I’ve just completed a course in ham loaf, taught by seven of you. If I had ever had ham loaf before now, I didn’t remember it. I think it is worth repeating, though, and I was happy to see how flexible it could be.

One thing I learned was that most of the time, but not always, ham loaf has some other fresh meat in it. From Hope, Eileen Benemann’s recipe called for all ham, as did Nancy Spooner’s from Amherst. Neila Ambrose of Millinocket sent along two recipes, one of which called for ground turkey plus ham. Pam Taylor in Bangor sent a recipe that added ground beef to ham. Ground pork appeared in Bangor resident Anna Guesman’s recipe, and in Trenton resident Joyce Kelley’s too.

Another thing I learned was that ham loaf benefits from an association with fruit or sweetness. Nancy Spooner’s recipe called for brown sugar and pineapple patted into the loaf pan and the meat mixture put on top, then after baking, it is turned out — sort of a pineapple upside down loaf.

Eileen Benemann suggested that you could add pineapple to her recipe for the loaf, as an option, then spread a glaze of pineapple juice and brown sugar over it.

One of Neila’s recipes calls for a sauce made from fresh cranberries, some of which is stirred into the loaf mixture, and the rest spread over the top for baking. She makes hers in a pie plate. A glaze of brown sugar, mustard and vinegar poured over the loaf before baking or served on the side was a minimum requirement.

One recipe we tried had a glaze of brown sugar, vinegar and water poured over the top and it baked into a pretty luscious glaze that went over very well in our household. We joked that I ought to bake the loaf in a big flat pan, and double the glaze to make a kind of ham cake with brown sugar glaze frosting.

Anna Guesman’s recipe, however, called for crushed graham crackers and corn flakes instead of bread crumbs or plain cracker crumbs, and that would add sweetness, for sure. She tops hers with a brown sugar, mustard, vinegar glaze as well. I noticed all kinds of other crumbs from dry bread to soft bread to crackers.

Pam Taylor adds tomato soup to moisten hers, and Nancy Spooner’s called for mayonnaise. Joyce Kelley’s calls for evaporated milk. Most called for an egg, usually two. Onion, mustard, parsley, cloves, salt and pepper were the usual seasonings. Kelley’s called for celery, green pepper and onion.

Eileen Benemann had a neat suggestion: Mix mashed potatoes into the meat loaf mixture, chill it, and make it into patties to fry in an inch of oil.

Deciding which recipe to use here was such a problem. I decided I would give you one with both ham and fresh meat and the simple glaze, and also include a recipe for a ham-only loaf and include directions for making the pineapple glaze. That way, you can mix and match depending on what you have and like.

This first loaf recipe is based on one that my very dear friend Ginny Hall, now of Maryland, passed along to me by island neighbor Ruth Hartley.

Ham Loaf I

Yields six to eight servings


1 pound ground ham

1 pound ground pork

1 cup coarse cracker crumbs

2 eggs

One small onion finely chopped

½ cup milk


½ cup brown sugar

¼ cup vinegar

1/3 cup water

1 tablespoon dry mustard

Preheat oven to 400° F. Mix loaf ingredients together very well, and pack into greased loaf pan. Mix together glaze ingredients and pour over ham loaf. Bake for 1½ hours.

Ham Loaf II

Yields four servings

2 cups ground cooked ham

1 tablespoon chopped onion (or more to taste)

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon dry mustard (or more to taste)

1 beaten egg

¼ cup milk

½ cup fine dry bread crumbs

Mayonnaise enough to bind it

Pineapple Glaze

2-3 tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup canned crushed pineapple, well drained

Mix sugar and pineapple to-gether and pat into bottom of a loaf pan. Turn in the ham mixture and bake in 350° F oven for an hour. Allow to cool for 15 minutes, then turn out on a platter.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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Sandy Oliver, Taste Buds

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working...