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Ham Brining 101 (and Bacon)

jaywalker

New member
Hello everyone, I've trolled for awhile. If i could get a little clarification on one thing. If I smoke the ham to 150 and put it in the fridge for a couple of days as described and roast it in the oven do I then take it to 165 or do I consider it a fully cooked ham and heat it like it were a bought precooked ham. Thanks, Jay.
 

Huey

New member
Amazing Ham recipe - 22lb ham

Hello,
first I wanted to thank the author of this thread. This was my first venture curing/brining a ham and learned almost everything I needed from this post. I wanted to share the process/recipe I followed, since I was doing a rather large bone-in ham and wasn't really finding specific answers I needed for a ham that large, so I kind of had to extrapolate all the info and hope it worked out.

First: I removed all the skin and fat cap from the ham. Along with the aitch bone.
Second: Injected the ham with the calculated amount of brine based on 10% pump
Third: placed ham in brine solution and left in refrigerator for 10 days.
Fourth: Using my Pellet Smoker, set temperature to 160-190 (it was a very cold night so the grill temp fluctuated quite a bit), and smoked until ham reached 160. took about 16 hours. reminder this was a 22lb ham and was 6-7 inches thick. definitely noticed the stall, it sat at 140 for about 7 hours.

Here is bit more specifics about the recipe I used. (All this was calculated from the formulas I got off this thread).

I ended up needing 3 gallons of brine to completely submerge ham. Also, used a brining bag to prevent having to make 5-6 gallons of brine.

Brine recipe for 1 Gallon of brine:
1 Gallon distilled water (i was too lazy to boil it and wait for it to cool).
1.5 cups salt (used canning and pickling salt)
1.5 cups brown sugar
4 tablespoons of curing salt (make sure to order ahead of time from internet, I ended up having to go to Williams and Sonoma and paid WAY too much for the amount I needed).

I followed the formulas for the 10% pump since I had about 10 days til I was planning to serve it and that seemed the most fitting. From what I deciphered, I injected approximately a little more than a half gallon. the formula gave me an exact number, but it was close to a half gallon.

When it came to figuring out how long it was going to take to smoke, I was completely in the dark. But I kept reading how you could bake it at 325 for a few hours or slow smoke it at <200. So I just took the mindset, that I slow smoke overnight and then in the morning assess it and alter from there. Worst case, if I was three hours from dinner time, and not close to finished, I would just take off smoker and finish it in the oven at 325-350. I gambled that 8 hours at 180 would not bring it to 160. I was definitely correct. I think it was at like 130 when I woke up. then stall kicked in and it sat at 140 for 5-7 hours, finally breaking free and then rose to 160 in the final two hours. (though I think I did crank the temp up to 225-250.

So after all that...HAM WAS AMAZING!!! juicy perfectly cooked, great consistent flavor throughout, not overly smoky. was a bit salty for my taste, but not for everyone at the party. I'm going to be doing another ham in a week or so and this time I'll have less time to brine it, so I'm hoping a few adjustements to calculations and some tweaks to the saltiness level and I think I'll have another great ham.

sorry for the long post. And thanks again for all the great info.

Huey
 

sslemos

New member
HELP!! I just picked up a 24 1/2lb green ham for xmas and I'm overwhelmed by all the info on this page. Could someone please let me know how long I should brine this baby for? I'm shooting for average salt level and distinct sweetness. I'm so worried I'm going to screw this up because I was expecting a 14lb ham...I have the salts, brining bags and food grade pail but no injector...
 

u06jgg

New member
Thanks

Thank you Cliff for a brilliant post.

As a relatively new small holder, I just slaughtered my first pig and had the whole thing to deal with. It was absolute carnage taking 4 days flat out to fully process. I could not find a definitive approach to getting the ham right, despite having a book or two on Polish sausages there was no mention of whole meat products. Yes I should have been better prepared but its amazing how the deadlines for one project after another rush up.

Convincing myself that juicy pink ham would come out the smoker at the end, and not dry (or raw) roast pork was my main concern, and your post, while not putting my fears to rest certainly gave me answers to all my questions in 1 place and made me feel like I had a fighting chance. So thanks. It really helped.

And the results... more than half of my pig has been smoked to become various forms of ham/bacon/sausages and boczek. I have a Polish connection so much of what I did was in the Polish style and will be eaten as sandwich ham. Including smoked loins (Sopocka) which are incredible.

Everything worked perfectly except my biggest ham which was boned and rolled, injected and wet cured. It came out the smoker with an uncured spot in the center. Given that this was my own pig, I really am loathe to throw it away. It is currently residing in my freezer. Please someone tell me I can eat this. Pretty sure my Polish connection will eat it anyway...
 
