Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Humble Baked Beans

Poor beans! They're so much less photogenic than glowing orange peaches or juicy red cherries. They are, however, the carriers of protein and, until now, have been one of the very few things I buy canned, largely because Q has a little beans on toast obsession.

When I came across a canned baked beans recipe on the National Center for Home Food Preservation site it seemed like a good experiment. Unfortunately, the recipe as written should be titled "White Beans in Vaguely Brown Water". It had almost no flavor so after they'd finished their oven time and I was convinced that the recipe was a dud, we doctored them before proceeding to the canning steps.

Here's the ingredients I would follow from the beginning next time (instructions for preparation are in the link above).
3 lbs. white beans (made about 10 pints of beans)
Reserve all of the cooking liquid. To 1 qt. of the liquid add...
1/2 c molasses
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1/4 c ketchup
3 T mustard
3 T salt
Mix this in with the cooked beans and 2 strips of bacon cut into 1" lengths. Place the mixture in your baking dish and add additional reserved liquid until the beans are covered. I did give them a stir and add a little more liquid every hour and I would definitely only bake them for 4 hours. I did them for 5 and they seem just about right but I fear that the canning process pushed them over the edge to mushy.

Q's been having beans as part of his breakfast for the last couple of days and enjoying them. The first attempt was definitely successful enough to try version 2.0 next time we need beans.

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