Skip to main content

I buy hogs locally and butcher them myself, so I have fresh hams to deal with. I have tried morton sugar cure with terrible results. I'm thinking about trying cadillac's recipe for curing bacon on fresh ham. It's one table spoon of tender quick, two tables spoons of dark brown sugar with one table spoon of peppercorns finely ground per pound of meat. Will this work on fresh ham? How many applications would this take and how long to leave in the fridg? I'm open to any suggestions on curing fresh ham.
I make my own bread and use a gram scale and a thermapen instant read thermometer. I know this sounds like being really picky, but my bread book recommends weighing out the ingredients in grams so I use it weighing out my ingredients for making my curing recipe. I use the thermapen to take temp readings. It's pricy but very accurate and gives you a reading instantly. This is being picky too, but I've noticed that meat in the fridg has different temps from one rack to another. I have my fridg set so the average temp is 37 degrees. Just thought I'd pass these two little things along.
Original Post

Replies sorted oldest to newest

Gary, I am in no way an expert, I have 17lbs of bacon curing in the fridge right now (my first pork curing experience), what I have found is

There is a book that I bought called charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman & Brian Polcyn, I believe it was recommended on here, cant remember. They go into great detail about salted cured air-dried ham. They cover a 12-15lb ham in 4 lbs of salt and flavorings/apices then refridgerate it for 1 day per lb. They place it in a nonreactive roasting pan or plastic tub, cover with plastic wrap and weight the ham down with about 10lbs of cans or bricks. They pour off all the excess water and resalt areas if necessary. The rest gets complicated with wrapping and hanging for up to a year...

Well, what you can take away from that is it says to cure for 1 day per pound of meat. There are a few other recipes that they list and they say one day per pound of meat. They say to check it and make sure it is firm before you finish curing it. I suggest this book because if you butcher your own hog, there are so many recipes for pork. Check the book out on Amazon, there were a lot of good reviews. If you would like, PM me and I can type up the instructions for their Blackstrap Molasses Country Ham right from the book.
Hi Vicki,

Thanks for the message. I'm not an expert either and I've only butchered five hogs. I'll check out the book you suggested. I order a LOT of stuff from amazon.
I've read a few articles on curing hams and some say the curing process takes over a year. I would be willing to try that but I just don't see how the ham could be anything but dry, tough and salty as all get out!
My son brought home a couple wild hogs he killed in Arkansas. They were both sows at about 175 pounds and he kept them on ice so I butchered them. I got in a big hurry and didn't weight out the curing salt when I applied it to the bacon slabs and the hams. I used morton sugar cure. Needless to say I ruined the bacon. After 10 days of curing the hams with two applications of sugar cure I sliced off a chuck and fried it. It was too salty and really not fit to eat. I was about ready to pitch them and thought I'd see what I could find out online first. Most said soaking in cold water would help but one woman said to soak them in white soda. I cleaned out a 5 gallon bucket real good and put the 4 hams in it and covered them with 7 up. I put them in the fridg over night and the next morning drained and replaced the soda for another 4 hours. I used 6 large bottles of soda that cost me $6. I fried a couple pieces of the ham and could not believe that the salty taste was completely gone. I saved 45 pounds of ham for $6. I think I would have had good results with less time in the soda, but if you ever run into salty pork this really works.
Thanks again for the info on the book and good luck with your bacon.

There is three basic ways to cure a ham, with endless variations of each. The Country Ham, which Vicki speaks of, is the dried ham. My grand parents used to do Country Hams, it is a long process. You will use lots of salts, salt pedre and a lot of drying. My grand parents used to hang their Hams in the attic for storage, because the heat in Kansas would not allow any flies to get on them. When they are ready to be eaten you will have to rehydrate them over a few day processes. I have never tried a ham this way, but will one of these days. The other method used before refrigeration is soaking the ham in brine, in a large crock in the basement at room temp. You mentioned the refrigerator, so I am going to tell you how I do one in the refrigerator.
I have used the Mortons tenderquick, it works fine. Use a pound of TD per gallon of water. Add a small amount of sugar if you wish, but do not get carried away. You will not get the nice color when cooking if you have too much sugars. Mix the TD and sugars in warm water until dissolved. The hams are too deep for the brine to reach the center, so injections are needed.
Your first and last injection is in the large artery, located on the top end next to the bone. Carefully insert you needle as deep as possible with out breaking the sides, pinch the top around the needle and force all of the brine as possible into the artery, be patient and hold pressure for a short while. Inject the brine in a pattern of every three inches, around 12 – 15 sites. Insert the needle as far as possible, then pull the needle out almost all the way and then reinsert it different directions at a 45 degree angle. After all the injections are complete re-inject the large artery. With a commercial pump at 25 psi you can inject an entire ham with the large artery.
Dry off the ham, rub it with the TD and Sugar and insert it in a food grade bag, refrigerate at 37 degrees, turning twice daily for 10 to 14 days. When you are ready to smoke the ham, remove it and rinse but do not soak the ham. Dry it off and hang it in a net bag in the smoker. Smoke it slow and bring the internal temp to 145. Let the ham rest for at least a day in the fridge before cutting to a more usable size.
A few thoughts; It is important to cool the freshly harvested pork to an internal temp of 40 or below before starting the brining, which could take several days. Never use tap water which contains chlorine in any brine, use distilled or let tap water set for 24 hours in an open container to allow the chlorine to evaporate, so you are not injecting chlorine into the meat. Use additional sugars very sparingly. I love pepper but never have used it in a ham cure.
Hi Gary, I am glad you saved the hams. I didn't know you had not soaked them. When you said White Soda, did you mean the clear kind you drink, like a sprite or other lemon lime flavor? I never heard that, it is very interesting (of course I have not been doing this long.) You can use water next time too! Maybe the carbonation helps. I know when I did salmon I soaked it under cold running water for about an hour. Hams would definitely need more.

