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Appalachian Cider Baked Beans

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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  • 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.]
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