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TentHunter

Moderator
Thank you Cliff for a brilliant post.


Everything worked perfectly except my biggest ham which was boned and rolled, injected and wet cured. It came out the smoker with an uncured spot in the center. Given that this was my own pig, I really am loathe to throw it away. It is currently residing in my freezer. Please someone tell me I can eat this. Pretty sure my Polish connection will eat it anyway...


First, Thank YOU for the kind words, and I'm glad you found it helpful!

Second, yes, as long as that uncured spot was cooked, it should be absolutely fine. It just won't be cured like the rest of it, so you will need to follow regular safety precautions like you would any other pork cut that's not cured.



Did you get any pics to show how it turned out?
 

duongdoanh

New member
Thank you Cliff for a brilliant post.

As a relatively new small holder, I just slaughtered my first pig and had the whole thing to deal with. It was absolute carnage taking 4 days flat out to fully process. I could not find a definitive approach to getting the ham right, despite having a book or two on Polish sausages there was no mention of whole meat products. Yes I should have been better prepared but its amazing how the deadlines for one project after another rush up.

Convincing myself that juicy pink ham would come out the smoker at the end, and not dry (or raw) roast pork was my main concern, and your post, while not putting my fears to rest certainly gave me answers to all my questions in 1 place and made me feel like I had a fighting chance. So thanks. It really helped.

And the results... more than half of my pig has been smoked to become various forms of ham/bacon/sausages and boczek. I have a Polish connection so much of what I did was in the Polish style and will be eaten as sandwich ham. Including smoked loins (Sopocka) which are incredible.

Everything worked perfectly except my biggest ham which was boned and rolled, injected and wet cured. It came out the smoker with an uncured spot in the center. Given that this was my own pig, I really am loathe to throw it away. It is currently residing in my freezer. Please someone tell me I can eat this. Pretty sure my Polish connection will eat it anyway...
 

rockyballbuster

New member
I don't see why not, but personally I would smoke it to 150° then freeze it. That way it's considered fully cooked (just like the hams you buy in the grocery store).

Thanks for the quick reply. That makes sense. My concern is that the first cook could be a bit difficult to time without any uncertainty for a gathering.
 

TentHunter

Moderator
Everything worked perfectly except my biggest ham which was boned and rolled, injected and wet cured. It came out the smoker with an uncured spot in the center. Given that this was my own pig, I really am loathe to throw it away. It is currently residing in my freezer. Please someone tell me I can eat this. Pretty sure my Polish connection will eat it anyway...

First, Thank you for your kind words. I could swear I replied to this post last year, and am not sure what happened. Perhaps I got sidetracked and didn't click the "Post Reply" button (Lord knows it wouldn't be the first time :rolleyes:).

I am glad you found the info useful.


On to your question:

Yes, even though the non-pink parts indicate an incomplete cure, in most cases if this happens the roast/ham is still perfectly fine to eat, provided it was heated to safe food temperatures, and was not spoiled to begin with. The uncured (non-pink) parts will be more like a regular pork roast, instead of being hammy. Those areas are also more prone to spoilage, so eat those sections sooner rather than later!

The only way it wouldn't have been okay is if you'd used a weak brine (not enough salt), and left the roast in the brine for an extended period, increasing the chance of bone sour and/or spoilage. Based on what you posted, I doubt that was the case.
 

Smokerguy

New member
I hope this thread is still monitored, as I don't want to screw up my easter ham. I followed the directions the best I could, and triple checked my math, but in the end I felt like I added waaaaay to much pink salt than necessary. (I am using PP#1).

Long story short I have an 11.5 LB fresh ham.

The instructions say that with a 10% pump/injection, that the ham should be cured in 6 to 10 days.

I want the ham cured in roughly 12-13 days. As that will leave me with a day or two for a freshwater soak, to knock off a little bit of the salt. So I did the math and decided on a 7.5% injection.

I'm using 1.5 gallons of water. The regular salt and sugar measured out no problem. But on the pink salt, here is my confusion....
According to the charts, it should be 73 grams of pink salt for every gallon of water if you want a 10% injection. If I wanted a 5% injection then that number should be doubled, at 146 grams per gallon. So if I did this right, then 7.5% should be 146 X .75 = 109.5 grams per gallon. So for 1.5 gallons that works out to be 109.5 X 1.5 = 164.25 grams of pink salt for 1.5 gallons of water. When I measured it all out on the scale it looked like a TON of salt. Although that sounds like a lot, and looked like a lot, if I reference this website here - The ham has certainly evolved a long wa They are calling for 120G of PP#1 per gallon of brine, so my numbers don't feel that wrong when looking at that, but I don't want to screw this up (or make people sick)

My brine is going to take hours to cool so i'm hoping this thread is still monitored. I would rather throw out my brine and start over vs screwing up a 30 dollar ham. If you guys are still here, thanks so much.
 

