Joe Yonan’s Homesteader Beans

By Aimee Tucker

May 13 2022


In “New England Style,” Amy is in North Berwick, Maine, where homesteaders Rebekah Yonan and Peter Kellman have created a modern-day Eden, growing everything from walnuts and rye to pears and herbs, and, of course, beans. They’re joined by Rebekah’s brother Joe Yonan, food editor of the Washington Post and author of several books, including Cool Beans. In the outdoor wood-fired oven, Joe prepares a vegetarian spin on traditional New England–style baked beans for a lovely outdoor dinner.

Note: The kombu (dried kelp, found in the Asian section of many grocery stores) is optional, but it helps soften the beans during their first cooking.


8 servings


1 pound Jacob’s cattle or other plump creamy beans, such as cranberry/borlotti or pinto
2 (3 by 5-inch) strips kombu (see Note)
1 small yellow or white onion, sliced
1/4 cup molasses
1/3 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste


Preheat the oven to 350º.

Combine the beans with enough water to cover by 2 inches in a Dutch oven or other large pot over medium-high heat. Add the kombu. Bring to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and transfer to the oven. Bake until the beans are very tender, 60 to 90 minutes, checking a time or two to add water if they are no longer covered by it.

Remove the kombu and reduce the temperature to 200º F. To the pot add the onion, molasses, maple syrup, salt, mustard, paprika, ginger, and pepper and bake for 8 hours, until the beans are falling-apart tender and infused with flavor. Stir in the vinegar, taste, and add more vinegar and salt if needed.

Serve hot, either as a side dish or over roasted potatoes and with a garden-fresh salad for a true Maine homesteader’s meal.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.