Sweetness, saltiness, quantity of sauce, softness of the beans… there are so many factors that go into the perfect tin of baked beans. We all know the old adage that Beanz Meanz Heinz, but how much difference does it really make if you buy supermarket’s own or a pricey named brand tin?
I put my Heinz loyalty to the test in the name of journalism, and (without spoiling the results) I must concede that everything I thought I knew was wrong. Without further ado, here are the results of my baked beans blind taste test challenge.
In the interest of fairness…
To make sure the challenge was totally blind and everything was above-board, I had my partner cook four spoonfuls of beans separately, rinsing out the pan between cooking sessions to eradicate any lingering flavour.
Each serving was presented on a freshly toasted slice of Hovis Seed Sensations bread with a gentle spread of Flora, and all portions were eaten fresh from the pan to ensure maximum flavour.
I selected beans from two big name brands, Heinz and Branston, and two from supermarkets’ own ranges, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose Essentials.
Flavour profile: Slightly too sweet, but otherwise a delicate balance of flavours
Mouthfeel: Good texture, beans firm but tender, not too much sauce
Overall rating: 8/10
Brand guess: This must be Heinz, the king of beans. A nearly perfect score, slightly too sweet but that can be forgiven with the right complementary salty butter.
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Flavour profile: A little bland, though maybe just in comparison to plate one. A bit of a weird aftertaste: couldn’t quite put my finger on it but something wasn’t right here. Neither salty nor sweet.
Mouthfeel: Very watery, the sauce drowned the toast and turned it to mush, ruining the delicate crunch-to-sauce balance. The beans themselves were a good texture, but the equilibrium of the classic dish was so ruined by the sauce that this didn’t make a difference.
Overall rating: 4/10
Brand guess: Sainsbury’s – at less than half the price of a branded alternative, this is the kind of mess I’d expect.
Flavour profile: Simply awful. Bitter, a weird taste of BBQ, none of the trademark baked bean flavour sensations I expect to enjoy.
Mouthfeel: Not good on this front either: dry, chewy and claggy, the beans tasted like sawdust and the sauce was too sticky to add any needed moisture.
Overall rating:2/10. They are still baked beans after all, so it’d be unjust to score any lower.
Brand guess: This must be my bean nemesis – Branston.
Flavour profile: A little too sweet for my liking too, which makes me think this is another supermarket tin. It’s also worth noting that these beans were really quite pink in colour – a little unsettling when you’re expecting the trusty orange hue of the tomato sauce.
Mouthfeel: Very soft and a little bit dry, not a winning combination.
Overall rating: 6/10
Brand guess: A little better than my Sainsbury’s guess, which makes me think this one must be Waitrose.
Well, it’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Was I right in my guesses? Have my bean habits changed forever?
Here are the correct answers to my blind guesses.
Plate 1: Shockingly, my favourite beans were not Heinz, but Sainz. Yes, Sainsbury’s 30p own-brand beans beat the competition and now claim the top spot according to my palate.
Plate 2: I’m ashamed to say my second-worst beans were Heinz. Considering these are usually my go-to beans, I feel like my life thus far has been a lie.
Plate 3: Here’s one I was correct about: Branston are the worst. No arguments, please, my feelings about my bean judgements are hurt enough.
Plate 4: Right again, these were Waitrose Essentials. Cheaper than the posh supermarket’s other own-brand alternatives, but still a pretty decent bean choice.
What are your favourite baked beans brands? Let us know in the comments here.
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