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B&M Brown Bread in a Can

B&M Brown Bread in a Can
12 votes, 4.00 avg. rating (79% score)

In New England, one of the most popular varieties of brown bread is made by B&M in Portland, Maine, and it’s sold in a can. It might sound strange to the non-native Yankee to imagine buying bread in a can at the supermarket alongside the baked beans (which B&M also makes with pride), but if you’ve ever steamed a loaf yourself at home, you know it can take awhile, making the a can a handy alternative.

Brown Bread in a Can

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
B&M Brown Bread in a can — a New England classic.

It’s not clear when B&M (the letters stand for co-founders George Burnham and Charles Morrill) started selling their version of the classic New England bread (a sweet variety made from cornmeal, wheat and rye flours, and molasses), but like its Necco Wafer and Moxie kin, the bread has been around so long it’s hard to imagine a time when it wasn’t for sale. The company got its start back in 1867 canning meats, seafood, and corn, but by 1927 B&M’s brick oven baked beans hit the market, and business (if you’ll pardon the pun) boomed on a national scale.  The company was sold several times starting in 1965, but despite each new ownership, both the B&M name and the Portland plant have remained.

bm baked beans ad 1942

B&M advertisement from the August 1942 issue of Yankee Magazine.

When eating canned bread (B&M sells the bread in both original and “with raisins” for those that like things sweet), a handy can opener is necessary to first remove both the top and bottom lids, and then, with a gentle shake, the bread emerges and is ready for slicing.

Brown Bread in a Can

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Just open both sides of the can and slide the bread out.

Dense, moist, and made from natural ingredients, B&M’s brown bread is a solid ready-to-eat representative of the classic New England dish. Some folks enjoy eating the bread sliced up as-is at room temperature, but you can also warm it in the microwave or toaster oven. It’s good topped with butter, cream cheese, or jam.

brown bread butter

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Brown bread lightly toasted and topped with butter.

You can also make it a meal by serving the bread topped with a generous ladle of baked beans. Hot dogs on the plate are also not uncommon. In many households, hot dogs and baked beans with brown bread (canned or homemade) was a Saturday night tradition. For many, it still is.

brown bread baked beans

Photo/Art by Aimee Seavey
Brown bread with baked beans.

Are you a fan of B&M Brown Bread in a can? Do you like it with butter or beans? Hot dogs? All three? Share your brown bread memories with us!

Want to try your hand at a homemade version of steamed brown bread and baked beans? Try Granny’s Brown Bread with classic Baked Beans.

Aimee Seavey


Aimee Seavey


Assistant Editor Aimee Seavey is a staff writer for Yankee Magazine and assists in the development and promotion of content for through blogging and social media outlets.
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55 Responses to B&M Brown Bread in a Can

  1. Teri August 14, 2014 at 8:30 am #

    Live in California. Where can I buy the can bread?

    • Aimee Seavey August 14, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      Hi Teri. Both Amazon and the Vermont Country Store website have B&M Brown Bread for sale. Enjoy!

    • Lori November 17, 2014 at 6:59 am #

      You can just google a recipe for brown bread and bake it in an empty can that you already have.

  2. Betsy Mailloux August 14, 2014 at 9:33 am #

    We had the B&M Brown bread with raisins with our beans & hotdogs every Saturday when I was growing up. My mother opened both ends of the can with a can opener and pushed the bread out one end useinr the lid to push it through. She sliced it into eight slices (there were eight of us) and wrapped it in aluminium foil. She put it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 – 30 minutes. When it came out of the oven it was moist and ready to eat with butter melted on it. I did the same thing with my family as an adult, and my daughter is now doing it with her family. Hotdogs & beans are not the same without B&M Brown Bread!

    • Barb August 25, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

      We had beans and hot dogs and brown bread as kids, too! Sometimes we’d have Indian pudding for dessert! I liked mine warm with a scoop of ice dream. While everybody else chose vanilla, mine would be chocolate. Once, as a kid, I actually made the pudding myself because we couldn’t find it in cans! It was wonderful! I’ll have to do it again this winter?

