The recipe for typical American canned pork and beans varies considerably, but generally consists of navy beans stewed with pork or rendered pork fat. At present, pork and beans is usually also stewed with tomatoes, but this is a 19th century development. Pork and beans is a dish that is routinely purchased canned and reheated on a stove or in a microwave oven.

American canned pork and beans is, "an American canned classic, [and] is recognized by American consumers generally as an article of commerce that contains very little pork." This is due to the high fat content of the salt pork traditionally used for the last 180 years in American pork and beans, which often renders into solution when sufficiently heated.

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