Origins of Baked Beans

When you think of baked beans, do you think cheap campfire food and memories that will last a lifetime? Or maybe that mom always made them for a cookout? You would probably be surprised to learn that baked beans are a delicacy in some parts of the world.

In China and other countries, a can of baked beans is an expensive, rare commodity to be treasured. This value is, of course, a stark contract to where it falls in the US, on the bottom shelf of the canned food section at dirt cheap prices.

Then didn’t always come in a can though. Originally the beans were baked in cast iron or a ceramic pot, hence the name “baked beans.” Today, however, most recipes more resemble a stew.

The tradition of cooking them over a campfire was said to have originated in Maine. Ready for this? “Bean Hole Cooking” was a common practice at the logging camps. They would dig a deep pit in the ground, line it with stones and build a fire with coals. The fire was allowed to burn out and then eleven pounds of seasoned beans were placed on top. The whole thing was covered in dirt and allowed to cook for a day or longer!

Today, there are just about as many recipes and styles for baked beans as there is barbecue sauce. Boston-style usually features molasses or maple syrup for a richer flavor of sweetness. The East coast, however, likes to add yellow mustard for a tangier flavor in the final dish. It is most common for all recipes to feature pork, bacon, or pork lard in the recipe known as pork and beans.

Whichever style of baked beans you like the best, one thing is for certain – this American meal has a history of bringing people together and feeding a crowd. Grab your spoon and dig in, it’s time to spend some time enjoying your favorite style recipe with your favorite people.