Baked Bean Lore

Native Americans flavored their baked beans with maple syrup and bear fat, and baked them in earthenware pots placed in a pit and covered with hot rocks. The Pilgrims most likely learned how to make baked beans from the Native Americans, substituting molasses and pork fat for the maple syrup and bear fat.

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 pits and covered with hot rocks. Scholars believe that the Pilgrims learned how to make baked beans from the Native Americans, usually substituting molasses and pork fat for the maple syrup and bear fat. This dish was perfect for the Pilgrim household, because Pilgrim women were not allowed to cook on Sunday, because of their religious beliefs. The baked beans could be cooked the night before and kept warm until the next morning.

During colonial days, Boston became the place that was 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, says that the city was virtually drowning in molasses, and had to find a solution.

Boston 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 wasn’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.

By Cynthia Kirkeby

Four Bean
Baked Beans

From Linda Rossi

Four different beans


2 1/2 cups. - Butter Beans

1 can - Garbonzo Beans

1 can - Navy Beans

1 can - Kidney Beans

1 pound - ground beef

1 12 oz. bottle - BBQ sauce

1 cup - Brown Sugar



In a large skillet over medium heat warm the olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent.

Next add the vinegar to the pan and allow to reduce by ½.    

Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally until most of their liquid has evaporated.

Finally add the peppers and stir in the basil, olives and capers and simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Yield:  1 cup

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Interesting Facts!

Food Preparation Technique



Learn the technique from this video at The Food Network

Bell Peppers

Red bell peppers are sweet, juicy, colorful, and surprisingly nutritious: They are excellent sources of many essential nutrients. By weight, red peppers have three times as much vitamin C as citrus fruit. Moreover, red peppers are quite a good source of beta-carotene, and they offer a good amount of fiber and vitamin B6.

As bell peppers ripen on the vine, most varieties turn red and become sweeter. Bell peppers have no "bite" at all, since they contain a recessive gene that eliminates capsaicin, the substance that makes chili peppers hot. Instead, they have a mild tang (in red peppers, very mild indeed) and a crunchy texture that makes them suitable for eating raw. Their size, shape, and firmness allow them to be stuffed with all types of fillings
Source: Whole Health MD


French Bread that's been formed into a long, narrow cylindrical loaf. It usually has a crisp brown crust and light, chewy interior.