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Massachusetts State Bean

Traditional boston baked beans- click to see all state food symbols
Traditional Boston baked beans (cooked for hours and hours) - photo © Julia (Ryner12) on Flickr - noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike. See All Food & Agricultural Symbols - Food Holidays.

Baked Navy Bean

The official state bean of Massachusetts is the baked navy bean (also called pea bean, boston bean, or yankee bean), recognized in 1993 by the state legislature. The Old World was familiar with several kinds of beans, but the American common bean* and the lima bean were unknown. Scholars believe that the Pilgrims learned how to bake navy beans from native Indians (the Narragansett, Penobscot, and Iroquois Indians created the first baked bean recipes).

Beans were a staple food in the American Indian diet. The Indians wrapped the navy beans in deerskins (or placed in earthenware pots) with venison, bear fat ,and maple syrup, then baked them in pits lined with hot stones. The religious beliefs of the Pilgrims forbade cooking on the Sabbath (sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday), and these baked beans made a perfect Saturday night supper because the leftovers could be eaten, still warm, the next morning for breakfast.

Later Boston became a major producer of rum. Molasses, the main ingredient for rum, was very plentiful and the recipe for baked beans was altered to include molasses in place of maple syrup. Salt pork was substituted for the bear fat and Boston Baked Beans were born. Boston became famous in colonial times for its baked beans, and to this day is called "Beantown."

July is National Baked Bean Month!

Dried beans - click to see all state food symbols
Colorful dried beans for a 15-bean soup - includes navy, pinto, lima, blackeye, garbanzo, northern, split pea, cranberry bean, barley, pink, green, black, red, yellow, and pearl beans - photo © Roger Smith on Flickr - noncommercial use permitted with attribution / no derivative works. See All Food & Agricultural Symbols - Food Holidays.

* The "American common bean" (Phaseolus vulgaris) includes all these native beans originating in the Americas: navy bean (so named because they sustained the seafaring branch of the military), red kidney, pinto, great northern, marrow, and yellow eye beans. It also includes all our edible-pod garden beans (string-less, snap, & string beans)

Source:
Massachusetts State Symbols: Citizen Information Service:
Bean Bytes: Bean Planet
Two New Beans from America: Aggie-Horticulture
As American As... Baked Beans: Class Brain
Boston Baked Beans: About
July - Baked Beans Month: Class Brain
History of Boston Baked Beans: Pot Shop of Boston
Links:
Navy Beans: The World's Healthiest Foods
Beans: Food Reference Website
Dry Beans: The Cook's Thesaurus
All Food & Agricultural Symbols - Food Holidays

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Massachusetts Symbols & Icons:

cat - dog
bird - game bird
horse - mammal
fish - reptile
flower - shell
tree -soil
insect - mineral
fossil - gem
rock 1 - 2 - 3 - 4
donut - dessert
bean - berry
cookie - muffin
beverage

flag - seal
motto - colors
name - nickname
songs: 1 - 2 - 3 -
4 - 5 - 6 - 7
blues artist
dance -poem
author - book
hero - heroine
inventor
sport - tartan
memorials
vessel - quarter
 

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