British Baked Beans
British Baked Beans are just like store bought but better, because they are homemade and homemade is always best. Navy, great northern (or haricot) beans are cooked with vegetables and flavorings in tomato sauce for a taste of a British classic.
Baked beans are probably one of the most common (if not the) canned items to buy in England. They are vegetarian and an easy, saucy side for any dish from fish and chips, sausage rolls, beans on toast (the perfect budget meal) and even breakfast.
Dried beans are best
Everyone loves good baked beans, they really go with just about anything and good homemade baked beans start with dried beans, not canned. Dried beans just have better texture. If you used canned for this recipe they would be mush by the end of the recipe.
Why are my beans hard and wont cook?
This is the most common issue that readers have had and it is all to do with the beans. I’ve had some be almost mushy in 30 minutes and some take almost 2 hours. You just have to keep testing them as they boil.
I’ve read a few reasons why the beans are not getting tender. But there are no hard fast rules because it seems every batch of beans are different (see below at my test results on this)
- They are old beans. You can’t be sure how old they are, even if they are within their expiration date.
- You have hard water. Hard water can toughen the skins.
- You didn’t soak long enough. 8-12 hours is optimal but no more than 24.
- Use bottled or distilled water to soak.
- Allow enough time to soak the dried beans. This helps them soften and cook faster.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) per cup (453 grams) of beans to the soaking water, this may not always work.
Updated 28th February 2020
Regarding the above information on the cooking of the beans, this week I decided to test out some beans from different sources. Each batch I spilt into two pans, one I added baking soda and salt, the other nothing. The result is, some cooked really quickly (they were almost mushy in 40 minutes) and some took almost 2 hours to cook. The baking soda and salt did not make a difference. The beans are going to be done when they want.
Yes, Brits eat beans for breakfast because the England is known for its Full English Breakfast (picture above) consisting of sunny-side up eggs, English back bacon, cooked tomato slices, black pudding and fried bread.
British Baked Beans v’s American Beans
Baked bean originated in the U.S. American-style baked beans are cooked with pork (bacon) molasses and brown sugar and the sauce is much sweeter and thick. These British-style beans are without meat, with a thinner tomato sauce with carrots, celery and Worcestershire sauce.
How long will these beans keep?
These beans will keep refrigerated in a sealed container for 3-4 days or frozen for 2-3 months.
This recipe yields 2 quarts/8 cups/1.8 kg.
- 2 cups (453 grams) great northern beans, navy or haricot, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 10 ounces (284 grams) yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 cup (87 grams) carrot, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped or grated
- 14-ounce (400 grams) can/tin crushed or whole tomatoes
- 2 1/2 tablespoons tomato ketchup
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- To a large bowl add 4 cups (2 pints) of warm water to a bowl and add beans, soak at room temperature for 8 hours. After 8 hours drain, discard the liquid and rinse the beans.
- To a large saucepan, add 6 cups water and bring to a simmer. Add the beans, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring often so they don't stick to the bottom. Cooking time will depend on your beans so check them often for tenderness.
- Preheat oven to 320°F/160°C.
- While the beans cook (15 minutes before they finish boiling) add the oil to a large, oven-proof skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery, cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes (if using whole, crush with hands) ketchup, sugar, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Be mindful if your ketchup is salty, you may need to adjust the salt. Stir to combine. Add 1/4 cup (50 ml) water and stir, simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in 1 cup (236 ml) water. Use a hand blender or a blender, working in batches to blend until smooth. Return back to the same pan stir in 3/4 cup water. Taste for seasoning.
- Drain the cooked beans and discard the water. Add the beans to the pan with the cooked vegetables and stir.
- Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for 20 minutes uncovered.
Amount Per Serving Calories 138Total Fat 2gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 2gCholesterol 0mgSodium 332mgCarbohydrates 26gFiber 6gSugar 8gProtein 6g
This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.
If you’ve made these British Baked Beans or any other recipe leave a comment below. I love to hear from my readers!