I love to use a scale to measure out ingredients for my baking and cooking. I also use a thermapen for temps, aren't they great!

What bread cook book do you use???
Hi Vicky,
I did soak the hams in luke warm water after rinsing off first for one hour, but I just used too much salt. You can use any white soda, sprite, 7 up, mello yellow, etc. I just used 7 up because it was cheaper.
The bread book I use is The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Reinhart. Amazon has it in stock for $20.03. It's a really good book and he goes into a LOT of detail. All of the recipes are time consuming, but the end result is worth it. I use a gram scale to weight out ingredients and it might be a little over kill, but I haven't had a flop yet. I mostly make white bread, whole wheat bread and sticky buns. I add a little cinnamon and pecans to the white bread. His recipe for sticky buns along with his wife's recipe for the syrup is out of this world. I make 48 of them at a time and freeze. Heck, in the last 8 months I've gone through 200 pounds of flour.
You love your bread for sure Big Grin

How would you feel about posting that recipe for the sticky buns???

I have a Zo bread maker and love it. I do make bread in the oven, but only a few times a year because of the kneading necessary. I have a slight case of carpel tunnel and my hands and wrists always wind of aching the next day. Although I should start using the Zo or my Kitchen Aid for the kneading (I have the heavy duty pro series so I know it can handle it.) How do you knead your bread?
Originally posted by Gary Bates:
Do you need to inject any more times after the initial injecting? Is their any difference in the salty taste between day 10 through day 14?

No you will not inject again, some will rerub the ham after the 5th day. As for the meat obtaining a more salty taste after more days, no. When you see directions, for an example "7 to 10 days", that does not mean you have a three day window for your day off work. It is an indicator that the meat will probably be ready to smoke during that time period. As the ham cures it will draw the moisture out, when the ham has the feel of a "well done cooked steak", then the ham is dried out enough to smoke. The time can vary greatly unless you are using the same cure and the same type of hog each time. A hog that has less fat internally will cure out faster. The amount of brine pumped into the ham, humidity and curing temps will all affect the curing times. If you go longer after it is ready by a few days, it will continual to dry out and may be a little dry when cooked.

Just a note on tenerquick, it calls for one cup per quart of water for injections, I use one cup per gallon. If you are wanting to do a country ham where you dry it out like a board, then use their formula. But for this type of curing it will dry out your ham to fast, the meat will be to dry and a very strong taste.

hope that is helpful.
Thanks everyone,
Yes KS Q your post is very helpful.
I was going to buy two slabs of bacon to cure and everyone wanted $3/pound for fresh sides. A slab weighs usually between 18 and 20 pounds so thats about $114. I bought a 280 pound guilt yesterday for $131. I should end up with about 160 pounds of usable meat, so I'll have 81 cents/pound invested. I got a deal on the hog and the scales were off that we weighed her on, so I came out on the good side. He charged me 57 cents per pound of live weight. I know most people don't have the means to butcher their own hogs, but I guess I am fortunate because I do. I skinned and gutted her yesterday evening and it got down to 34 degrees here last night, so I'll butcher her today.
Hey Vicky, sure I'll post the sticky bun recipe. When I get a chance I'll post it for you. I have an assistent DLX N28 mixer that I use to kneed my bread with. It was a little pricy, but it wi;; handle up to 15 pounds of dough at a time.

Add Reply

Link copied to your clipboard.