Packed FULL of flavor and easy to make in your slow cooker!
And a little history lesson about the day a molasses flash flood hit the streets of Boston. Seriously.
It was 95 years ago. A massive storage tank (50 feet tall/90 feet wide) holding sticky thick molasses suddenly burst. It sent nearly 2.5 MILLION GALLONS of molasses down the streets of Boston! The highest wave of molasses reached 25 feet at its peak and came rushing at a speed of 35 miles per hour. People and horses, waist high in molasses, struggled to move. To imagine the scene would almost be comical were it not for the fact that it left disaster in its wake with over 100 injuries and nearly two dozen deaths. It took two weeks with 300 people at a total of 87,000 man-hours to clean it up. To put that into perspective, that’s 10 years of around-the-clock work for one person. This almost century-ago tragedy became known as the Boston Molasses Disaster, truly one of the strangest disasters in American history. Boston folklore has it that on some hot Summer nights you can still catch the scent of molasses in the air.
You may be wondering, why on earth was there a tank holding so much molasses – 2.5 million gallons – in the first place?? Molasses is something that most of us have in our kitchen cupboards but rarely use. On average most of us probably go through less than a jar per year. But that’s today. A century and more ago, molasses was the most common sweetener used. And it was even used for making…beans. Boston gets its nickname “Beantown” from a favorite dish popular since Colonial times: Beans baked for several hours in…you got it – molasses!
Boston baked beans still traditionally call for molasses. This recipe stays true to form and also includes maple syrup, brown sugar, cloves, mustard, and of course salt pork for a hearty batch of Boston baked beans so full of flavor the taste and aroma will have you coming back for seconds!
Let’s get started!
You’ll need a pound of dried white beans.
Soak them in water overnight, rinse and drain them. For a quicker method, place the dried beans in a large pot of water, at least 4 inches above the beans. Bring it to a boil and let it boil for 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with recipe as instructed.
Dice up the salt pork (or bacon) into 1/4 inch cubes.
Spread out 1/2 of the salt in the bottom of the slow cooker. Use the fattiest pieces on the bottom.
Next add 1/2 of the beans, then all of the onion and the bay leaf.
Add the remaining beans and the rest of the salt pork.
Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a bowl. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the liquid over the beans. It should just cover them. Cover and cook on “LOW” for 8 hours.
Add salt and brown sugar to taste.
- 1 pound dried white beans, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained (see Note for quick method)
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1½ cups)
- ½ pound salt pork, cut into ¼ inch pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- ⅓ cup molasses
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ⅓ cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups hot water
- Spread out half of the salt pork on the bottom of the slow cooker. Use the fattiest pieces. Add half of the beans, then all of the onions, then the bay leaf. Add the remaining beans, then the salt pork.
- In a bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, adding the water last after the other ingredients have been stirred until combined. Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.
- Pour the liquid mixture over the beans. They should be just covered. Shut the lid of the slow cooker and cook on the "LOW" setting for 8 hours. Add salt and brown sugar to taste.