Stacking Functions Garden

Recipe: real baked beans


What?!  A vegetarian Nourishing Traditions recipe that could easily be made vegan?  Here it is, and this is one of the only recipes out of NT that I tried and immediately loved, with minimal changes.  It’s so easy that even I can make it.  Adam was not involved with this at all, and they turned out perfect.  Be warned: it takes two full days to complete the recipe, 98% unattended.

Baked Beans (from Nourishing Traditions)
4 cups dried beans (I used 1 c. black and 3 c. navy beans)
2 med. onions
2 T. butter
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small can tomato paste -or- 1 can tomatoes, with liquid
3 T. tamari or soy sauce
3 T. white vinegar or white wine
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. molasses
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 tsp. salt
1 pinch red pepper flakes

Cover the beans with water and soak for 24 hours.  No shit: 24 hours.  Drain, rinse, and set aside for a moment.

Heat the butter and olive oil in a dutch oven and sauté the onions until just soft.  Add the beans, with enough water to cover them, plus all the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil on the stovetop, then bake in a 350 degree oven for 6 hours.  Yep, 6 hours.  Stir it maybe once per hour.  The last three hours, you might need to add a few cups more of water if it starts to dry out.

Crock pot/extremely lazy variation: skip frying the onions and just throw them in raw with everything else.  Cook on low for 12-14 hours and use a bit less water.  You won’t need to stir more than once or twice.

The first few times I made these, I really thought they were awesome but would be even better if I cooked them with a pork hock all day.  I tried that a few months back, and honestly, decided I like them better vegetarian.  The pork just kinda killed all the other flavors. Also, I think the flavor turns out a bit richer when they’re made in the oven rather than the crockpot.  But, both are good.

The best part:

This made 5 very full pints of baked beans. We’ll have one for supper tonight and freeze the rest.  Barbecue season here we come.

If you’ve never made homemade baked beans from dried beans, you ought to try it.  The texture is so much nicer than store-bought baked beans.  Less mushy, more substantial, and definitely richer-tasting.  Also, it’s a nice bonus to skip the BPA, high-fructose corn syrup, and everything else that you get along with any canned food off the grocery store shelf.  Win-win.

Update, June 14, 2011: Apparently, adding 2 T. of vinegar to the water for the soaking process helps make beans even more digestible.  I will try it next time I make them.

5 thoughts on “Recipe: real baked beans

  1. Pingback: Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie and Recipe Roundup | The Heavy Table - Minneapolis-St. Paul and Upper Midwest Food Magazine and Blog

  2. oh i am totally trying these! sounds delicious, and easy!

  3. We make these. However, instead of olive oil, I add an equal amount of grassfed butter. On top of that, I add some pastured bacon grease 🙂 Highly recommend it! I also sometimes cheat and use canned beans (Eden is BPA free) and throw them in the crockpot. Then they are ready for dinner.

  4. I know this is an old post, but I only recently found this recipe in the Nourishing Traditions cookbook and tried it just a few days ago!

    I ended up with quite a few still very hard beans even after soaking them for a full day (plus a few hours). I’m not sure if it was the quality of the beans, the terracotta pot I soaked and cooked them in, or the fact that I didn’t stir them very often while cooking (maybe a combination of all of the above?).

    Do you have any experience with that happening? Or thoughts?

    • Hi Anna! They should still be quite hard after soaking–it’s not until you cook them that they get soft. Having said that, I recently used some VERY old beans in this same recipe and at the end more than half of them were still chewy and unpleasant to eat. So I guess beans do expire after a while–these were probably five years old (long story).

      You shouldn’t have to stir more than once or twice per hour while cooking–I like the caramelization that you get when stir less frequently!

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