This Boston baked beans recipe infuses white beans with a savory sweet broth made from molasses, brown sugar, salt pork, and onions. It is baked in the oven and then pressure canned for shelf-stable jars.
Having a variety of home canned soups, chiles, beans, and ready to eat meals is a great way to stock your pantry shelves. When things get too busy to cook, or the refrigerator is bare, it is handy to grab a jar and heat it up for a quick and delicious meal.
I learned a hard lesson when attempting to stock up on food when grocery store runs were limited. I purchased canned soups and baked beans online thinking that it would be great to have on hand just in case. We opened a few of these cans to taste them before deciding to purchase more. I am so glad we did. They were terrible.
I often make large batches of soups, stews, chilis, beans, and freeze the extras, but freezer space is limited right now. So this year, I decided to pressure can more convenience meals to store on the shelf instead of the freezer.
First on my list is this Boston Baked Beans canning recipe since I had a lot of dried beans in storage. Unfortunately, dried beans don’t last forever. They have about a year before they begin to get tough and need longer cooking times to soften. Canning dried beans can double their shelf life.
Turning the dried beans into ready to heat and eat jars of Boston-style baked beans is another way to add variety to your pantry shelves.
Tips for Canning Baked Beans
Pressure canning homemade baked beans is a great way to meal prep. You can control the quality of the ingredients and eliminate the chemicals, preservatives, and amount of salt found in commercially processed cans.
When home canning beans, salt is optional as a flavoring and is not required for safe canning. I like to can without salt, and then add it to taste when preparing the meal. Here are more tips for canning baked beans:
Use a Tested Safe Canning Recipe
Canning, even when using a pressure canner is a science. In order to safely can baked beans, you need to use an updated, tested recipe provided by a reliable science-based source.
This Boston Baked Beans canning recipe is adapted from The Ball Blue Book of Preserving “Beans – Boston Baked.” It has been adapted for a full canner load of 9 pint sized jars. The ratio of ingredients is maintained, seasoning adjusted slightly, and the cooking and pressure canning process is the same.
Allow Plenty of Time
This recipe is an all day process. Plan your time carefully so you don’t end up canning late into the night. Yes, I am speaking from experience 🙂
You need to rehydrate the beans, combine the ingredients, bake the beans in the oven, and process the jars in a pressure canner. Count on about 2 hours to soak and partially cook the beans, 3-4 hours for baking, and at least 2 hours for pressure canning to allow the canner to come up to pressure, process, and cool down before opening.
Most of the time spent on this recipe is hands-off time, so you can do other things while the beans are soaking, baking, and processing. You should be available to check about halfway through baking to add liquid if needed to prevent the beans from drying out.
Types of Dried Beans
This recipe uses small navy beans, also called pea beans, but any type of dried white bean can be used to make baked beans.
Use a Pressure Canner
Dried beans are low acid foods and need to be canned with a pressure canner. I use a Presto 16-quart pressure canner. It fits under my stove hood, and is light enough for me to lift off the stove without help.
Steps to Home Can Boston Baked Beans
If you are new to canning or haven’t canned in a while, it may be helpful to review this article on pressure canning at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website.
A more detailed and printable recipe can be found at the bottom of this article, but these are the general steps for pressure canning Boston Baked Beans:
Step 1: Gather Your Kitchen Equipment
- Pressure canner
- 9 pint sized canning jars
- Canning lids and bands
- Canning tools: lid lifter, jar lifter, canning ladle, funnel, and bubble popper
- Plus basic kitchen supplies such as a large pot, colander, small pot, 13×9 baking pan, cutting board, knife, and kitchen towels.
Step 2: Prepare the Beans
Sort through the dry beans and pick out stones or damaged beans. Rinse the beans well and place them in a large pot. Add enough water to cover the dried beans about 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
After the soaking time, drain the beans in a large colander, rinse the pot and return the beans to the pot.
Cover the beans with fresh water, place the pot on the stove, and bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let the beans simmer until the skins begin to crack.
Step 3: Bake the Beans
Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
Drain the beans saving the cooking liquid. You can scoop out the beans with a slotted spoon or small mesh strainer, or drain through a colander into a prep bowl or large pot.
Add the drained beans to an 8-quart Dutch oven, or divide into two large 13x9x2 inch-baking pans.
Spread the salt pork or bacon, onions, and bay leaves over the beans.
In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the bean water (add water if needed), molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt. Pour over the beans.
Cover and bake in a preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours. Stir every hour or so, and add water if needed to keep the beans soupy.
Step 4: Prepare the Canning Equipment
With any canning project, you need to begin with clean, warm jars and lids. Check the jars over carefully for nicks and cracks. Damaged jars will break in the pressure canner. Wash the jars and lids with warm, soapy water and rinse well.
