Mel’s Diner

Sharp Knives, Raw Meat and Fire


Carla from the fun named blog Chocolate Moosey is hosting this month’s Cookbook Challenge and in a twist has chosen Vintage Cookbooks as her theme.  Now, because she’s just a college kid, her definition of “vintage” is prior to 1980.  I’m tempted to go on and on about that (I started high school in 1980), but I won’t.  Ok, maybe a little….

1980?!?  My first car was a fairly new 1979 Olds Cutlass.  I was old enough to be interested in the 1980 Presidential election (remember John Anderson?).  1980 was the breakout year for Judas Priest.  Oy….

Anyway, obviously when I think vintage, I think a little bit older than 1980.  Way back in September, the theme for the WCC was favorite cookbooks and I confessed mine was The Fannie Farmer Cookbook.  Seeing no reason to abandon a sure bet, that’s my cookbook for this months Challenge, too – but, with a twist.  See, the recipe for this month’s challenge comes from the 1918 edition of her Boston Cooking-School Cookbook – the last one authored by Fannie Farmer herself.

What recipe to make?  Well, that was kind of a no brainier.  If you’re cooking from The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook, what else to make but Boston Baked Beans?  This recipe is found in the Pork section of the cookbook, so obviously the beans are there to compliment the salt pork, not the other way around.  Interesting little culinary tidbit, huh?

Boston Baked Beans 

Pick over one quart pea beans, cover with cold water, and soak over night. In morning, drain, cover with fresh water, heat slowly (keeping water below boiling-point), and cook until skins will burst,-which is best determined by taking a few beans on the tip of a spoon and blowing on them, when skins will burst if sufficiently cooked. Beans thus tested must, of course, be thrown away. Drain beans, throwing bean-water out of doors, not in sink. Scald rind of three-fourths pound fat salt pork, scrape, remove one-fourth inch slice and put in bottom of bean-pot. Cut through rind of remaining pork every one-half inch, making cuts one inch deep. Put beans in pot and bury pork in beans, leaving rind exposed. Mix one tablespoon salt, one tablespoon molasses, and three tablespoons sugar; add one cup boiling water, and pour over beans; then add enough more boiling water to cover beans. Cover bean-pot, put in oven, and bake slowly (Slowly?  What is that?  I chose 300 degrees because that’s what the new Fannie Farmer recipe says) six or eight hours, uncovering the last hour of cooking, that rind may become brown and crisp. Add water as needed. Many feel sure that by adding with seasonings one-half tablespoon mustard, the beans are more easily digested (I skipped the mustard). If pork mixed with lean is preferred, use less salt.

The fine reputation which Boston Baked Beans have gained has been attributed to the earthen bean-pot with small top and bulging sides in which they are supposed to be cooked. Equally good beans have often been eaten where a five-pound lard pail was substituted for the broken bean pot.

Yellow-eyed beans are very good when baked.


I followed this recipe exactly as written except I halved it.  Two pounds (1 quart) would be too many for my new beanpot and with so few ingredients and simple preparations, I didn’t think it would suffer.  When I say exactly as written, I mean exactly as written.  I blew on the beans and I threw the cooking liquid out of doors and not in the sink.  Notice how little sweetening is in the recipe – it is definitely a very old recipe going back to when sugar and even molasses was scarce.  My favorite recipe has one pound of beans and 3/4 cup of sugar – this has two pounds of beans and 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) of sweeteners. 

Here’s the beans about to go into the oven:


Here they are after 6 ½ hours and several “waterings” throughout to keep the beans just covered:

The beans were really good.  Because there was so little sugar in the recipe, the flavor of the beans mixed with the pork really came out.  Some day when you have all day to cook, give them a shot.


April 25, 2008 - Posted by | Random Blather


  1. Beautiful! I love real baked beans. I have a good recipe, but I haven’t made it in ages. I wonder if the bean pot moved out to BC with us?
    Thanks for taking part in WCC again Mike!

    Comment by Sara | April 28, 2008 | Reply

  2. Homemade baked beans are killer! I’m with you on the vintage… I’m “vintage”!! 😀 Actually, I think the technical term for vintage is 30+ years. I had fun anyway!!

    For your daily dose of vintage goodness & a bit of silliness, stop by Confessions of an Apron Queen, the home of Vintage Thingies Thursdays.

    Comment by Lisa/The Apron Queen | May 1, 2008 | Reply

  3. Great job! Those look yummy

    Comment by marye | May 1, 2008 | Reply

  4. […] from Mel’s Diner didn’t think pre-1980s was considered vintage, but he entered his Boston Baked Beans […]

    Pingback by Weekend Cookbook Challenge Round-Up | Chocolate Moosey | July 23, 2013 | Reply

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