With spring around the corner my thoughts are turning to gardening. After a long hard winter I can’t wait to get outside and get my hands into the dirt. My garden is fairly new and my soil isn’t all that it could be but luckily for me I love to eat and grow beans.
As well as being an incredibly important food crop, beans and other legumes are great soil builders. A healthy crop of beans will cover the soil preventing weed growth while also helping to break up the soil and fixing nitrogen for future crops.
After harvesting a fantastic bean crop, one of the best ways to celebrate is by having an old-fashioned New England baked bean supper.
While possibly not as ubiquitous as it once was, baked beans are still a tradition in many a New England home and Saturday night church supper. It is a tradition that we can thank the pilgrims for. They would bake their brown bread and cook their beans the night before so as to not be working on the Sabbath. You can argue with folks over which beans to use, but personally I prefer Jacob’s cattle. Ours come from Baer’s Best over in South Berwick Maine, but they also grow soldier beans and yelloweye if you prefer.
You can argue about which beans to use, you can argue about whether you should be using molasses or maple syrup, or a little bit of both and you can also argue about the addition of barbecue sauce and whether you should serve it with a slab of ham or franks on the side. You see, arguing about baked beans is also a New England tradition