July is National Baked Bean month, so what better reason to make a pot of baked beans. Instead of taking a shortcut with canned beans, this time I started with dried. The result? Big baked beans with a meaty texture plus rich sweetness from brown sugar and molasses, a little kick from garlic and ginger, and smoky flavors from bacon and spices. Who could resist this summer classic?
Baked Beans – A Summer Classic
Baked beans signal backyard barbecues, casual get-togethers, and family gatherings. Canned beans are great when you are short on time, but like many recipes, there are rewards when you start from scratch.
For years I’ve made baked beans as my mom did. By using canned beans and doctoring them up you can make tasty baked beans in about an hour.
Making baked beans from scratch takes longer, but you can spread the work over two to three days if needed: soaking, simmering and finally baking. The process is easy. It just takes a little thinking ahead.
Rancho Gordo Heirloom Beans
With my recent shipment of dried heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo I had a pantry full of good options for my baked beans. Goat’s Eye, Yellow Indian Woman or Jacob’s Cattle are among the many good choices. For this batch I went with the Goat’s Eye beans. If you’ve never ordered from Rancho Gordo before, have fun reading all of the bean descriptions as you decide what to purchase. They all make for a good pot of beans.
Soaking and Cooking Beans
Begin by soaking the beans overnight in plenty of filtered water (or use the quick soak method to speed things up). The next day, simmer beans until tender with carrot, onion and celery. My beans took about three hours to become tender. Low and slow is the best way to cook beans.
Finish the Recipe – Make it Ahead
To finish the recipe, cook the bacon, sauté some onion and garlic, add your sweet essentials and spices, then bake the beans in the oven for about an hour. You can do this the same day or cool, refrigerate after cooking and finish baking the next day.
About sweeteners in this recipe. I opted out of refined white sugar and used molasses and real brown sugar. Be sure to buy a real brown sugar, not brown sugar that passes as brown because it is just white sugar with added molasses. Foe good sweeteners, check out the options from Wholesome Sweeteners.
For fun, check out this website about American food holidays. The list for July reads like a classic summer cookout. Baked beans, hot dogs, ice cream, blueberries and picnics are all honored in the month of July. However you celebrate summer, try making a delicious pot of baked beans from scratch.
Dried bean cooking method from Rancho Gordo
Quick soaking method at Epicurious.com
More dried bean recipes from Rancho Gordo
Mom’s Chili Bean recipe from Simply Recipes