Add the jars to the canning rack in the pressure canner. It helps if you fill the jars partway with water to keep them upright. Fill the canner with water, and bring the canner to a boil over high heat. Boil the jars for 10 minutes, and then reduce the heat to keep the jars warm.
Warm your lids in a small pot of water over low heat according to the manufacturer’s directions. Keep everything warm until you are ready to can.
Step 5: Can the Baked Beans
Remove the baking pans from the oven and fill the jars with the baked beans and bean liquid leaving 1-inch headspace. Try to aim for about 1-inch of the bean liquid over the beans. This seems to help prevent liquid from siphoning out.
Run your bubble popper through the jars to remove air bubbles, clean the rims, cover, and process in a pressure canner for the proper times indicated below. Let the canner cool, remove the jars, and let them cool completely.
Wash the jars well with soapy water, label, date, and store the jars of Boston Baked Beans in a cool location. Use within a year.
To use, empty the jar into a saucepan and heat on the stove. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.
Boston Baked Beans Canning Recipe
Prepare the Beans:
- Sort through the dry beans and pick out stones or damaged beans. Rinse the beans well and place them in a large pot.
- Add enough water to cover the dried beans about 2-inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let the beans soak for 1 hour.
- After the soaking time, drain the beans in a large colander, rinse the pot and return the beans to the pot.
- Cover the beans with fresh water, place the pot on the stove, and bring the beans to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and let the beans simmer until the skins begin to crack, about 30 minutes. Stir the beans occasionally to prevent sticking and add warm water if needed to keep the beans covered.
Bake the Beans:
- Preheat the oven to 350˚F.
- Drain the beans saving the cooking liquid. Add the drained beans to an 8-quart Dutch oven, or divide into two large 13x9x2 inch-baking pans.
- Spread the salt pork or bacon, onions, and bay leaves over the beans.
- In a large bowl, combine 4 cups of the bean water (add water if needed), molasses, brown sugar, dry mustard, and salt. Pour over the beans.
- Cover and bake in a preheated oven for 3 1/2 hours. Stir every hour or so, and add water if needed to keep the beans soupy.
Prepare the Canning Equipment:
- Wash the canning jars and lids in warm, soapy water and rinse well. Place the jar rack into the pressure canner, set the clean jars in the canner, add water to the jars and fill canner to around 3-inches. Cover and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize.
- Warm the lids in a small pot of water over low heat. Keep jars and lids warm until they are ready to use.
Can the Baked Beans:
- Spread a kitchen towel on the counter. Use the jar lifter to remove the warm jars from the canner, drain, and line up on the towel.
- Remove the baked beans from the oven and give everything a good stir to combine. Pluck out and discard the bay leaves. The beans should be soupy in order for the heat to penetrate evenly though the jar. If you need to add water, use the hot water from the small pot you used to warm your lids.
- Use the canning funnel and ladle to fill the jars with the baked beans and bean liquid leaving 1-inch headspace. Aim for about 1-inch of the bean liquid over the beans while maintaining a 1-inch headspace from the rim of the jar. This seems to help prevent liquid loss during the pressure canning process.
- Run the bubble popper through the jar to remove air bubbles and wipe the rims. Use the magnetic lid lifter to lift lids out of the warm water, center lid on the jar, and screw on band until it is fingertip tight.
- Use your jar lifter to place the jars into pressure canner on the canning rack. Leave space in between the jars. Once the jars are all in canner, adjust the water level per your pressure canner's instructions. If adding water, use the hot water from the small pot you used to warm your lids.
- Process pint jars of baked beans at 10 pounds of pressure for 80 minutes (1 hour and 20 minutes) at altitudes of less than 1,000 ft. Follow the directions for your pressure canner and adjust processing time for your altitude if necessary.
- When the processing time is complete, turn off the heat and allow pressure canner to de-pressure on its own (approximately 1 hour).
- Once the canner is at zero pressure, wait 5 minutes, unlock, and remove the cover by tilting the lid away from you so that steam does not burn your face. Let the canner set for another 10 minutes.
- Spread a dry kitchen towel on the counter. Use a jar lifter to lift jars carefully from canner and place on the towel.
- Let the jars cool undisturbed for about 12-hours. You should hear a "ping" as the jar lids seal.
- After 12-hours, check to be sure jar lids have sealed by pushing on the center of the lid. The lid should not pop up. If the lid flexes up and down, it did not seal. Refrigerate the jar and use up within a few days.
- Once cool, remove the screw on bands and wash the jars. Label, date, and store your jars in a cool, dark place and use within 12-18 months. Yields about 9 pints of Boston Baked Beans depending on the size of your beans.
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