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Summertime Baked Beans: Vegan Style

Patty enjoys cooking for family and friends. She creates simple and satisfying treats from old family recipes.

Vegan baked beans

Vegan baked beans

My Favorite Recipe

This is one of my favorite recipes, and it is one that is requested for every summer picnic or potluck. The dish is simple to make; the key is to remember to soak the beans the night before. I have tried boiling the dried beans without soaking them first because I forgot to put them in the pot the night before but I have never been fully satisfied with this method. The beans never quite soften like I think they should.

Cook Time

Prep timeCook timeReady inYields

50 min

2 hours 30 min

3 hours 20 min

18 servings (1/2 cup per serving)

This recipe calls for simple ingredients. You should be able to find everything at your local grocery store.

This recipe calls for simple ingredients. You should be able to find everything at your local grocery store.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried great northern beans
  • 1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 4 cups tomato juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Beans Are a Plant-Based Food

Choosing to be vegan is a lifestyle change. Plant-based foods are readily available—the challenge is learning to cook with them properly. I am not vegan, but I do tend to steer away from animal products more than I used to as I increasingly prefer the taste and texture of plant-based foods.

Who Needs Bacon?

Beans are packed with protein, potassium, iron, and calcium. A one-cup serving of beans gives you a whopping 14 percent of your daily need for protein. So, who needs bacon?

Instructions

  1. Rinse the beans, cover with cold water and soak overnight.
  2. Drain the beans and cover with fresh water. Bring the beans to a boil and cook for 35 minutes or until the beans are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. Combine the brown sugar, tomato juice and seasonings. Pour this liquid over the beans. Stir together.
  4. Put the bean mixture into a 13x9 inch baking dish and cover.
  5. Bake at 300 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. If the beans become dry you can add hot water or more tomato juice.
  6. Remove the foil cover during the last 30 minutes of baking. Allow beans to stand for 30 minutes to thicken before serving.

The History of Baked Beans

Baked beans was a dish created by indigenous North American tribes who mixed beans with maple syrup. The dish was adopted by the American colonists.

Today, there are literally hundreds of recipes for baked beans. The American version is thicker and sweeter, using molasses or brown sugar. The United Kingdom version is a thinner sauce that is stewed, not baked like the colonists preferred.

While canned baked beans are steamed beans, baked beans are first soaked in water to soften them, par-boiled and then baked in a slow oven.

While the beans were baking in the oven, the spicy, sweet aroma of cloves mingled with the earthy pungent smell of horseradish carried through the kitchen and I just wanted to open the oven door and dig in.

While the beans were baking in the oven, the spicy, sweet aroma of cloves mingled with the earthy pungent smell of horseradish carried through the kitchen and I just wanted to open the oven door and dig in.

Baked Beans Were a Picnic Favorite

I remember the summer picnics our family shared under the tall oak trees shading the mountainside pavilions of Blue Knob State Park, a popular hot weather destination in south central Pennsylvania.

The kids waded in the icy cold tumbling waters of Bob's Creek while the men paired off for a friendly game of horseshoes. Women in big aprons, shooed away little children trying to sneak a cookie before Uncle Fred said grace over the noon meal.

Cool mountain breezes gave respite to the sticky, hot July weather and as the noon hour approached, the bowls, roasting pans, crocks and glassware kept coming. By the time everything was set out on the long line of picnic tables, there was a full row of main dishes like meatloaf, meatballs, lasagna and chicken. There were side dishes, macaroni and potato salad, fruit salads and desserts.

Baked beans though, had its own row. The variations were countless. Some dishes were sweet and others were super sweet. There were dishes made from canned beans and others from dried beans. Some had been cooked together with meat, like bacon or ham and others were meatless.

There was no doubt though as to which dish of baked beans was the best one. It was always the one that emptied first. So you better be first in line.

summertime-baked-beans

© 2022 Patty Poet

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