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Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Homemade Baked Beans

Good food / recipes, Living well on less $

What cookout or casual gathering would be complete without baked beans? Homemade ones are not difficult to make and taste ever so much better than canned. Like most things you make yourself, they are less expensive than canned or deli varieties. I make them a day ahead, starting them in the evening and cooking all night.

This recipe was adapted from The Fanny Farmer Cookbook, which called for parboiling and baking, but I make them in a Crockpot.  (1977 was the year of the Crockpot--we received 3 of them as wedding presents!  I still have the same Crockpot and husband, for that matter.)

You will need a large Crockpot.

Ingredients: 

2 pounds of assorted dry beans, rinsed. I like a combination of navy pea beans, baby Lima beans, and large Lima beans. 

About 2 quarts of water

2 t. salt

1 C. molasses   I like to use about 3/4 C regular molasses and 1/4 black strap molasses (much darker and stronger)

1 - 2 t. dry mustard

2 T brown or white sugar

Ketchup - big blurp. Honest, that is what I wrote on the recipe card. I think about 1/2 C would do 

Barbecue sauce - little blurp. I would call that 1/4 C

2 T cider vinegar

1 small onion chopped

1/2 pound of bacon or ham. Nueske's bacon would be my favorite, but it is pricey. Any will do. You can add raw bacon, but then you cannot taste the mixture until they are done. If you fry the bacon first, you can either add the bacon drippings too or substitute 1/4 C olive oil. You can also omit the bacon/ham altogether if you want vegetarian beans. Then just add 1/4 C olive oil and a few drops of liquid smoke or veggie bacon bits instead.

Directions: 

Soak the beans about 8 hours (overnight works well), drain, then put all ingredients in Crockpot, stir, and cook about 8 hours on high.

I often don't soak at all and just start them on high the night before, cook all night, and turn to med. or low in the morning. Cook time about 15 - 20 hours. You might have to add some water if they get too dry.

If they are done early, just let them cool and refrigerate, then reheat later to serve.

Sorry, I cannot tell you exactly how long they cook. Cooking time depends on the moisture content of the beans I think.

It has been my experience that if I need them earlier in the day, they won't get done, and if I need them later, they cook quickly! That is why if I need to bring them somewhere, I would make ahead of time and then just heat the day of the occasion.

Often I will make a whole crock full just for the 3 of us and freeze remaining beans in pint freezer jars for future use. If freezing, don't let beans get too done. They will reheat better if a little firmer in texture.

Don't be a slave to the recipe. It is not an exact science. Like them sweeter? Add more sugar. Like them more tangy? Add more barbecue sauce, mustard or vinegar. One reader says she uses 2 T molasses, 1/2 C brown sugar, 1/4 C cider vinegar, and adds 4 cloves.
 

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