New England Boston Baked Beans Sharon Style

Crock Baked Beans One bite of Boston Baked Beans at Boston’s historic Durgin Park (their slogan: Established Before You Were Born), I realized my bean recipe needed some improvement. Everything I’d ever heard about Yankees making the best pot of beans was true. I knew part of their flavor was due to molasses (gets the nutrition nod from Weston Price Foundation, as long as it is unsulphured) and brown sugar, onions, and pork. But Durgin Park’s Boston Baked Beans had something else, a “warmth” and flavor that gave it a more complex “wow” factor.

Several baked bean batches and journeys back to the restaurant, to figure out what my recipe was missing – none of the batches I’d made had that certain special “wow” factor – one of the waitresses finally took pity on me, suggesting, “Why don’t you buy our recipe book?”

Recipe book? Who knew! Now we’d have success! Carefully, precisely following every step, I baked my first batch of Durgin Park beans. With the children simulating a drum roll, I ceremoniously placed the bean pot on the dinner table; together we took our first bite, AND…..

They didn’t taste anything like the baked beans we’d eaten at their restaurant! In fact, one of the batches I’d made a few weeks prior, in which I’d used ground allspice, guessing THAT was the secret ingredient, had more flavor than the official recipe!

One last time, braving Massachusetts drivers and Boston traffic, I returned to the restaurant, cookbook in hand, determined: they’d either tell me the missing “secret” ingredient, which was, I’m sure, “Oopsie! Just a silly little oversight!”; OR, hopefully, refund the purchase price of the cookbook.

Fortunately for me, they revealed the secret ingredient, but it took a waitress covertly leaning down, sweeping invisible crumbs off our table, surreptitiously whispering, “Ginger. Powdered. And lots of it.” With a grin and a wink, she laughed, “First time I’ve ever given a tip to a customer”.

Sure enough! That was the missing ingredient! I’ve continued to use my own little “secret” ingredient – ground allspice. If you want the original tastes-like-Durgin Park Baked Beans, leave the allspice out. But personally? I think I out-beaned the Yankees.

Another benefit of making my own beans, is I can control their potential….side effects. There’s no delicate way to state this – for “gas-free beans”, soak them in water, at room temperature, for no less than 24 hours, changing the water 2-3 times. (Do this with ALL your beans, by the way, no matter what you’re making for the same wonderful result.)

Germinating Pic 250 Don’t be surprised, if the beans germinate. This is perfectly normal, and is, in fact, a good way to test your legumes, seeds, and grains for freshness. Germination may occur as quickly as 12 hours, but usually takes longer. Lentils, mung beans, garbanzos and small navy beans sprout more quickly than larger varieties. If your beans are not germinated with a 24-hour soak period, you may continue for another 12-hours, making sure to change the soak water.

If a tail “sprouts”, be sure to use the beans before the tail grows longer than 1/3 of the bean’s length. This is the point of maximum nutrition. If allowed to grow longer, all the nutrients in the bean will be consumed by the new little plant.

Germinated beans are more easily digestible, as the sugars and proteins are broken down, thus, the reason they’re more “user friendly”. Germinated or not, parboil the beans for 10-minutes, before adding them to your bean pot for baking.

I use whey in the 2nd soak. If I don’t have whey available, I use 1 ounce of 3% hydrogen peroxide (food grade) diluted in 1 cup of water. Both these are good sanitizing agents reducing aflatoxins and other unhealthy substances.

Boston Baked Beans – Gas-Free Version (must create a better name!)

This recipe easily doubles. In fact, if I’m going to have the oven on, I prefer to double or even triple this recipe, because the final product freezes remarkably well. I have provided suggestions for adjusting individual components. Of course, continue to adjust to fit your own taste, and enjoy!

1 lb dried organic small navy beans
4 oz. whey from kefir, yogurt, or Quark
12 cups cold water
1/2 pound smoked ham hock or bacon (if doubling, do not exceed 1 lb meat)
1 medium organic whole onion, diced (if tripling, do not exceed 2 medium onions)
4 T Muscovado or Rapadura brown sugar (if doubling recipe, use 1/3 cup brown sugar)
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses (if doubling recipe, only use 1/2 cup total molasses)
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp powdered organic ginger
1/2 tsp powdered organic allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

  1. Soak beans 10-12 hours covered in cold water. Drain.
  2. Add fresh soaking water along with 4 oz whey.
  3. Soak overnight or for another 10-12 hours.
  4. Drain. Rinse.
  5. Place in a pan, cover with water and heat, bring to a low boil and cook for 10-minutes.
  6. Reserve 2 cups of water used to parboil beans.
  7. Place smoked pork hock and onions in bottom of bean pot (or any other type of container that has a lid)
  8. Spoon beans into bean pot.
  9. Mix remaining ingredients with reserved bean water, stirring well.
  10. Pour molasses mixture over beans.
  11. If needed, add additional water to make liquid cover just the top of the beans.
  12. Cover, bake 275°F oven for 5 hours, adding water as necessary. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Further Reading

Only Two Companies in US Confirm Using BPA-Free Cans

An additional benefit of not liking canned foods is that industrial cans have a plastic lining containing the chemical, Bisphenol-A (BPA). For years, the FDA said it was “safe”. But then it was discovered there was conflict of interest, as the person responsible for the study worked for the plastics industry. No bias there!:

…could safely invest a million times levels currently found in products. However that study was widely criticized in October 2008 by dozens of actual scientists (versus “scientific and government bodies”, whatever CODEX-friendly creature that would be). It turned out that the person who wrote the FDA study was an insider from the plastics industry. This is clearly fraud and the people responsible should be prosecuted. Natural News

I’ve probably made an acre’s worth of baked beans over the years, delighting in how something so tasty, can also be nutritious:

Small white navy beans are another version of Great Northern Beans. So named because of their extensive use in the U.S. Navy’s dietary program, navy beans can be used in any recipe calling for white beans. Oblong and cream-colored, they work especially well in soups, stews, or as a main course, with corn bread. Navy beans commonly are the base for Boston baked beans. Key nutrients include protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, phosophorous, calcium, iron, inc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, thiamine, folate, and small amounts of lipids and amino acids. Phytochemicals include beta-carotene. Prescription for Dietary Wellness, p. 121