    • Linda Boggess November 6, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      Must truly be a “Yankee” tradition. We had the same things every Saturday. B&M beans, hot dogs and brown bread. My parents were both from Providence and my father was a big hot dog lover. I have lived most of my adult life in the south, from Virginia to Texas and finally Florida. You can’t always find the “good old days” in the grocery stores down here, so when I do see them I stock up. When ever I visit up north, I try to pick up other things too. Eclipse Coffee syrup and Kenyon Mills Clam Cake Batter Mix. I should just move back to Rhode Island. :-)

  3. Stacy August 14, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    Oh yes! That famous brown bread in a can! I remember my mother , who is from New England, heating up and consuming this bread when I was a child! She was the only one in our family who ate it and I tried to like it but the molasses always threw me off. It boggled my mind the idea of bread coming from a can.

  4. Debra Harris August 14, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    as a transplanted Yankee (now in Fl) I haven’t had brown bread in a while. But, the memories from childhood…..beans, franks & brown bread are still near ‘n dear to my heart. As a young mother I introduced brown bread to my children, but they weren’t to crazy ’bout it.

    I used to be able to buy it in Fl, but it’s hard to find anymore….nice to know The Vt Country Store sells it…..just might have’ta order some and take a trip down memory lane ;)

  5. kim daigle August 16, 2014 at 4:49 am #

    I remember eating beans (homemade) and Schonland’s franks and B&M Brown bread every Saturday for supper when I was a kid. I now live in Hawaii and have to drive over 1/2 hour away to find it…IF they have it in stock. I always call first!!

  6. Judy August 16, 2014 at 6:33 am #

    I love brown bread even more when I slice it and put in my toaster then smother it in butter. Real butter.

    • Judy August 16, 2014 at 6:36 am #

      My husband loves it with his beans and hot dogs. We have loved this bread since we were kids and always consider it a treat when we got it. Please don’t change it.

  7. rick parker August 17, 2014 at 7:08 am #

    i still live in massachusetts , we use to have dogs and beans on every friday and brown bread steamed in the can , sliced and real butter . we still do this every now and then as a treat . now that i am older i have to watch what i eat .

  8. Joan Lally August 26, 2014 at 2:06 pm #

    My youngest son moved to Florida and when he got sick he came back to NE.. He had cancer but his requests when he was still able to eat, was brown bread, beans and hot dogs….It made him go back in time growing up on this treat Saturday nights. He was so happy to have it again..It’s a big memory of him before he passed..Brown Bread..yeah..

  9. Aline Kaplan August 31, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    We ate a lot of B&M Brownbread when I was a kid and I loved it. but they now use high-fructose corn syrup as a sweetener and i stopped buying it when that happened. It’s too bad that this New England tradition has been sacrificed to a cheap processed sugar product that’s bad for you.

  10. Don September 13, 2014 at 11:48 pm #

    I’m living in Michigan now but my local supermarkets do carry B&M Beans and Brown bread. However they don’t realize the bread goes with beans and have it in a completely different aisle.

    I can barely remember a saturday night in my youth that we did not have beans and brown bread for supper.

    • Sandi Hall January 14, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

      You should request that they stock it next to the beans. Tell them the story of brown bread and Saturday night beans. My mom would make red kidney beans with molasses and salt pork all day Saturday. She had Dad buy her an electric stove with a steaming well in the back burner. Every Saturday was bean night and the well was also used at Thanksgiving and Christmas to make plum pudding! My mom was from Cape Porpoise, Maine, but I grew up in Rochester, NH. Traditions run deep in New England Families. I haven’t had brown bread and beans in over 25 years. I need to have my store stock it. I’ll tell them to put the bread next to the beans. We used to get the plain bread, but when I got married, my husband liked the raisins in the bread, so we had that instead. We had it with the B & M Beans, too. He liked hot dogs with his beans, so I started serving them, too. When I was growing up, we used to “fight” over the salt pork. My parents got the larger portions, and we girls had the smaller portions. Fond Memories!

  11. Valia October 1, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Not only were the three a Saturday night supper, the beans and brown bread were served with bacon and eggs Sunday morning. I do agree toasted with butter is quick and easy.

