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Baked Beans Month
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Jan 2, 2008, 09:00 PST

Baked Beans Month

Baked beans have been popular in North America since before the Pilgrims landed on the eastern shores. Although many people think of Boston as the birthplace of the recipe, according to the National Restaurant Association, the Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroquois Indians created the first baked bean recipes.

The critical ingredient, maple syrup, was discovered by the Iroquois. According to legend, a chief threw his tomahawk into a maple tree one winter evening. When he removed his weapon the next morning, sap began to flow. He tasted it and noticed a sweet taste, so he had his meat boiled in it that evening for dinner. When the sap was boiled the full, sweet maple taste was released. From then on Native Americans in the East set up “sugar camps” in the winter. The sap was collected in gourds, hollowed out logs, or clay pots. Then, according to the Montshire Museum of Science, the sap was boiled by dropping red-hot rocks into the containers.

According to the Food Reference Website, Native Americans later created baked bean recipes that featured maple syrup and bear fat. The beans were cooked in earthenware pots that were placed in pits and covered with hot rocks. Scholars believe the Pilgrims learned how to make baked beans from the Native Americans, although they began substituting molasses and pork fat for the maple syrup and bear fat. This dish was perfect for the Pilgrim household. Pilgrim women were not allowed to cook on Sunday, because of their religious beliefs, and the baked beans could be cooked the night before and kept warm until the next morning.

During colonial days, Boston became famous for baked beans, hence the Boston Baked Beans that we’ve all heard of, and the reason that Boston received the nickname of “Beantown.” Boston Online, said that the city was virtually drowning in molasses, and the locals had to find a solution.

Boston was involved in what was called triangular trade: Caribbean slaves grew sugar cane, the sugar cane was sent to Boston and made into rum, the rum was sent to West Africa to buy more slaves to send to the Caribbean to work in the sugar cane fields. So if the molasses weren’t being used for rum, it was being used to make baked beans. Today, there isn’t a single company in Boston that makes baked beans, and only a few places in the city still serve them. A piece of history seems to have been all but lost in Boston.

Learn more in our companion article: As American As... Baked Beans


Classic Baked Beans - Boston-Style
Source: ClassBrain

Classic Baked Bean Recipes

New England Baked Beans
Nantucket Baked Beans

Barbecued Baked Beans
Weird and Wonderful Baked Bean Recipes
Tropical Baked Beans
Wild Mushroom Baked Beans

Source: Bean Education & Awareness Network (B.E.A.N.)

� B & M Baked Beans
Cooking With Canned Baked Beans
The All American Bean Bake - a ClassBrain feature recipe Cheesy Bean Dip
Garden Bean Salad
Special Bean Chili
Vegetarian Bean Chowder
Source: B & M Baked Beans

Additional Learning Links on Baked Beans

Montshire Minute: Maple Syrup
Learn all about the history, collection, and processing of maple syrup.
Source: Montshire Museum of Science

Michigan Beans
This quick look at one of Michigan's primary agricultural products covers the nutritional value of the bean, as well as its origins, and tips for using them.
Source: The Michigan Department of Agriculture

Roger Williams’ Boston Baked Bean Recipe
This recipe from Boston-Online is one of the few remaining remnants of a long history linking Boston and baked beans.
Source: Boston-Online

Spillin’ the Beans
Learn everything there is to know about beans: which beans are which, how to prepare them, and how to cook them.
Source: American Dry Bean Board

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