In yesteryear a sign of the fall and winter months in Northern New England was often heralded with church dinners, usually consisting of Old Fashioned Homemade Baked Beans, Baked Ham, rolls, coleslaw and homemade pies. The ladies of the church would get together and make many pans of baked beans using locally grown dried beans from the fall harvest, salt pork or bacon from the fall livestock reduction and often maple syrup from the local providers. This tradition has somehow fallen by the wayside and the art of making nutritious baked beans at home has been replaced with a can opener and a can of Bush’s, Heinz, B&M, or Campbell’s baked beans. So for those of you who have an appreciation of natural, wholesome food and some patients, please revive this art with the following time-tested baked bean recipe. Remember all good recipes are modified by the person making them. Please share your favorite recipe, comment or food review. To feature your business, contact us for advertising information in New England Living Magazine.
Old-Fashioned Homemade New England Baked Beans
2 lbs. of dried beans (Soldier, Navy, Jacobs Cattle, Yellow Eyed or Great Northern)
Please rinse and pick over beans before using. Place these rinsed and picked over beans in a LARGE container of cold water. The water should be more than double the depth of the beans in the pot as the beans will absorb a large amount of the water. Let the beans soak 8 to 12 hours.
Drain and rinse beans. Place in a large stock pot and cover with water. Again, at least 3 inches above the beans. Bring to a boil and then gently boil until you can blow gently on the skin of the bean and the skin will start to pull away from the bean. Turn heat to very low and add 1 heaping tablespoon of Baking Soda to the water. Stirring constantly or this will foam up and boil over. Cook for another 5 mins on low keeping a close eye on the pot. (The baking soda takes most of the gas from the beans)
Drain and rinse the beans again. Make sure to rinse them well. Let drain while you combine:
1 1/2 cups Maple Syrup preferably amber or darker syrup is best
1/4 to 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1/4 to 1/2 cup Molasses the Darker the richer flavor
1 1/2 teaspoons Dry Mustard
2 Cups boiling water
Place in bottom of baking dish, bean pot, or crock pot (6 quart or larger):
1 Large Onion, Quartered (optional)
6 strips of Bacon cooked and diced or 1/3 lb. salt pork sautéed lightly in pieces (optional)
Add Beans and cover with Liquid Mixture. Bake at 350 Degree oven for about 2 to 3 hours or I start in Crockpot on Low for 6 hours and then finish in the oven for about 1 hour. Make sure the beans stay covered in liquid so they do not dry out. Test every 30 mins after the first 2 hours when baking or after 5 hours in Crock Pot. Baked beans should be soft, not crunchy. Over cooked bean will be mushy.