The first time that I tasted cider beans was at the local gas station. Here in the mountains, folks gather at the local gas station to visit, have a meal, and catch up on the local news. Far from serving “fast food,” these little places present “home cookin’,” and it’s delicious. This good ol’ mountain recipe is very satisfying paired with cornbread or muffins.–Joan E. Aller
LC Big Ole Crock of Beans Note
Thanks to this recipe, we’re experiencing some serious ceramic bean pot envy. We want one. Those of you who have one, where’d you get yours?
Appalachian Cider Baked Beans Recipe
- Quick Glance
- 15 M
- 6 H, 15 M
- Serves 8
- 3 cups dried pinto beans
- 3 cups fresh apple cider
- 8 ounces salt pork, thinly sliced
- 2 small yellow onions, peeled and left whole
- 6 tablespoons molasses, preferably sorghum molasses
- 1 tablespoon dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1. To make the Appalachian Cider Beans in your slow cooker, see the Slow Cooker Variation below.
To make the Appalachian Cider Beans as God intended, in the oven, pick over the beans, discarding any stones and wrinkled beans. Rinse well and place in a large bowl. Add cold water to cover by 3 inches, cover, and let soak for 12 hours.
- 2. Drain the beans and transfer them to a heavy saucepan. Add the cider and slowly bring the beans to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid.
- 3. Preheat the oven to 300°F (149°C).
- 4. Layer half of the salt pork slices on the bottom of a 2-quart ceramic bean pot or other deep baking dish, such as a Dutch oven. Spoon the beans into the pot and then bury the onions in the beans.
- 5. In a small saucepan, combine the molasses, dry mustard, and salt and place over medium heat until the mustard and salt dissolve into the molasses. Pour the mixture evenly over the beans and top with the remaining salt pork slices. Add the reserved cooking liquid to the pot. Add hot water as needed to cover the beans with liquid. Cover the pot.
- 6. Bake for 4 hours, then uncover the pot and add more water if the beans seem dry. Recover and continue to bake for 1 to 2 hours, until the beans are tender. Serve hot, directly from the pot.
Slow Cooker Variation
- Making a big ole pot of baked beans just got even easier. Soak and drain the beans as in step 1 of the instructions above. Toss half of the salt pork in the slow cooker. Add the beans, onions, and apple cider, using your judgement when it comes to how much cider is necessary. (You want to use enough to just barely cover the beans by no more than 1/2 an inch; if this means you use less than the specified amount, that’s okay. If the cider doesn’t completely cover the beans, add enough cold water to barely cover them.) Stir together the molasses, mustard, and salt (warming the molasses slightly in the microwave or on the stovetop will make this easier). Pour the molasses mixture over the beans and then top with the remaining salt pork. Cook on high for 3 to 6 hours, then reduce the heat to low and cook until the beans are tender and irresistibly fragrant, 1 to 4 more hours. (The beans are quite forgiving, and so can pretty much cook on whatever setting for however long, depending on your schedule.)
[Editor's Note: Bear in mind, no two slow-cookers are exactly alike, just as no two cooks are exactly alike. This slow-cooker approach worked really, really well for us, although if you have a different slow-cooker cooking technique you want to try by all means, do so. And, natch, we'd love if you'd share it with us in a comment below.]
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:
- Crisp Polenta Cakes with Braised Cabbage from Herbivoracious
- Tuscan Baked Beans from Hunter, Angler, Gardener, Cook
- Borlotti Beans in Tomato Sauce with Creamy Polenta from Leite's Culinaria
- Braised White Beans from Leite's Culinaria
Testers ChoiceTesters Choice
Jun 27, 2011
Wow! I don’t like baked beans or pork ‘n beans from a can. I don’t care how you doctor them with other stuff, I just don’t like them. That’s why this recipe was such a revelation. The beans cooked into creamy but distinct ovoids of flavor. The sauce is rich and a little salty but not overly sweet (something that I was worried about). The onions became jam-like and could be spooned over the beans after you served yourself a heaping serving, and the pork was transformed into some of the best braised pork belly I’ve had. I liked everything about this recipe. I didn’t have to add more liquid to the beans while they cooked and I baked mine for almost the full 6 hours.
Jun 27, 2011
My husband and I have a difference of opinion regarding beans. He likes classic baked beans. I usually find them sweet to the point of being unpalatable. These cider beans made us both happy. While there is a bit of sweetness from the cider and molasses, it’s not overpowering, and it’s balanced by plenty of tang. The beans were well-seasoned and delicious. The cooking time is long, but since it is mostly hands-off, there isn’t much work involved and you are free to pursue other projects while the beans bubble away in the oven.
Jun 27, 2011
This is a great way to make baked beans. The beans are not overly sweet and have a wonderful texture. We enjoyed the little bit of cider flavor as well as molasses and fat back in these. The onions that were buried in the beans tasted great as well. We ate ours with some pulled pork bbq. They would also be a good accompaniment to bbq chicken and with corn bread, as the recipe recommends. I’ll keep these in mind next time I need some beans as a side dish.
Jun 27, 2011
The recipe delivers on its promise of a “satisfying” result. The beans were not too sweet, had a nice hint of smoke, and the deep mahogany color lent visual appeal. The instructions were straightforward. I could not find fresh apple cider and substituted “Simply Apple” juice. I did need to add a bit more water after the initial 4 hours of baking. Though not a recipe lending itself to raving commentary, I found myself refilling my (small) bowl 3 times! For those who have only had baked beans from a can, try this and see what a few simple ingredients and a little patience can produce.
