Beans on toast

Beans on toast

Scientists develop ‘homegrown’ beans for iconic British dish

Lincolnshire crop could see an end to importing haricot beans for beans on toast.

It’s the iconic British snack that is also eaten as a meal at all times of the day or night, but beans on toast involves ingredients that are far from homegrown, the haricot variety used traditionally shipped in from across the globe.

Attempts in the past to market British-grown fava beans as baked beans have failed due to the difference in taste, but a 12-year project to grow a variety of haricot appears to have been successful.

Scientists at the University of Warwick are hopeful that a commercial Lincolnshire seed crop that can be sown in early May and harvested in September will produce haricot beans which may ultimately end the current trend of importing thousands of tonnes of the dried beans from the US, Canada, Ethiopia and China.

“It’s the first commercial scale planting of a variety of haricot beans that could end up in a can on everybody's supper table,” said Andrew Ward, the farmer growing the beans. “At the moment we don't have any beans that are grown here that are suitable for baked beans, our climate isn't right for producing this type of bean.”

Prof Eric Holub, from Warwick University's Life Sciences department, said: “The work that I have been involved with started in 2011, but actually it was inherited material that had been used here on the university farm in the 1970s and 80s.

“It was put into storage, and it was 2011 that I realised that there was some valuable material and I started reviving it.”

Beans on toast as a dish has been claimed as an invention of the Heinz company back in 1927, but others say it pre-dates the 1920s as an easy to prepare filling snack or meal.

Falstaff Editorial Team
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