Baked Beans – 18th Century Cooking Series at Jas Townsend and Son

Baked Beans – 18th Century Cooking Series at Jas Townsend and Son


Today we’re going to bake beans. Beans were
a common fare in the 18th century both for regular folks and part of the soldier’s
rations. We’re going to bake beans in the oven today then we’re going to bake beans
buried in a pit. It was common practice in New England for
the village baker to heat up his oven, bake his bread and other items and then at the
end of the day everyone would bring their bean pots and they’d put it in the oven
and it would stay in overnight to bake the beans. Especially on Saturday night so on
Sunday everyone had beans to eat and they didn’t have to work on the Sabbath. Soldiers didn’t have ovens to work with
so they’d have to use whatever they had on hand. We’re going to dig a hole so that
we can bake our beans inside of a fire pit, down inside the earth. We’re looking for a hole in the ground that’s
about twice as big as the pot we’re going to cook in and a little bit deeper than the
pot so that we can have coals underneath and on top. So while our oven is heating up, I’m
going to go ahead and start a fire in this pit. And while our fires are burning down to coals,
let’s talk about beans. Soaking your beans is a very good idea. It helps them cook for
a lot less time. You also should boil your beans. Dry beans have a toxin in them that
causes issues with digestion if they aren’t heated to the right temperature. If they’re
baked at a very low temperature, that doesn’t get rid of the toxins and you need to boil
them first. Well, we’ve had our beans boiling. These
have boiled for quite a while. You can boil them an hour or whatever it takes to get them
nice and soft and ready to bake. We’re going to use two different methods of baking. We’re
going to flavor these two batches in two different ways.
Let’s divide our beans up into our two different cooking vessels. We have our new red ware
bean pot that you can find on our website. We also are going to use one of our two quart
pots and we have one of these new metal lids for them that are available that will be perfect
for this sort of operation. Anyway, let’s get these divided out. First thing we’re going to put into these,
they’re both going to get some salt pork. You can use authentic style salt pork like
we cover in one of our videos. You can also use bacon or salt pork that you find in the
grocery store but they’re both rather greasy, fatty, so you would want to cut back on how
much you’d use. If you use authentic salt pork you want to make sure to soak it for
an hour or two to reduce the saltiness. Now we’re going to put in mustard in both
of these. Dry mustard is very common. You see it in almost every recipe for baked beans, and we’re going to need a good, big spoonful in each one of these pots. Both our beans recipes use a sweetener. In this one we’re going to use a molasses, and this one some
maple syrup, both of those are very common sweeteners. We’re going to use about a cup.
You’ll want to use a Barbados molasses; you don’t want to use blackstrap. Barbados
molasses or light molasses is going to have a lot better taste than blackstrap which is
very bitter. And for the maple beans, you want to make sure to use about a half a cup
of authentic maple syrup. And in both pots,a quarter teaspoon of pepper here, not one of these spoons, or you’ll do too much, so don’t go crazy with pepper. And we need
some onions in here. We’re going to use about half of these, maybe a half a cup or
a quarter cup of onions. You want to get all this stuff mixed well, pushed down to the bottom and mixed well. Let’s get both of these stirred up.
Now let’s top these up with water. Don’t be afraid to put too much water in. It’s
going to bake off so you want to have both of these topped off with water. Okay, there we go, should be enough water. Our fires, both places, look like they’re ready to go. Let’s start with our oven baked beans first. Our oven’s good and hot. In a previous video
we’ve shown you how to build one of these ovens and how to fire it and bake bread in
it. We actually suggest you go ahead and bake bread in the oven before you put beans in
it. You don’t want it to be too hot. We’re going to let these beans bake. You
can bake them in an oven like this for 4 or 6, 8 hours, even 12 hours, the longer the
better and they really start to taste good. You might want to check them after just a
couple of hours to make sure there’s still some liquid in there. You don’t want them baking out too dry, you might need to add a little water. We’ve got to make some room in our fire
pit to put this other pot down inside the coals. You want to make sure you’ve got coals on
all side, coals on the bottom, hot coals all the way around each side, then you want to
have a little rock that you can put on top of the lid, make sure it doesn’t get knocked
off, now we’re going to put coals up on top. We’re going to go ahead and build a
fire up on top of this so it’s got more heat. The beans have been in here about 3 or 4 hours
so we’re going to go ahead and pull them out now. They could probably cook a lot longer
but let’s get these out of here. Well let’s take a look. Looks, whoa, they
look really good. These have cooked for about 4 hours so they’re ready to eat right now.
If we want them to be even better, we can let them cook longer. Another 4 hours or even
another 8 hours and they’ll really start to darken up, but these are ready to eat just
like this. These maple beans have been in the embers
for several hours. I think they’re done, let’s take them out. There we have our molasses baked beans and
our maple flavored baked beans. Both of these we let cook for quite a while. There’s a
lot of latitude here in how long we’re going to bake our beans. They’ve already been
precooked when we put them in. They’ve already been boiled, so you know, they’re only going
to get softer and better tasting the longer you cook them. We put in the raw salt pork,
so you’re definitely going to want to make sure that gets cooked so you want to bake
them at least two hours at the very bare minimum. Four hours is good, and all the way up to
12 hours. They’re only going to get tasting a little bit better, you just need to check
on their moisture levels occasionally, make sure they don’t get too dry.
Another hint on this, on these bean pots, when you’re using, especially the molasses,
they want to boil over and then this molasses stuff gets stuck between the lid of the pot
and the body and they can be really hard to get off. You don’t want to break your pot
and break the lid, so you want to either grease this lid here so it doesn’t get stuck or
you want to make sure to wipe those down when you check on the moisture level. These beans have a flavor that you cannot
get anyplace else. I really recommend you try a couple of these bean recipes. They’re
really good. Good food is really important. The public is going to be more interested
in food when you’ve got really good food in your cooking. Recruits, if you want people
to join your group, really good food is what’s going to bring them in. That’s a really
important part and you want to have fun when you’re reenacting and probably the most
important part of having fun is having really good food, so I encourage everyone to do more
period cooking at events. I think you’ll really enjoy it. On our website you can find
all kinds of great period cooking things, equipment and eating supplies. We have a lot
of different kinds of clothing, so make sure to check out our online catalog. You can get
one of our printed catalogs and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook.

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