Sunday, February 27, 2011

Grandma's baked beans (in the crock pot)...

Do you ever get a hankerin' for foods that you remember from childhood?  My Grandma Schumacher was a wonderful cook who made all kinds of hearty, traditional foods.  One of those foods that she was well known for was baked beans.  She would bake them for hours in a large roaster until they were softened just right.  I know it breaks with tradition since baked beans are to be baked, not slow cooked in a crock pot, but wouldn't it be nice to be able to make Grandma's soft, creamy-brown baked beans without having to heat the oven all day?  My friend, Mert, recently shared this recipe with me that was just the ticket.  And was it ever delicious!

Boston Baked Beans (in the crock pot)
by Diane Unger-Mahoney (and Mert)

1 pound navy beans, soaked in cold water 8-12 hours
1/2 t. baking soda
2 bay leaves
4 oz. salt pork (I used ham or would use bacon)
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 c. plus 2 T. molasses
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 c. boiling water
1 T. Dijon mustard
2 t. cider vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Set slow cooker to high to preheat.  Drain soaked beans and transfer to a Dutch oven.  Add 8 cups water, baking soda, and bay leaves.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and use a wide spoon to skim off any foam.  Boil 15 minutes.  Drain beans and transfer to crock pot.  Discard bay leaves. 

While beans are cooking in Dutch oven, fry the salt pork (bacon or ham) to render the fat and then add chopped onions and cook until lightly browned.  Transfer to the crock pot.  Stir in 1/4 c. molasses, brown sugar and the boiling water. 

Cover beans with a piece of aluminum foil, then cover slow cooker with the lid.  Set crock pot to low and cook until beans are tender and creamy, 10-12 hours.  (You may cook on high for 5-6 hours)

Turn off slow cooker and remove lid and foil.  Stir in remaining 2 T. molasses, mustard, and vinegar and season with salt & pepper to taste.  Cover slow cooker with lid and let beans sit until sauce has slightly thickened, 15-20 min.  Serves 4-6

*It is said that slow cookers are notorious for failing to soften baked beans so by placing a layer of foil over the beans, it helps to keep the heat at the bottom of the pot and in the beans rather than letting the heat rise to the lid.  This step shaves off hours of cooking time.

The result?  Just like Grandma's!  She used to serve her beans with malt vinegar.  Shake a little on.  MMMmmmm.

Do you know the poem?

Beans, beans the magical fruit,
The more you eat, the more you toot,
The more you toot, the better you feel
So why not have beans at every meal?


  1. Ha! Yes I know that little ditty. I'd say more but it might be more information than anyone wants to know. This recipe is one I want to try. We love to have baked beans with our smoked meat but I've never made them from scratch...always from a can.

  2. Mmmmmm, looks good ;)!

  3. Yum! You crack me up with your poem.

  4. That looks like a great recipe Jodi! And I can't believe you posted that song -- you crack me up!!!

  5. Oh, the beans look beautiful and VERY tasty! What else did Grandma cook?

  6. I am trying to use my crockpot more, I will try this xoxo Clarice

  7. Every now and then I crave for something that reminds me of my childhood. And the feeling is so intense that I can almost feel the smell and flavor of that particular thing. This recipe sounds amazing. I’m going to try it soon. Thanks for sharing it.

  8. Looks yummy. I like the crockpot variation, as I avoid using my gas oven for long bake times. Nothing satisfies quite like Grandma's comfort foods.

    PS: LOL @ the ditty. Yes, I remember it well. (I have a younger brother)!


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