Time: overnight soak and then 8 hours cooking
Yields: approximately 6 cups (depends on the size of your beans)
What makes these beans ‘Boston’ baked?
Molasses. Blackstrap molasses is what brings Boston to your beans. This deliciously dark syrup contains both calcium and sugar, and these two elements slow-down the cooking time of dried beans. The molasses is why you can bake these beans all day and they don’t turn to mush, and it’s why this recipe is best when it can slowly simmer for 8-10 hours in a ceramic crock pot.
These beans freeze well for up to 3 months. Or if freezing is not your style, leftovers taste great smooshed into a sweet potato and roasted corn burrito. Or mixed into a pot of baked potato soup. Or in a bowl of polenta with some steamed greens. How about combined with some roasted squash, sauteed shallots and mushrooms for cottage pie filling? Lots of meals can be had with this one-pot wonder.
- 1 pound of dry navy beans or any bean you prefer
- 1 large onion, minced finely
- ½ cup blackstrap molasses
- ¼ cup chopped dates or your preferred sweetener (if liquid then reduce amount of water)
- 1 tsp mustard powder (the spice) or 1 tbsp grainy mustard (the condiment)
- 2 tbsp tomato paste (I’ve used ketchup in a pinch and left out the dates)
- 1 bouillon cube or 1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari or coconut aminos
- 2 tbsp white miso (for taste rather than nutrition as it’s going to simmer for hours)
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp red chili flakes (or more if that’s how you roll)
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 cups water off the boil
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
Day before baking: Rinse your beans, place in a container and cover with water to soak overnight. Remember the beans are going to expand and make sure your container will hold them.
Alternatively, instead of an overnight soak you could put the rinsed beans in a large pot with water and bring to a vigorous boil. Turn off the heat, put a lid on the pot, and leave to soak on the element for an hour. Drain, rinse, and proceed with the recipe.
Day of baking: Place your hydrated beans in your slow cooker with all the ingredients up to, and excluding, the apple cider vinegar (we’ll add that after it’s cooked). Give it all a good stir. Pop on the lid, set the heat, and go about your day while your crock pot does its magic.
My crock pot is ooooooooooold and needs about 8 hours on high to cook this recipe. If your slow cooker was made after the mid-90’s then it will run hotter and chances are your beans will cook better at a lower heat setting. You want them to simmer slowly for at least 8 hours to get that deep flavour baked beans are known for. This is not fast food! Set your crock pot on high and then come and check on it after an hour or so – if it’s boiling then turn the heat down.
At the 8-hour mark, take the lid off and add the 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar now. Carefully taste your molten baked beans and adjust the seasonings. Slow cooker meals will always need to be fine-tuned when it comes to the final flavour. Always. Don’t skip this step. What do your baked beans need? Salt and pepper? Some onion powder? Garlic powder? More spice (sriracha) ? More sweet (maple syrup)? More umami (soy sauce)? A squeeze of BBQ sauce? Some nooch? Tinker around a bit and make it your own. Bon appetit!