A traditional baked bean supper. (KATHY D’AGOSTINO PHOTO)

Driving by the now-closed B&M factory in Portland last week, it made me sad to think I will no longer smell the beans baking when I ​pass​ by. Nothing beats the aroma of a pot of beans ​baking​ in the oven. It ​inspired me​ to roll up my sleeves and make some.

Beans have been a New England staple since the 17th century. Many of us have gone to a Saturday night baked bean church supper. Others have attended bean hole festivals or made baked beans for a potluck. Now, with Memorial Day approaching, baked beans remain a favorite cookout side dish.

I wondered, who would have an authentic New England recipe? Louise Chamberland came to mind. Lou is a member of Cooking at 43° North and the owner of Lulu’s Kitchen. In her spare time, she and her husband, Claude, do some catering and provide delicious food for local events and gatherings. For those ​of you who were​ lucky enough to attend Harpswell Aging at Home’s Snacks with Friends in 2021 at Mitchell Field and Mackerel Cove, ​you got to taste​ their grilled pizza, so you know what I’m talking about.

Lo​u​ grew up in northern Aroostook County, where a baked bean “suppah” is still a tradition. This tradition remains intact at Lou and Claude’s house every Saturday night and is “part of the​ marriage contract,” according to Cla​ude​. Thank you, Lou!



1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) navy or small beans

2-3 onions, chopped

5-6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup molasses

3 tablespoons dry mustard

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

  1. Cover beans with water and bring to a boil in a large pot. Turn off heat and let sit for 3-5 hours.
  2. Spray bean pot or Dutch oven with cooking spray.
  3. Put all the other ingredients in the greased bean pot or Dutch oven.
  4. Drain beans and rinse well. Add 2-3 quarts of water to beans and bring to a boil again.
  5. Add beans, with their cooking water, to the other ingredients in your bean pot or Dutch oven. Stir up a bit, cover and bake at 350 degrees for 6-8 hours. Check your beans after 4 hours and recheck to make sure there is always enough water. Add warm water as you go, as needed, to make sure beans do not dry out.

Options: For a sweeter bean recipe, reduce maple syrup to 1/4 cup and add 1/4 cup of brown sugar.

Like your beans with bacon? Add 6 slices of cooked bacon cut up in 1-inch pieces, along with 1 tablespoon bacon fat. Stir in and bake.

Note: This recipe makes a lot. Beans can be frozen easily. Fully defrost before reheating in the oven at 350 degrees for about 1/2 hour.



3 cups warm water with 2 tablespoons yeast dissolved in it

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons oil (olive or canola)

2 teaspoons salt

8 cups flour

  1. Combine all ingredients and knead for 10 minutes or use a mixer with a dough hook and mix for 4 minutes.
  2. Cover and let rise in a warm place, in a greased or oiled bowl, until double in size (about an hour).
  3. When doubled in size, remove to a floured surface and, with your floured hands, knead a bit and divide and roll dough into about 15 rolls.
  4. Place rolls in a 12-by-15 casserole pan, greased or lined with parchment. Cover and let rise (about 30 minutes).
  5. Bake in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour. Check after about 18 minutes to be sure they don’t get too brown. Cool on a rack.

Note: Buns can be frozen. When cooled, seal in a plastic bag in the freezer. Defrost and wrap in aluminum foil. Reheat in a 350-degree oven for about 3-5 minutes.

Cooking at 43° North is a program of Harpswell Aging at Home. Through this column, the program shares favorite dishes from friends and neighbors in the community.

HAH always needs cooks for its Meals in a Pinch program, which provides nutritious meals to neighbors in need. For more information, contact Julie Moulton at 207-330-5416 or juliemoulton28@gmail.com.