Homemade Baked Beans, and how to feed the family very cheaply

Still in lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and fast running out of funds, let alone inspiration, with which to provide two square meals a day to six fully grown homeworkers, I thought I would see if I could make my own baked beans. Only criteria being that they must taste as least as good as a cheap supermarket variety, and as close to the original Heinz Baked Beans as possible. So, I bought a pound of dried haricot beans, ( cost £1.10 for 500g in Waitrose), did a lot of research in various old cookbooks of mine, and hey presto! I made a huge vat of delicious baked beans with which to feed at least twelve people, and which cost less than a fiver!

To buy eight cans of Heinz baked beans would have cost the same , however, at around £5.00. But where’s the fun in that !

The ingredients listed on the tin of the real thing were a bit of a help!

An old tin salvaged from our boat, in the days that we were still allowed to visit her.



500g of Dried Haricot Beans soaked overnight in water.

2 Celery Sticks,

1 Onion,

1 Carrot, large

2 Garlic cloves

1 Tin Chopped Tomatoes, 400 g

3 TBS Tomato Ketchup

1TBS Tomato Puree

2 TBS Vegetable Oil

1 TBS Sea Salt

1 big TBS Black Treacle

Scant 1/4 teaspoon powdered cloves

1/4 pint milk

2TBS Cornflour


1. Bring the previously soaked beans to the boil in the water in which they have been soaking. Boil for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to a very gentle simmer, or place in simmering oven of AGA. Check after one hour to see whether tender, or leave for a bit longer, maybe up to 2 hours. Do not boil fiercely or they will break up. Do not drain.

2. Whilst the beans are cooking, make the tomato sauce. Peel and chop the celery, carrot, onion and garlic and soften in the oil over a gentle heat, without browning, for around 10 minutes. Add the tin of tomatoes, tomato ketchup, tomato puree, treacle, salt, powdered cloves and around one cup of the hot water in which the beans are cooking. Simmer gently together for around 30 minutes, adding more water if getting too thick. Then puree the whole mixture with a stick blender or in a liquidizer. It should look like a really thick soup, or a soft puree.Put back in the pan, and back on a low heat.

3. Slake the cornflour in the milk and add this to the pureed sauce. Bring to a simmer, and bubble away, stirring continuously for one minute. The sauce should resemble a thick orange bechamel, albeit a touch grainy.

4. When the beans are quite tender, and cooked, add them bit by bit to the sauce using a slotted spoon. When they are all added, and using the liquid the beans have cooked in to thin the sauce if need be, taste and adjust for seasoning, maybe adding a little more salt if really necessary.

5. Put the beans and sauce into a low oven, or simmering oven of the Aga for around 30 to 60 minutes for the flavours to truly marry.

Served with Toad-in-the-hole, a simple feast fit for a king!

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