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Updated: Feb 15, 2020

The last few weeks have felt like I have been stuck in a whirlwind. I just keep spinning and spinning. The holidays are always busy with baking goodies, visiting family, and preparing for the new year. My husband jokingly calls this the year of perfect vision, 2020 vision. When he first told me this I began to think he was becoming a man with a vision. Boy, was I wrong. This year I also decided to can a batch of baked beans, right in the middle of it. I am not sure what I was thinking.

My oldest son loves Boston Baked Beans. It has been his dream for years to make our own. My oldest son kind of wishes that he was born a hundreds of years ago. He loves studying history and reenacting. We are part of Fort Phil Kearney Regulars, where we reenact and teach the public about the Wyoming history. He also dreamed of making his own salt pork to take with him to his reenactments.

Two years ago we decided the best way to start would be to grow our own dried beans. We ordered the seed and planted them. Everything was going great tell a hailstorm took out our garden. But these things happen so we moved on.

Last year we did not grow much in our garden in hopes of focusing on growing most of our own meat. Purchasing locally grown, pasture raised meat can take a lot out of one’s grocery budget. Our family decided if we could raise the meat on our own then we could purchase most of our veggies locally and still save some money. So last year we raised 36 Cornish Cross Chickens. Thirteen of then we froze whole and twenty-three I pieced to give us a total of 267 pounds of pasture raised chickens. We also raised our first pig on our property. She was a Kunekune heritage pig. I will tell you why we chose this breed later. She gave us 70 pounds of pasture raised pork. My husband also harvested a deer off our property in November, which gave us 60 more pounds. My mother in law gave us a quarter of beef in December that we processed ourselves. My little Kitchen Aide Meat Grinder Attachment got a workout this year.

Back to the baked beans, we decided to purchase the navy beans. Another of the ingredients is salt pork. Salt pork is not something that we can easily find in our modern grocery stores of today. We decided to make our own to use in this recipe. Amazingly this is just pork pieces layered with lots of salt and placed in a crock and covered with a salt brine. I purchased a Ohio Stoneware crock to store it in. It has turned out amazing. I keep going down to check it thinking the meat has surely gone bad, but it hasn’t. I am learning to embrace the old ways of storing food!

I started with the recipe in my Ball Blue Book, guide to preserving. I am one who does not follow recipes to the letter. For one thing I like to cook in big batches. Why make a bunch of little batches when one huge batch will save me time and washing dishes. Have I mentioned that I hate washing dishes! Secondly my family is picky and I only like to use produce I can grow or purchase locally. So I tweaked this recipe a little. First thing I did was double it. But I wasn’t sure if we would like the mustard flavor so I didn’t double that. Secondly, my son likes his beans sweet so we added more molasses and brown sugar. Thirdly, I decided to soak the beans over night to rid them of their gaseous affects. Lastly, I decided to use my electric Roaster for the beans because when you go big everything is just bigger and I didn’t like the idea of trying to lift the beans in and out of my oven. I did not mess with the canning process. It is very important to follow your pressure cookers instructions.

Boston Baked Beans

2 quarts navy beans (about 4 pounds)

1 1/2 pounds of salt pork, cubed

3 large onions, diced

1 cup Brown Sugar

2 tsp. Salt

2tsp. Dried mustard

1 cup molasses

Put beans in a large sauce-pot; add water to cover by two inches. Bring beans to a boil; boil 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let beans soak over night or 24 hours. Drain and rinse several times. Cover beans with water by 2 inches in a large sauce-pot. Bring beans to a boil; reduce heat. Cover; simmer until skins begin to crack. Drain, reserving liquid. Pour beans in a baking dish, bean pot, or electric roaster. Add pork and onions. Combine remaining ingredients and 8 cups of reserved bean liquid (add water to make 8 cups if necessary). Ladle sauce over beans. Cover; bake at 350 degrees F for about 3 1/2 hours. Add water, if necessary, as beans should be “soupy’. Pack hot beans and sauce into hot jars, leaving 1 inch head-space. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two-piece caps. Process pints 1 hour and 20 minutes, quarts 1 hour and 35 minutes, a 10 pounds pressure in a steam-pressure canner. Please follow your pressure cooker instructions to the letter. Makes 7 quarts of beans.

Happy Canning!

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