Thursday, 13 January 2011

Recipe Thursday - Baked Beans

I have made baked beans in years and thought it would be a good dish for my vegetarian son.  On Saturday night after the water softener had run, I set my beans to soak.  Left them overnight, and boiled them the next morning.  After and hour in the pot they were still hard, but I knew they would be in the oven for about four hours, so let it go.  Well, after all that additional time in the oven, they were still like little marbles.  eeks.  The flavour was good, but the crunchiness was just plain wrong.

This has happened to me before and the beans were just as inedible.

Shopping time.  I bought bottled water and a new bag of beans and began again.  After soaking overnight, the beans even looked better. Bigger.  Then I boiled them for an hour and the beans were tender this time.  The final beans were terrific.  I managed to grab this last dish of them for a photo.  In fact, it was really hard to get a picture of them.  Too many reflective surfaces and the camera has a hard time deciding which point to focus on. 

Why were my beans hard?  I did some research and it has to do with the hardness of the water, the calcium goes into the skin of the bean and hardens it.  This stops the water from reaching the inside of the bean and allowing it to soften.  The solution is to use bottled water.  You can instead add an 1/8 of a teaspoon of baking soda to the soaking and cooking water, but I didn't like that option.  Supposedly that diminishes the nutrients of the dish.

Baked Beans

2 cups dried navy beans

1 fist sized onion, chopped
1 cup ketchup
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2 tbsp dark honey

Put the beans in a large dish, cover with lots of water and let them soak overnight.
In the morning, strain off the old water and pour the beans into a large pot.  Fill with fresh water.  Bring to a boil and simmer for one hour.  The beans should be fairly soft.  If they are hard like marbles, don't proceed, start with fresh beans and bottled water.

Into the bean pot put: onions, ketchup, brown sugar, molasses, honey and spice.  Stir and then add the drained, cooked beans.  Add enough fresh water to bring the liquid level to the top of the beans.

Bake covered in a 300 F. over for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until tender.  Add more water as required.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads.  Visit to find a list of links to food related posts.  You are invited to add your current post to the list.

21 comments:

Zoey said...

pumpkin pie spice sounds interesting in baked beans...never had that before.

I am glad your second batch turned out. I had also never heard of water making a difference. Cooking is such a science!

....Petty Witter said...

Thanks for sharing this Heather, I'll pass it on to a friend and suggest she use bottled water. For years she has tried to make her own beans only to eventually go back to the tinned variety.

marthalama said...

I had never thought about hard water making hard beans, but that does make sense. I love baked beans, I think I'm going to try your recipe this weekend. Thanks

Darlene said...

Yum! These look so good and now you've got me craving baked beans. lol. Too bad about the first batch though.

(M)ary said...

Ah. This answers a 20 year question I had about a failed bean soak. d

caite said...

I never thought of that issue with the water.
But I like baked beans!
The spices, again not something I ever used. I do add dry mustard....

caite said...

I never thought of that issue with the water.
But I like baked beans!
The spices, again not something I ever used. I do add dry mustard....

caite said...

I never thought of that issue with the water.
But I like baked beans!
The spices, again not something I ever used. I do add dry mustard....

Beth F said...

Yep. The water can be problem. Also, I don't add salt until the beans are soft -- sometimes salt will keep the beans from softening.

I've never add pumpkin spice to my baked beans, but that sounds really, really good.

Kaye said...

I think your pic came out great! Your recipe sounds yummy too. It's just too bad you had to start all over again.

Kaye said...

I think your pic came out great! Your recipe sounds yummy too. It's just too bad you had to start all over again.

Darla D said...

Those look delicious! And interesting about the water. Who knew?

Margot said...

Very interesting about the water. I've had that happen occasionally but couldn't understand why the beans wouldn't cook soft. Thanks for sharing your solution.

Rikki said...

I've never made baked nbeans before, but it sounds not too hard to do. I'll defnitely give this recipe a try.

Ellie said...

I've never made homemade baked beans. Now that I've seen your recipe I need to try it. I know they've got to taste soooo much better than canned.

Peppermint Ph.D. said...

I've never made baked beans from dried beans...I would love to try though :)

Chinoiseries said...

Wow, I really didn't know that bottled water could save a bean dish. Though, since I discovered how fast dried beans are done in a pressure cooker, I haven't tried soaking/cooking them any other way :S

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

ooh, the pumpkin pie spice sounds like a yummy addition to the 'typical' baked bean recipe.

Very interesting about the problem you had with tap water ... have you run into this with other things you've cooked? I don't think we have particularly hard water, but we do have a fairly high iron content.

Heather said...

A pressure cooker is one kitchen tool that I have not used. My uncle used to use one on his tougher cuts of game. He enjoys hunting, but some of those meats required a more aggressive method of cooking to render them tender enough. Prehaps one day I'll get brave and try one. Would be terrific for beans.

Chinoiseries said...

Or maybe I'm just lazy ;) Last week I pressure cooked dried red beans. Took me half an hour! I may be missing out on flavor though, haven't yet slow-cooked beans. Your recipe looks really good, I may just have to give it a try whenever I have more time.
Thanks for joining the Chinese Literature Challenge :)

Elly D said...

This always happens to me with beans and peas though we are supposed to have soft water, Hmmmm.. However, I've also read that if the beans are old then they will never soften. My beans always tend to lurk in my cupboard for a long time before I remember to use them. You bean recipe looks tasty maybe I will give it a go. Thank you for sharing with us. Hugs Elly