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Baked Beans fail

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For a family get together this weekend, for about 20 people, we included Boston baked beans on the menu. Most of the cooking was being done outside, and given that it was going to be 90+ degrees on Saturday, I suggested we do the beans in the crock pot rather than heat the oven for a few hours. I used a recipe from a slow-cooker cookbook, and tripled the recipe from using 2 cups of dried Great Northern (also suggested was Navy, but I went with Northerns) beans to 6 cups.

The recipe suggested putting the beans in the crock, adding water until just covered, and cooking on high until "pre cooked" (for about two hours), and then adding the rest of the ingredients (including 6 cups of stock, so tripled would be 18 cups!!!!) and cooking on low for about 6 hours.

I "precooked" the beans the night before, but an hour into the process, most of the water was gone and the top beans looked dried and crunchy, the bottom ones looked like they were getting almost cooked. I added a bunch more water, and figured residual heat would get the job done.

Next day, I added the molasses, maple syrup, bacon, and dried mustard, put on low, and start. Could only add 8 cups of stock, put figured I could add more as needed. 2 hours in, and looked like nothing happened, so I put it on high. 4 hours later, beans not done. I pull out another crock, split the batch, and pray. 6 hours, not done. 8 hours in, the party starts, beans not close to getting done, I pull the plug on the beans.

Next day, not willing to concede defeat, I recombine the batches, add more stock, and hit high again. 4 hours later, they're finally done. Kinda. Still kinda crunchy, but also kinda falling apart. Sauce isn't thick. Overall, not a good result.

Is it in part because I tripled the batch and it was too much for the crock to handle? I consider myself very competent in the kitchen, able to tackle liver pates, sausages, and risottos with relative ease, but for some reason, cooking beans so they're as creamy as canned eludes me. Any help?

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  1. Whenever this happens I seize the upper hand promptly by blaming it on stale beans. Actually, that is often the reason. Here in Texas pintos and black beans seem to turn over much more quickly and Great Nothern and Navy are often perilously close the their "sell by" dates.

    1. I think it was too much volume for the crock pot to heat evenly and consistantly. If doing this again i would limit to a double batch, soak and cook beans on the stove first, then xsfer to crockpot with the molasses, etc

      1. Making Boston baked beans in a bean pot in a 180ยบ oven takes about 18 hours. Your recipe isn't making sense to me. You don't precook beans for baked beans. The salt pork, mustard, onion juice, and molasses are all added at the start. The maple syrup if using isn't added until the last hour of cooking.

        Have you made this recipe before? It just sounds a bit flawed possibly.

        1. As Tim I said, l used to blame on old beans, now use Campbell's or Bush's pork and beans and drain them for 12 hours, add all my stuff and cook for another 6-8 hours at low heat, texture is like library paste which is what l am going for.

          1. Try the Boston Baked Beans from America's test kitchen, no fail beans every time and they are creamy. The recipe starts off with boiling the beans with some baking soda for a brief period of time. The beans are also soaked overnight as well. If the water is hard in your area, it might be the beans downfall. One thing they did do was to put an aluminum foil over the top of the beans in the crockpot, keeping the heat and stem in does seem to help soften them.