Hunt’s, Ram, or Señorita? Our Canned Pork and Beans Taste TestOctober 16, 2018
Like corned beef, vienna sausages, and others, pork and beans is one of the many American canned classics that, thanks to the years under colonial rule, has won over the hearts of Filipinos. Usually consisting of beans and pork pieces (with the ratio heavily skewed toward the former) in tomato sauce, canned pork and beans has likely roots in baked beans—which refers both to the dish present in many cultures of beans baked low and slow with meat and other ingredients; and the fellow canned food similar to pork and beans but sans the pork. Cheap and (relatively) good for you, they’re a great addition to any kitchen pantry, giving you an instant breakfast or dinner that’s great on pan de sal—but which brand should you pick up?
This American brand is known for its line of preserved tomato products. Their take on pork and beans employs a mid-thick but loose-flowing sauce which is barely salty, but instead comes on the sugary side—it’s almost sweeter than ketchup. We wish it were tarter, but the sauce at least finishes with echoes of spices (we can mostly pick up paprika and black pepper) for a gentle touch of heat and semblance of balance. On the beans front, Hunt’s employs “white beans” according to the ingredient list (likely of the cannellini variety, based on the appearance); but while some pieces are al dente, others feel too firm and the rest are overcooked and mushy. You also get one tiny wad of what looks to be pork fat in appearance, but which tastes oddly rubber and bland, and hardly contributes to the mix.
Sweetness: 5/5 | Saltiness: 2/5 | Bean Firmness: 2.5/5
This local brand’s take stands out from the rest with its use of slightly smaller beans (also listed as “white beans” in the ingredient list) with a slightly waxier feel; we suspect them to specifically be of the Great Northern sort. Surrounding the beans is a pool of tomato sauce similar to Hunt’s in color and consistency, but with a saltier, slightly tangier, and overall better-seasoned mix that pairs well with rice or bread. And though we got the least pork from this brand (in one can we got one medium-sized chunk; in another, just tiny specks), they melt in the mouth wonderfully, infusing the sauce with richness for balance.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Saltiness: 4/5 | Bean Firmness: 3.5/5
Though relatively obscure, this other local player is worth looking out for (we got ours from SM Hypermart). You’re greeted with a porky aroma as you open the can, consistent with the sauce’s porky-tomatoey flavor profile that brings to mind classic Filipino menudo. It lacks the spices we loved from Hunt’s version but comes at the right amount of saltiness, keeping the senses stimulated whether it’s paired with other starches or eaten on its own. Señorita’s beans are excellent; listed as “white beans” as with the other brands, their long form makes them to be likely of the cannellini sort like Hunt’s—but they’re cooked much better, juggling both ample tenderness and an al dente bite. Amping up the meaty flavor are the relatively large piece(s) of pork fat; though you only get 1-2 chunks a can, their size and fatty flavor make up for it.
Sweetness: 3/5 | Saltiness: 3/5 | Bean Firmness: 4/5
The Verdict: Señorita
Though short on the spices, all other aspects of Señorita’s pork and beans—from the rich, meaty-tasting sauce, to the al dente beans and the rich, fatty pork—makes this version our top can of choice. Should you prefer a more classic, tomato-dominant take, try Ram’s; and for those after a decidedly sweeter mix, go for Hunt’s.