    Tis the season to start the tradition again!

  12. Tina October 3, 2014 at 12:01 am #

    My mother made the bread with beans and hot dogs too. She buttered the slices and placed them in a frying pan to warm….. so good. I sometimes make it for my children, but they don’t love it like I did. (Gluten sensitivity so I can’t eat it anymore)

  13. Donna Champion October 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Loved the brown bread with raisins, but alas, since I’ve moved to Dixie I just
    cannot find it. With only S.S. for income, I can’t afford Vermont Country Store’s
    price. Sometimes getting up in age means living on memories. Yum!

    • Jeffrey Harriman January 12, 2015 at 12:32 am #

      Donna, considering the cost plus shipping, it’s rather steep. But, here is an authentic recipe which certainly will cost less and taste even better than memories.

      1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
      1/2 cup rye flour
      1/2 cup stone-ground cornmeal
      3/4 teaspoon baking soda
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      6 tablespoons vegetable oil
      1/2 cup molasses
      1 cup buttermilk
      1 large egg, lightly beaten
      1/2 cup black raisins
      Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease a clean 1-pound coffee can.

      In a large bowl, combine the whole-wheat flour, rye flour, cornmeal, baking soda and salt. Stir in the oil and molasses, just to combine. Add the buttermilk and egg, and mix just to combine. Stir in raisins.

      Spoon into the prepared can. There should be about 1 1/2 inches of clearance above the batter for the bread to rise. Cover the top of the can tightly with greased foil

      Place can in a large pot whose rim is higher than the top of the can. Pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the can. Bring the water to a bare simmer, then cover pot and steam 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, until toothpick inserted in the top (with foil removed) comes out clean.

      Replenish the water if needed while steaming. Cool on a baking rack for at least 10 minutes, then unmold. If the bread will not come out the top of the can, use a can opener to remove the bottom and push it out the other side.

      Slice the bread into thick rounds and serve warm, preferably, or at room temperature.

      Store leftover bread in the refrigerator for up to several days.

  14. Jackie Bennett November 6, 2014 at 7:19 am #

    This is a terrific article! When I was growing up, my mother – a Connecticut Yankee through and through – served B&M brown bread and B&M beans with corned beef hash. I still do.
    Jackie Bennett

  15. Jeanne Fournier November 6, 2014 at 7:50 am #

    This was a Sat. Night special Meal. Brown Bread from the can, steamed hot dogs and baked beans.
    It fed a large family from Whitefield, N.H. For many Sat. Nights. I still enjoy it. Jeanne

  16. Ginny Talley November 6, 2014 at 9:16 am #

    We also had brown bread with B & M baked beans & hot dogs every Saturday night growing up. I find B&M Brown Bread at Reasor’s in Tulsa Oklahoma with the baking goods.

  17. Cherie November 6, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

    I’ve been eating delicious New England B&M brown bread for the last 60years…love it. Now living in IL I’m told it is a seasonal item. That’s CRAZY !! Until recently I’ve found it on the shelf whenever the craving hit me.
    It’s a special memory from my childhood. Try it with cream cheese, too.

  18. Susan November 15, 2014 at 7:22 pm #

    My dad was a big fan of the health benefits of molasses so naturally we ate a lot of brown bread in my house. We always preferred to eat it fried in butter even with our usual Saturday night beans and dogs which he usually prepared. I am disappointed to learn that the ab& M brand is now made with corn I do not use that in my diet.

  19. Jody November 15, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    My mom would buy it whenever we went camping. At home we would eat it with cream cheese. I haven’t thought about it in a long time. I now live in Florida, I doubt I will find it, but guess what I’m doing tomorrow. If I don’t find it, my New England Santa will have to ship me a few cans.

  20. Linda November 15, 2014 at 11:11 pm #

    I always thought that the initials B&M stood for Boston and Maine like the railroad

  21. kAREN November 16, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    gluten free?

