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This is a project in that you have to soak the beans overnight the night before and then they cook in a low oven for 8 hours or so. But after they get going the smell in the kitchen is worth it. And I recommend using the salt pork because that is the best part when you are eating the beans and it also gives the beans a much glossier appearance and texture.
If you want to be very traditional, serve it with Boston Brown Bread which actually comes in a can and can be heated in a saucepan of warm water. But be sure to open the can first otherwise you will have brown bread all over the kitchen when the can explodes. We also used to have it with scored hot dogs pan fried in butter. And that was Saturday night dinner. With ketchup on the beans and mustard on the hot dogs that was a real treat.
A Freshly Baked Pot of Boston Baked Beans
So get yourself a traditional Boston Baked Bean pot and give it a try. You won't be disappointed. Enjoy!
  • 1 lb navy beans(or some other small white bean)
  • 4 oz. salt pork, cut in three pieces (optional-See below)
  • 1/3 c molasses
  • 1/4 c packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 t ground ginger
  • 1/2 t dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 t table salt (if using salt pork, decrease to 1 t)
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 t black pepper
1.  Rinse beans and pick through to make sure they are clean. Soak beans overnight in a non-reactive pot or bowl on the countertop in enough water to cover by several inches.
Bag of Navy Pea Beans
Raw Beans Soaked Overnight
2.  In a pot large enough to hold the beans, boil 4 quarts of water with 1 t baking soda. Drain the beans and add to the pot once water is boiling. When it returns to a boil, continue to cook for 15 minutes. The beans will develop a foam so keep a close eye on the pot as this can boil over. The foam won't hurt anything but you can skim it if you want. The beans should be tender but do not overcook. When you blow on the beans the skin should peal back easily. Once done, drain the beans in a colander and rinse lightly.
Boil the Beans at a Slow Boil
Boiling Beans with Foam on Top
Blowing on the Beans Will Cause the Peels to Split Slightly
3.  While the beans are boiling, add molasses, brown sugar, ginger, mustard, salt, pepper and cayenne to a bowl and mix. Boil 3 cups water to be ready when the beans are done.
Add Molasses, Brown Sugar and Spices to a Mixing Bowl
Mix the Molasses, Brown Sugar and Spices
4.  If you are using salt pork, add 1 piece of the salt pork to the bottom of the bean pot. Add 1/2 the the beans and then add another piece of the salt pork. Add the remaining beans. If you are not using the salt pork just add the beans to the pot. Pour the ingredients from the bowl over the beans in the bean pot. Rinse the bowl with a little of the boiling water to get all the good stuff and add to the beans. Add enough boiling water to just cover beans and if you are using the salt pork, top with the remaining piece of salt pork.The water should just cover the beans, not drown them. You can always add more water if necessary but too much water can be a problem.
Add Beans and a Piece of Salt Pork
Pour the Molasses Mixture Over the Beans
Beans Ready to go into the Oven
5.  Cover the bean pot and place in a cold oven. Bake, covered at 250 °F for 7 1/2 hours. Check the pot at about 5 hours and if it looks really dry add boiling water to come just below the top of the beans. Do not over add water. After 7 1/2 hours, remove the bean pot top and continue cooking for 30 to 45 minutes or until the beans are at the desired consistency. Let the beans set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Beans After 5 Hours – No Water Necessary
6.  Another time I was cooking beans I checked them at 4 1/2 hours and this time they needed a little water. The pictures of the pot before the water was added and after the water was added are below. It took 1/4 to 1/2 c at most to bring the water just to the surface. At this stage of the cooking you don't want the water above the beans. Again, do not add too much water.
Beans After 4 1/2 Hours Looking Like They Need a Little Water
Beans After Adding the Water
7.  When they are done they will be deep brown without the sight of any water on top. Before serving give them a quick stir.
Boston Baked Beans
Serve the beans with ham or hot dogs or pork chops or chicken or anything else you want to eat. Make sure there is a bottle of ketchup nearby and some toast or english muffins and you are in for a treat. Worth the wait!
Another New England staple with beans is Brown Bread which you can buy in a can. Yes, that's right, bread in a can. And it is surprisingly good. As with everything else in Boston it seems it is made with cornmeal and molasses. You can make it yourself and it is baked in a can with a lid in a water bath. But it's easier to buy it at the grocery store. And all you do is take it out of the can, slice it about 1/2 - 3/4'' thick, wrap it in foil and put it in the oven at 250 for 30 minutes or so.
Below is a plate of Boston Baked Beans with knockwurst and Brown Bread with a little butter on it. Just add ketchup and enjoy and be sure to tell us what you think and what you do to make your beans even better!
Make It Mine
  • Joanne said her mother made baked beans every Saturday night which was the same in my house. Her mother put onion in the beans which I don't do when cooking the beans initially (see my comment below about "refried" beans). Give it a try by dicing up a small whole or half a medium onion in 1/4" dice and add it in the pot after you add the first layer of beans and let us know if that will be part of your Make It Mine recipe.
  • Joanne also added that in her house there would always be homemade rolls, bread and cinnamon rolls served with the beans. I can smell those cinnamon rolls now! Give it a try and tell us what you think.
  • One of my favorites was the "refried" beans we would have on Sunday night. Start by frying some bacon and then once the bacon is cooked remove it from the pan onto paper towels and add the leftover beans to the bacon fat and fry them until they are heated well all the way through. When I do this I do like to cut up some onion and cook that with the beans. Serve them with the bacon and a ham steak or cut up some hot dogs into bite sized pieces and fry those right in with the beans. And a nice piece of rye toast or brown bread is great with this.
Recipe Yield: Serves 6-8 servings
Prep Time - Active: 15 Minutes
Prep Time - Inactive:    8 Hours or overnight
Cooking Time: 8 hours
Category: Side Dishes, Beans/Legumes, Entrees
Cooking Techniques: Baking/Roasting
Cuisine: American
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Joanne -- February 22, 2016 1:52 pm
I bought a chunk of salt pork. I was tired of paying bacon prices. My mother always had salt pork in the house. I was going to use it instead of bacon in one of my bean recipes. I rinsed the salt off of it and fried it.It was so salty I didn't want to put it in my soup. I tried to boil the salty fried bacon in water. I assumed all the flavor would be washed down the drain. My beans tasted okay. I found your website because I have to learn how to use the remainder of the pork correctly. Interestingly enough I discovered Boston- sidewalks. I live in Boston. My mother made beans every saturday. I will try your recipe but I remember my mom used an onion in her dish. I don't want you to be jealous but homemade rolls,bread , and cinnamon rolls were made with the beans. We were poor so most things were made from scratch. Thanks for the cooking lesson. I am looking forward to reading your blog.
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