From “Feh” to Yum – Canned Ham & Southern Beans

Some long time ago I’d had some leftover ham and was making Thanksgiving Turkey and, well, was out of fridge space, so some of the ham got canned.

I’ve lost track of where I reported on the results (assuming I did somewhere). One of the problems of having a topic span multiple threads. Well, in summary, using the pan drippings has too much salt in it and that sucks more of the moisture out of the ham in the canning; which leaves you with a texture more like corned beef than ham. But still tasty.

Not bad, but not “ham” either. So I’ve slowly worked off most of the jars over the months. One was still lurking in the back of the cupboard and today I was reorganizing it. (i.e. pulling out the things that had sat there over a year and not been eaten into an “Eat it or toss it” pile.)

Also in that pile was a can of “Glory” brand “Seasoned Southern Style Great Northern Beans”. I’d bought 2 cans of it at Walmart a year+ ago. The spouse didn’t like the bell pepper flavor in it. I found it an odd mix of too much pepper flavor AND too bland. Of course, canned beans ARE bland and these were better than that, but still not savory YUM! land.

The ingredients list is:

“Prepared great northern beans, water, less than 2% of bacon fat, salt, dried onion, dried bell pepper, natural flavors, pork stock, chicken fat, canola oil, soybean oil, smoke flavor, caramelized sugar, caramel color, spice, garlic powder, TBHQ (antioxident)”

I suspect the “spice” was pepper more than the spouse liked (and maybe more than I wanted) while the use of dried plant bits gave it that bland overtone. Again, not bad, just uninspired. I’d rather just season my own dry beans as I can control the peppers more to our liking and “up” the flavor profile at the same time.

Thinking maybe the ham could uplift the beans and the beans could lower the salt in the ham, I mixed them. 15 oz beans, 8 oz jar (so about 6 ounce product) ham. It worked very very well.

The result is a richly flavored “Ham and Beans”. The ham is still be bit drier than I’d like. Perhaps on standing the last 1/2 pot of it will moisten the ham more. It is also a bit saltier than I’d prefer, but much less than the ham alone. Probably would have been fine had I not tossed in all the salty stock from the ham jar, but why waste the flavor in it?

I could easily see this as a regular “Prepper Meal”. Heck, I could even see it as a once a month just me meal. (The flavors and especially the bell pepper flavor are stronger than the spouse likes. She likes bland food and thinks waving the pepper shaker near the pot puts too much in…) For me, the flavors were very nice with only a little too much salt. Better canning technique on the ham would fix that. As a “dump together and heat” meal, it is low in prep time, cook time, and fuel burn; so a nice fast meal when short of time (or fuel…). Not much clean-up either as you toss the bean can and just rinse the jar.

While I’m still more likely to just do my own beans, and while I’m still more interested in a more ham like canned ham (using water to can instead of salty dripping); I’m quite happy to eat this mix; especially with a slice of bread and butter. So perhaps someday after I’ve got all the cupboards sorted, ready for restock, and have some left over ham, I may make a couple of more jars “just that way” and buy a couple of more cans of these “Seasoned” beans and just let them sit together on the shelf for a year or so… waiting for that cold winter day that just cries out for savory rich salty Ham & Beans…

The moral of the story is to not toss things that are less than stellar; figure out how to raise their game.

Or maybe while 2 wrongs don’t make a right, 2 so-so things can?

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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3 Responses to From “Feh” to Yum – Canned Ham & Southern Beans

  1. Larry Ledwick says:

    Hmm, you can counter a bit too much salt by adding either potato or rice to a dish, ham beans and rice sounds like it might be a good combo.

  2. tom0mason says:

    I’ve found that for many recipes, some well chopped onions slowly cooked in a covered pot, added (with the onion cooking liquid) to the dish helps to reduce the over-salty taste. The key to this is to not ruin the flavors you want by adding too much onion.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Well, since I’m a big lover of salt, I just ate it and noted in passing that others would not like it so much ;-)

    When just a kid we had salt licks for the rabbits my dad raised. I got fond of them (both the rabbits and the salt licks ;-) and would buy an extra one for me at the feed store. I’ve got one on my bookcase shelf now, about 1/2 gone. Lord knows how many I’ve consumed over the years.

    For those unfamiliar with them, they are a small wheel of salt About as big around as a beer bottle and about 1/2 inch thick with a pencil sized hole in the middle for string to tie it to the cage wall. You can get them in plain salt or with various minerals added. I like plain, but with minerals is OK too.

    I had to learn that others were not so fond of salt, so when cooking I note in passing if the salt level isn’t “right” for others. But don’t worry if it is high for me ;-)

    But yes, the typical “fix” is to add more vegetables, grains and sometimes meats and not add any more stock or salts. I think that’s why the beans worked well. They were a bit short on salt for my taste so cut it nicely, just maybe I ought to have used about 1/2 as much ham as I did. On the next batch, I’ll not use the reduced concentrated pan drippings in the canning and the ham ought to be just about right. We’ll see.

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