  22. Cynthia Cameron November 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm #

    Born in ME, so had homemade baked beans every Sat. night, and a treat was when we had brown bread. Later, i could find it in Houston, and I’d slice and toast it in the toaster oven, then put butter on it, and toast again. It tasted like dessert to me and I like it immensely!

  23. Nora Qudus November 27, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    I have always loved this canned bread, even as a child in San Francisco I was a latent Mainer! It was always in the store then but that is a long time ago.

  24. susan patton December 1, 2014 at 8:26 am #

    Where in Klamath Falls Oregon can i get the B&M brown bread in a can…I love it but cant find it here..

    • Aimee Seavey December 1, 2014 at 9:21 am #

      Hi Susan. Both Amazon and the Vermont Country Store website have B&M Brown Bread for sale. Enjoy!

  25. Debby Carlson December 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm #

    Am I the only person who’s Mom used the B&M brown bread with raisins as a dessert by mixing up hard sauce to go on it? One of my strongest dessert memories of childhood and I’ll be introducing my coworkers to it in a couple of weeks.

    • Bette Jeffries February 7, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

      The only way I ever had it growing up, and now occasionally, is with cream cheese. My Mother also sliced it by sliding it through the can, as someone above mentioned. We’d make a ‘sandwich’ with cream cheese between two pieces and then cut into quarters. Yum, yum! Raised in NJ, I never had it with hot dogs & beans but will try that soon. Here in Florida, I can usually find it at Publix. This brought back many memories …

  26. Bob December 17, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    This year we have not been able to find the B&M brown bread anywhere! (And we don’t want to buy a whole carton online.) Wonder what is going on in Rochester, NY, that it has disappeared this year? Wegman’s market is listed on the B&M website, but Wegman’s says they have discontinued it. Tops market also said they discontinued it. Walmart is advertised on the B&M website, but they also are not selling it this year. B&M customer service has not responded to email inquiries. Help – we are desperate; it is almost Christmas!

  27. Annie January 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm #

    I found an old ?? Can of B & M brown bread Raisin at my mother’s – how can I find out how old it is ? And if it’s still ok to eat. She is 93 and has no idea when she got it. No date on it – but has some numbers stamped into the top lid. Looks like a much older label than advertised on Amazon etc.
    any ideas ? Thanks !

    • Aimee Seavey January 5, 2015 at 9:21 am #

      Hi Annie. I’d call the manufacturer directly for more information about the expiration date, but it might just be best to buy a new can!

  28. Kristina January 11, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    I grew up in Pa. and we always had B&M Brown Bread and B&M beans. We also had fried codfish cakes. It came in a can and you sliced it and fried it and had it with beans and brown bread. The canned codfish is not made anymore.

    I live in DE and still buy B&M beans and brown bread. They are the best.

  29. Linda January 13, 2015 at 10:35 pm #

    B&M beans and brown bread and Jordan’s red hot dogs were a Saturday night staple in our home. Miss both the brown bread and the hot dogs out here in Califiornia and the beans are even sometimes hard to find. Bush’s is the popular brand out here. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

    • Tom January 26, 2015 at 9:20 pm #

      Draegers in San Mateo has B&M baked beans and brown bread with raisins on the shelves. Picked up a couple cans of bread today.

      • Diane February 6, 2015 at 12:10 am #

        I believe Nob Hill in Redwood Shores has it as well.

  30. Carol January 14, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    This brought back memories of Saturday nights of beans and hot dogs or church baked bean suppers. I can find B&M beans in Washington State, but haven’t found brown bread. I think I’ll give the recipe a try.

    • AlysonRR February 21, 2015 at 8:19 pm #

      I’m in WA and our local QFC (Kroger) carries the brown bread on the top shelf above the many more shelves of beans.

  31. Helen January 15, 2015 at 5:45 pm #

    I live in Midland, Texas. Would like to know what stores carry the Brown Bread? Thanks for your help.

    • Aimee Seavey January 16, 2015 at 7:08 am #

      Hi Helen. Both Amazon and the Vermont Country Store website have B&M Brown Bread for sale. Enjoy!

