1 small onion, finely diced
1/4 lb. humanely raised lean bacon, finely diced (optional)
3 Tb. brown sugar
2 Tb. blackstrap molasses
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 to 1 1/2 tsp. salt (use the lesser amount if including bacon; more if not)
The night before you plan on making this, rinse the beans, cover with water by a couple of inches, and let them soak anywhere from 12 to 24 hours.
Drain beans, place in stockpot, and add 6 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, then turn down, cover, and simmer for one hour.
Cook the diced bacon in a separate frying pan until nearly crisp, then add the diced onion and saute with the bacon until it begins to brown. (If you're not using the bacon, cook the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil.)
Add onion mixture, brown sugar, molasses, and vinegar to the beans in the pot, withholding the salt. Continue simmering for another two hours or so, stirring every so often, until most of the liquid is absorbed and sauce is nice and thick. If, after two hours, it’s still too watery, remove the lid and turn up the heat for a few minutes to reduce and thicken the liquid.
Add salt to taste. The salt content in bacon varies a lot, so start with the lesser amount and add more as necessary.