openers a thing of the past, their beans are better because "they're not so sweet or salty, they have a fresh tomato sauce and a more natural taste".

The baked bean market, forecast at a staggering pounds 196m in 1997, is worth getting a bite of. The UK is the biggest baked bean-eating country in the world with each person consuming an average of 20 cans each per year.

It all started back in 1875 in Boston, Massachusetts when a company called Burnham and Morrill canned beans in tomato sauce to feed the men in their fishing fleets. The recipe was originally developed to fortify the Puritan settlers against the harsh winters of New England.

The idea was taken up by HJ Heinz which started importing baked beans into the UK at the turn of the century before setting up its own factories here in the 1920s.

Now Heinz's "Bean Centre" in Wigan gets through 1,000 tons of dry haricot beans per week.

Baked Bean Facts

Up until the Second World War, baked beans contained small pieces of pork. During the war, the pork was taken out because of meat rationing and was never replaced, to the delight of vegetarian baked bean lovers everywhere.

Heinz has started shipping baked beans to Russia and predicts that Russia could easily become one of the top five bean eating countries within the next year or two.

When baked beans first came into the UK, they were a luxury item. They sold at Fortnum and Mason for the equivalent of pounds 1.50 (9d).

Last year, baked beans became the focus of a price war between supermarkets. At the height of the war, some supermarkets were selling a tin of baked beans for just 3p. One retailer was even paying customers to take them away.

Fresh Baked Beans : The Verdict

Made from bigger beans than the tinned variety, the sauce has bits of tomato and broken pieces of bean floating in it - and the result is as good as homemade. Think of these as bearing no relation to the ones in a tin and you'll enjoy them more.