  32. judith estes January 15, 2015 at 7:46 pm #

    Beans, brown bread, but not just hot dogs. They had to be red hot dogs. Yup, all that red dye is still coursing through my system. Red hot dogs have a taste all their own. Either boiled, fried or BBQ’d. Still sold here in Portland, Maine. Always sold at church fairs, hot dog carts, etc. Sat. nite special: B&M beans, red hot dogs and brown bread. Yum yum.

  33. Aileen Steigerwalt January 23, 2015 at 9:22 pm #

    keep up the good baking of the beans Hi, I was born in Maine and live in Pa. now for the past 46 yrs. I love the Yellow Eye Bake Beans . But we can’t get them here. But we can get the B & M Brown Bread. So When I come to Maine for Vacation I try and buy the Yellow Eye Dry Beans. But if I can’t find them I get the Pea Beans. I am so hungry for my Grams Bean Hole Baked Beans we use to have when we had the family reunions.
    Keep up the good baking of the beans, as I am going to try and get some this year.
    I will get the New England Hot Dog Buns to go along with the beans for the great taste together.

    • Mary Irish March 7, 2015 at 11:02 pm #

      We now live in Tennessee and go through the same thing when in Maine on our annual vacation! I purchased a hot dog bun pan from Chef’s Catalog so I can now make my own New England hot dog buns! Those round rolls are just not the same for hot dogs and toasted tuna rolls!

  34. Nancy Shuey January 27, 2015 at 10:05 am #

    This brown bread has me intrigued and I would like to try it. I live in PA. Where in the grocery store would I find it?

    • Mary Irish March 7, 2015 at 11:08 pm #

      It is usually on a shelf above the B&M beans. When we lived in Virginia, our Kroger store manager ordered some for me. When it came in, he asked me what we do with it. He had never heard of “bread in a can”. He took some home, and reported later that his whole family had really enjoyed it.
      I can’t find it here in Tennessee.

  35. Robert Young February 5, 2015 at 10:49 pm #

    My folks had hot dogs and B&M beans and Brown Bread Saturday nights. No matter how far we got from Chelsea Mass we still ate New England Diet. I still crave it after fish supper on friday.

  36. Mari February 6, 2015 at 3:56 am #

    Count me in on the Saturday night supper of B&M beans and red Jordans hot dogs in my childhood on the Maine and New Hampshire coast. Always coleslaw on the side. B&M brown bread was a rare treat, usually the bready accompaniment was biscuits with crabapple jelly (cheaper), but I do love the brown bread. I remember my grandmother was furious because I liked B&M beans better than her homemade ones (which were always hard and the liquid was watery)! And always-always-always, no matter how cold it was, we had to roll down the windows when driving on 295 through Portland to get a snort of that heavenly smell from the baked bean factory!

    It’s so depressing that B&M puts high fructose corn syrup in their pork-less (I don’t eat factory farmed meats anymore so no more red hot dogs either; Applegate’s organic beef hot dogs are a pretty decent replacement even if they’re totally the wrong color) beans now – nobody else’s beans are anywhere near as good and frankly baked beans are a tedious pain in the rump to make from scratch for one person. I hate freezing them because when I want some they’re a solid brick that takes a day to thaw and I just can’t pre-plan my baked bean cravings! Maybe I’ll try canning them.

    I just checked the B&M website and there’s no HFCS listed in the brown bread: “Water, Whole Wheat Flour, Molasses, Dextrose, Rye Flour, Whey, Degerminated Yellow Corn Meal, Baking Soda, Buttermilk, Salt, Corn Oil. ” That’s some good news anyway. I did always wish they’d make little cans of the brown bread to go with the little cans of beans though!

  37. Dan Francescon February 7, 2015 at 12:18 pm #

    We live in OK and have not been able to find any store that carries B@M brown bread. Any suggestions?

  38. Mary February 10, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    My mom used to cook hot dogs (boiled), B&M baked beans (she’d add dried minced onion and maple syrup, and cook until they started to break down) and she’d put the slices of B&M plain brown bread in a skillet with butter to warm the bread and toast the outsides. So yummy. She would often tell me how her mother used to make the same thing except that she’d make her own brown bread and baked beans from scratch.

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