TentHunter

Moderator
Unfortunately, I was out of town when you posted this. The good news is, based on what you posted, you should be fine and will probably be amazed at just how simple this was and how rewarding the results will be!




Let's take this one step at a time:

First, I'm very familiar with the website you referenced. Their numbers/curing times align with what I give. The main difference is they are shooting for the government max of 200 ppm nitrite, whereas I shoot for the minimum 120 ppm to give some fudge room.

For future reference an extra day or two in the brine at 10% wouldn't have hurt at all. You could also have taken the ham out of the brine and let it equalize in a covered container in the fridge for a day or two. With a 7.5% injection it will just take a little longer for the cure to do its job, and for salt to penetrate, but you should be fine. Hopefully you injected well around the bone, and in the thickest parts of the ham.



For a 7.5% injection the math works like this (reference the chart): 0.000120 x 3778 / .0625 / 0.075 = 96.71g cure #1 per gallon (97 grams or about 16 tsp per gallon).

Your 109g cure #1 per gallon at 7.5& pump will give you approximately 135ppm which is still well within tolerances, so you should be perfectly fine. And THAT is why I like to shoot for 120ppm and not the max 200 ppm! ;)


Soaking:

A two-day fresh-water soak is a long one and may take too much salt out leaving your ham bland tasting. If you followed my recipe (adjusting only the cure #1) I suspect you may not even need a fresh water soak.


HOWEVER... Salt level is a VERY subjective thing and the only way to know for sure is to test it first!

Before doing a soak, or dumping out the brine, slice off a piece, cook it and see how you and your family likes the flavor (salt level). KEEP IN MIND that since you did such a light injection it will be saltier on the outside than it will be near the center!

If it needs more salt put it back in the brine for a couple more days.

If the flavor/salt level is good or just barely too salty, then I would NOT soak it at all. I'd put it in a clean covered container (no brine), in the fridge for a day or so to let the salt equalize throughout the ham.


Only if you think it's WAY too salty would I do a soak, and It would only be for a few hours, then I'd retest and repeat if needed.


After testing just put the ham back into a covered container in the fridge until you're ready to smoke it. It will simply continue to equalize.

Hope this makes sense. Don't hesitate to ask!
 
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Smokerguy

New member
Thank you so much for your response. I guess i'll know in 2 weeks how it came out. I have cured pig belly for bacon before, and I have cured briskets to make both corn beef and pastrami, but I have never cured large ham like this before so I wasn't 100% sure on the salt ratios. I'll come back when it's done with some before and after pictures.
 

steveastrouk

New member
Just put our second ham down into brine yesterday after the great success of our first, last year. This is a 17 pounder, with a 20% pump, and 120ppm target nitrite.

Am I correct in thinking there is no harm in leaving it in the brine for longer than the suggested time ? It can't get any saltier than the brine its in, and it a 12% solution.

Thanks for answering my first post here !
 

TentHunter

Moderator
Just put our second ham down into brine yesterday after the great success of our first, last year. This is a 17 pounder, with a 20% pump, and 120ppm target nitrite.

Am I correct in thinking there is no harm in leaving it in the brine for longer than the suggested time ? It can't get any saltier than the brine its in, and it a 12% solution.

Thanks for answering my first post here !

You are correct! Once equalization has been reached it won't get any more/less salty.

If you can get some pics to post in a thread that'd be super!
 

TentHunter

Moderator
TentHunter, would any of your bacon recipes work for beef navel to make a "kosher" bacon?

Yep. Any of them would work to make a Kosher-style bacon from either beef or lamb.


I've done beef bacon, and it was delicious! If you can't find a beef navel labeled as such, find a local butcher who can sell you some untrimmed short ribs. They're from the same area.
 

BBQJUDGE

Member
Yep. Any of them would work to make a Kosher-style bacon from either beef or lamb.


I've done beef bacon, and it was delicious! If you can't find a beef navel labeled as such, find a local butcher who can sell you some untrimmed short ribs. They're from the same area.

Thanks, Tent! I was wondering how I was going to get my hands on beef navel. I haven't looked yet. I'll keep untrimmed short ribs in mind.
 

Rathmel

New member
My first attempt turned out salty than I like . Due to a family emergency my ham was in brine for 11 days instead of 7. Would this effect the saltyness or should I just cut back on it. I used 1 1/2 salt 3/4 brown sugar,gal water 2 tbs cure 2 lb venison tip roast. Thank you in advance
 
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