Ginger Molasses Baked Beans from Scratch
Food and Drink

Courtesy of Chef Sally Cameron,

Ginger Molasses Baked Beans from Scratch

"To make a fast version of this recipe, use 56 ounces of canned baked vegetarian beans such as Bush’s and add your own bacon, onion and spices. For extra smoky flavor, use smoked spices as well. For a vegetarian or vegan version, skip the bacon and sauté with a little olive oil. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of this recipe. It’s harder to explain!"

Serves: 8

1 pound heirloom dried beans such as Goat’s Eye, Yellow Indian Woman or Jacob’s Cattle

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 medium onion, diced or chopped fine

1 large carrot, diced or chopped fine

1 large celery rib, diced or chopped fine

1 large clove of garlic, minced fine

1 large dried bay leaf (preferably Turkish)

3–4 slices of bacon, preferably applewood smoked and nitrate free, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

2–3 garlic cloves, finely minced or use a garlic press

2 tablespoons jarred ginger puree, preferably organic

1/2 cup unsulphured organic molasses

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 1/2 cups ketchup, preferably organic (optional)

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 tablespoon Balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher or sea salt

1/2–3/4 teaspoon smoked black pepper (or regular, but the smoked adds great flavor)

1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or regular, but the smoked adds great flavor)

PLACE beans in a strainer, rinse and remove any broken pieces, stones or debris. Place beans in a large container and cover with several inches of filtered (not tap) water. Dried beans absorb a lot of water. Cover and refrigerate overnight. 

IN a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion, celery and carrot until soft. Add the garlic clove and cook another minute. Add bay leaf and soaked beans, water and all. No need to drain the beans (per the bean experts at Rancho Gordo). 

BRING to a boil. Boil beans for 5 minutes, then turn heat to low, partially cover and cook at a gentle simmer for 2–3 hours until the beans are tender. Check your beans occasionally to make sure they are covered with a little water. If needed, add hot filtered water (not tap water). When beans are tender, cool and refrigerate or drain and continue with the recipe. 

PREHEAT your oven to 325°F. In a large heavy pot, fry the bacon until crisp. Drain off most of the bacon fat (do not wash the pan) and set bacon aside on paper towels until needed. In the hot pan cook the onion until soft. Add the garlic and ginger and cook another 1 minute.

ADD the beans, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegars, spices and crispy bacon. Stir beans to blend, cover with a tight fitting lid. Bake for approximately 1 hour. Test beans to be sure they are tender and cooked. If needed, add up to another 1/2 cup of ketchup to make them more saucy. Enjoy baked beans hot or warm. They reheat well.