Jun 27, 2011
This one is both easy and tasty. I was not able to find salt pork, so I used plain bacon, which also worked well. My 2-year-old and my husband both loved this one. We’ve been eating it for a couple of days, and I think the flavors get better over time, although they are good right out of the pot. Excellent with creamed spinach and corn bread!
Jun 27, 2011
I very much liked the fact that this was not a tomato-based baked bean recipe. The cider proved to be a lighter tasting base for the beans. The recipe works well as written. I did have to add water a couple of times during the long cooking, but this was probably a function of the size of my Dutch oven. Next time I will freeze the salt pork so that I can get thinner slices. Mine were thick enough that when serving I found fatty pieces that my family did not care for. All in all, a good recipe.
Jun 27, 2011
The beans have great flavor, and I couldn’t stop eating them. I used bacon instead of salt pork because that’s what I had available. I’d cook the beans longer in the apple cider (at least 1 hour) so the beans would be more tender before I put the molasses mixture on them. They never got as meltingly tender as I would have liked, but they tasted great!
Jun 27, 2011
Everything about this recipe, from its simplicity to its flavor, is revelatory. The cider lends everything an extra, lusty dimension, and the result—smoky, sweet, and savory—is pretty much everything you could ask for in a pot of baked beans. They make an ideal side dish and are also incredibly satisfying on their own. If ever a baked bean recipe could be said to be ambrosial, it’s this one. Almost everything about this recipe worked for me, from the measurements and cooking times to the groans of happiness from the people I served it to. The serving suggestion is just about right, unless of course people want seconds, which they will. There’s only one thing I’d change about the recipe: I found that the 3 cups of cider called for weren’t enough to submerge the beans during boiling. So I added an extra cup, and that worked well. As far as the amount of liquid I needed to add to the beans to prevent them from drying out as they baked, I added about 1 1/2 cups water over the course of about 3 hours – when I checked them at 2 hours they seemed dry, and then I added more around the 4 1/2-hour mark. How much water you add, and how long you need to cook the beans, really depends on how hot your oven runs. I recommend checking every hour to make sure the beans aren’t drying out. One other note: although the recipe calls for using a 2-quart vessel, I used a 5.5-quart cast-iron pot, so the surface area most likely affected how quickly the beans dried out.
Jun 27, 2011
I think I’d like to try it because homemade baked beans are so far superior to canned and I’m never home for 6 hours straight to cook them unless it’s in a slow cooker. I’ve used my slow cooker for beans many times, and this recipe is very similar to one I have for Vermont Baked Beans. I would follow steps 1 and 2 exactly (or do a quick soak of the beans) and then layer the items as directed and cover everything with enough of the reserved cooking liquid to measure 1/2 inch If the cooking liquid isn’t enough, add a little boiling water. Then cover with the lid, cook on high to bring to a boil, and reduce to low for 8 to 10 hours. Add boiling water as necessary to keep the beans moist. Once they are very tender, you can remove the cover and cook to the desired consistency.
Jun 27, 2011
This was a fun recipe to adapt to the slow cooker. In wanting to make it simple, I elected not to simmer the beans with the cider but to instead add 2 cups cider to my soaked, uncooked beans in the slow cooker. First I placed some of the salt pork on the bottom of the crock-pot, layered the beans on top of the salt pork, and poured the cider on the beans. I then buried the onions in the beans. I heated the molasses in the microwave on 50% power for 30 seconds. This was the perfect temperature for the mustard to blend into the molasses. I poured that on the beans and topped them with the remaining salt pork and set the slow cooker to high. I cooked the beans for 3 hours on high and set the slow cooker on low for 4 additional hours. While the beans could have used a bit more time in the slow cooker, the flavor was absolutely wonderful. The perfect balance of salty and sweet with deep flavors of molasses and mustard. I will definitely make these again, but I will plan on 10 hours in the slow cooker to get the beans to the point where they give up all resistance.
Jun 27, 2011
This recipe has been a favorite of my husband’s since the first time I tested it. I made the cider beans in a slow cooker over the weekend, and we liked it cooked in the slow cooker just much as the original version. My method was to skip the step where you simmer the beans in the cider. I just put the salt pork, beans, and onion into the pot, and added the cider. The cider was enough to just barely cover the beans, and since you don’t lose much liquid in a slow cooker, I did not add the additional water. Added the molasses mixture and put the last of the salt pork on top. I intended to cook this 8 to 10 hours on low, but I got a late start, so I cooked it 6 hours on high, then turned it to low for 1 hour at the end. We loved these the first time we had tested the recipe as-is, especially my husband, and we loved them again done in the slow cooker. The one thing that is different cooking beans in the slow cooker is that they tend to stay whole, and these were no exception. With none of the beans exploding or falling apart, the surrounding liquid doesn’t thicken up as much. Other than that, they tasted the same as before. If anything, I would cook them a little longer next time. Leftovers the next day were, if anything, even better.
Appalachian Cider Baked Beans Recipe © 2010 Joan E. Aller. Photo © 2010 Ben Fink. All rights reserved.