Pioneer Baked Beans with Pork Hocks

Yours in good taste, © Nancy Guppy, RD, MHSc.  

Visit my blog for the ingredients and method with photographs to help with the "how to"

I got into making old fashioned baked beans this past winter.  Dried white "pea" or "Navy" beans, molasses and pork were staple foods of many Canadian pioneers. I fooled around with a few versions trying to make something close to the ones my father used to make.  He preferred the dry baked beans and used both molasses and brown sugar.  Some people, including my mom, like to make a saucier baked bean.  If you want them saucier you just add more water during baking.  

Although this recipe uses pork hocks it isn't hard to make a vegetarian version and I have done it often.  You just omit the meat and you can also add some chopped carrots, parsnips, potatoes or squash etc.


2 cups (500 ml) white beans "Navy" (1 pound -450 grams)

cold water for soaking

1/2 cup (125 ml) molasses

1/4 cup (60 ml) brown sugar

1/2 cup (125 ml) ketchup

1 Tbsp (15 ml) dried mustard powder (like Keens)

1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt

1 onion, large, peeled, cut in half

4 whole cloves (spice)

2 lb (900 g) pork hocks


 1.  Soak beans overnight in plenty of cold water.  Quick soak method: cover beans with 3 times their volume of cold water.  Bring to a boil and boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.

To cook add more cold water to cover by 2 inches and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.  Drain liquid and set aside (do not throw out liquid).  Place beans in a 12 cup (3 litre) bean pot or casserole.  You can also use a roasting pan that has a lid.  You can also make these in the slow cooker.  It will take longer and I don't find they taste quite as good as those baked in the oven.

2.  Add the molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, dry mustard and salt to the bean pot and stir well to combine.

3.  Cut onions in half lengthwise and peel.  Push two whole cloves into each half and bury in the beans.

4.  Push pork hocks into the beans as well. 

5.  Add enough reserved liquid to cover the bean mixture.  Cover and bake in a 250’F (120’C) oven for 6-9 hours or until liquid is mostly absorbed and beans are tender.  They need to cook down to be very soft and deeply browned.  If they seem too dry you can stir in some more of the reserved cooking liquid during baking.  The beans will absorb a lot of the moisture.  Some people take the lid off during the last hour of baking to make the beans darker.  I usually skip that step and the photo below is of beans baked with lid on the whole time.

6.  Below I show how I took the pork hocks out of the finished beans and set them on a plate until cooled.  When cool enough to handle remove the meat and stir back into the baked beans.  Discard the fat and bones.  

That's it!  Enjoy your beans.  There is no nutrient analysis on this one LOL.  Pork hocks aren't in the ingredient data base of my software and you don't eat the bone or most of the fat so it seemed pretty impossible to do. Dried beans are high in protein, fibre, folate, iron and a skad of other vitamins and minerals.