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Outdoor Camp Cooking With A Beanhole

An old camp favorite is easy baked beans done in a bean hole. This is a trick that has almost been lost – and yet is a wonderful way to do some family cooking that everyone will enjoy.

beanhole.jpgThere’s no shortage of good recipes, but the method is different, and the next time you're out camping with the family, give this easy baked beans recipe a try. One recipe to get you started:

10 cups of dried Great Northern beans
1 pound of Salt Pork
2 onions
2 1/2 cups of Molasses
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
4 teaspoons dry hot mustard
1/2 cup butter

1. Start off by digging a hole about 3 feet deep, and wide enough to leave about 6 inches all the way around your pot. Now, line the hole with rocks.

2. Using dry hardwood, build a fire in the hole, and keep it going for 3 or 4 hours, until the hole is 3/4 full with hot coals.

3. While waiting for the bean hole to be ready, boil the beans for 45 minutes, or until their skins begin peeling back.

4. You'll be using a separate 'bean pot' to cook your easy baked beans in the bean hole, cast iron is good, but whatever you use, make sure it has a tight lid, and preferably, a handle to work with. Stir in the black pepper and hot mustard into the cooked beans. In your bean pot, slice one onion and place it on the bottom. Pour in half of the cooked beans, then layer over that the other sliced up onion, and slice up the salt pork and place on top. Pour the other half of the beans in, and then pour the molasses and butter on top of everything. Add in enough boiling water to cover everything by one inch.

5. Remove 1/3 of the coals with a shovel, lower the pot into the hole, then fill the sides and top with the coals you pulled out. Now cover everything with about 2 feet of dirt on top. If you’re smart, you've set up a stick so that you can pull the bean pot out easily (as shown in the illustration above)

6. Now just let the beans stew overnight, dig 'em out the next morning, and enjoy!

Easy baked beans in a bean hole is just the beginning – enterprising cooks can make a very nice chili using the same method – or take any favorite bean recipe that you like, and try slow cooking it in a bean hole – eating outdoors while you're camping with the family will take on new memories when you try new cooking methods.

cowboy.jpg”… We had our own cooky. 'Dog Face' is the only name, I recall, we had for him. He was a good cook and made dandy sourdough bread, was a good bean cook, too. Lots of times he fixed us bean-hole beans, that is, beans cooked in a hole. Dog Face would dig a hole in the ground, line the hole with stone, then build a fire in the hole and keep it burning for several hours. Those stones would get piping hot, then the hole was ready for the beans. He put the beans into an iron kettle, with a tight cover, set it in the hole and covered it with sand. There they would be left for several hours. He seasoned the whistle-berries with bacon and molasses. I am telling you, _those beans were fitting to eat_. Beef, beans, a few canned vegetables and dried fruit was the chief chuck on which we lived. Half of the time we ate the chuck sitting on our haunches behind the chuck wagon.” – Henry Young

Baked beans are a great camping food, because dried beans are easy to carry… and if you're camping with kids, you can get them to dig the hole - tell them that this is how the cowboys enjoyed easy baked beans while out on the trail, and you'll have a good time!

Don't be afraid to change the recipe - I like to use the common '16 Bean Soup' packages you can often buy in stores. I'm also more of a pinto bean and kidney bean sort of guy - so don't get caught up on any specific recipe. I suspect that nature simply made beans perfect for slow cooking - and the next time you're out camping - be sure to give this a try!

Recreation | Hobbies


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