Blog, Honey Recipes, Lifestyle

Honey-Baked Beans

Not just your Bubbe’s honey cake. As a beekeeper and avid cook, I can take you and your honey places you’ve never been before- culinarily speaking.

This might take a while, so let’s get Buzzin’.

Honey adds depth to both sweet and savoury dishes.

Ask yourself what honey tastes like, and chances are “sweet” is what comes to mind. Commercial honey is blended, boiled and reduced to hit a median of what we assume honey should look and taste like, with a general sweetness being the most prominent thing on the tongue. But when it comes to raw, small-batch honey, sweet is just the beginning.

The term “terroir” applies as much to honey as wine, chocolate, and olive oil—earth and air have profound effects on its flavor. Here are some common flavors to help build your honey-tasting vocabulary:

  • Floral: Flowers like violet, rose, peony, honeysuckle, and jasmine
  • Fruity: Tropical fruits like pineapples and mango; berries; citrus (is that a lemon, lime or grapefruit?); and dried fruits like raisins, prunes, and apricots
  • Warm: Burnt sugars like caramel, marshmallow, and butterscotch; creamy notes of yogurt or butter; deep flavors of vanilla and chocolate
  • Fresh: Crisp flavors like citrus and herbs like thyme and mint
  • Vegetal: Fresh plants, raw vegetables, wet grass, hay, and straw
  • Woody: Cedar, oak, pine, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg
  • Chemical: Plastic, soap, metal, tar, ash
  • Funk: Yeast, fermentation, must, moss, mold (think ciders, bread, mushrooms)

This dish is hearty enough as a main course with some crusty bread, or as a tasty side with your pulled chicken sandwich. And certainly adult enough to pair with something more dignified than a hot dog. But to wow your friends at the next BBQ/Brai/Gallery opening… bring these.

Honey-Baked Beans

You will need – about 2 days, and the following:

  • Large bowl for soaking beans
  • Stovetop burner
  • Pot for cooking beans* in Phase 2
  • Ovenproof dish with cover for baking in* Phase 4
  • 80g each White, Red, & Borlotti beans
  • 240ml white wine
  • 2 medium red onions, coarsely chopped
  • 30ml Olive oil
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ zucchini coarsely chopped
  • 400g cubed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 30g Honey
  • 1 Tablespoon of tomato paste
  • 30ml Balsamic vinegar – not the really good stuff
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 10g Fresh dill, chopped – If you don’t have fresh, just use approx. 3g dried

Engage the Process… Phase 1

  1. Wash and sort through your beans
    • eliminate the rocks and dirt clots. Trips to the dentist should be planned, not emergency-driven
  2. Soak the beans overnight – at least 12 hours

Phase 2 

  1. Drain your soaked beans – they should have doubled in bulk
  2. Put them in your stovetop pot* along with:
    •             White wine
    •             Half of the olive oil
    •             Half of the minced garlic
    •             Water to cover by about 4cm –I measure with the knuckle of my index finger   
  3. Bring to a boil on the stovetop and allow to boil for 5 minutes, skimming off any foam 
  4. Reduce the heat to a simmer, covering the pot and cooking until tender. This may take a while 1-2 hours depending on your beans and altitude
  5. Once the beans are tender, salt to taste and simmer an additional 10 minutes
  6. Drain, reserving the bean liquid

Phase 3 – Are we there yet? No, not yet. 

  1. Rinse out that pot* you were just using for the beans
  2. Use 10 ml of the remaining olive oil to cook the chopped red onion over medium-low heat with a pinch of salt
    • We’re looking for translucency and a bit of browning – about 10 minutes
    • Stir often
  3. Add the remaining garlic, zucchini, and half of the dill and sizzle for about 3 minutes
  4. Add the bay leaf, vinegar, honey, and tomatoes and bring to a boil
  5. Reduce the heat and simmer for approx. 10 minutes – toss in some more dill







Phase – I’ve lost count – Oh, it’s Phase 4 

Into the ovenproof dish*:

  1. Pour in your tender beans
  2. Tomato mixture
  3. Tomato paste
  4. Remaining olive oil
  5. Ground black pepper
  6. Some more dill
  7. – and as much of the reserved bean liquid as you care to
  8. Cover and bake for 45 minutes at 190c
  9. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes
  10. Remove from oven and stir

Allow to rest briefly (about 15 minutes) uncovered because you’ll need to taste it for seasoning. If you taste it now, you’ll burn your mouth and will have trouble tasting anything for a while, and we can’t have that.

OK- taste for seasoning and add more dill, salt, and/or pepper as needed

*Explanatory asterisk – If you happen to own a dutch oven with a lid you can do all of this in one pot. I do not, therefore the 2-pot requirement.

This is great right now but will be even better once you arrive at the picnic.

Very adult, sweet & savoury baked beans.

Honey-Baked Beans in a glass bowl with black plastic serving spoon

Honey-Baked Beans in a bowl

This recipe is from the 29 Days of Honey series, originally published  in the Fall of 2021

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