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Recent Posts

  • Fresh Sausage Cured Whole Muscle Meat 105 - Ham Basics

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Injecting Ham Smoked ham What Is Ham?

    Ham is the upper portion of a pig’s hind leg, it will usually be in the range of 16 inches long and around 12 inches wide at the widest point and its weight will vary pretty dramatically. To cook it safely at low temperatures it needs to be cured first and because of the size of the ham injecting it is a better choice than pickling or brining to make sure the cure is evenly distributed.

    Meat Block

    14 lb Uncured Ham
    1 Bag of Country Brown Sugar Cure
    1 lb of California Ham Spice

    Equipment

    Walton’s Automatic Syringe Injector
    Versanet
    Auto-Load Hog Ring Pliers

    Process

    To figure out how much cure and water you will need you will first need to weigh your ham. This ham weighs 14 lb which is known as its green weight. Country Brown Sugar Cure calls for 2 lb of cure to be mixed with 1 gallon of water for a 10% pump. This means that we want to use the appropriate amount of cure and water and then pump 10% of the “green weight” into the ham, so a 14 lb ham will be 15.4 lb after it has been pumped.

    Water

    It is very important to use water that has low microbial levels and low to no chlorine, buying distilled water from your grocery store is a good way to ensure you will not have any issues from the water. If you are using tap water leave it in an uncovered container in a cooler overnight to let any of the gas escape the water.

    Injection Points

    We recommend a 14 point injection for a ham, starting at the thinner side inject near the end once on each side of the bone and then move up the ham making 4 more injections in a straight line until you reach the thicker end. Once you reached the thicker end, which should be your 6th injection, make 8 more evenly spaced injections around the end of the ham in a clockwise direction.

    Cover Brine

    Then we will use the remaining cure solution to cover our ham while we let it sit in the cooler overnight if you used a cure with sodium erythorbate or added it yourself and 3-4 days if you did not. We want this to be a 50% strength solution so our options are, either us the cure at the rate of 1 lb per gallon of water or we can weigh what we have left over from our injection and add whatever it weighs in water so the cure would now be at a 50% strength solution.

    Note

    Next, it needs to be stuffed into a casing like Versanet so that it can then hung in the smokehouse. You can choose to tie this Ham or use Ham Tubing, we like versanet as it is a plastic product that releases easily from the ham after the smoking process.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    1 Hour at 120° with no smoke
    2 Hours 140° and begin smoking
    4 Hours at 190° until internal temperature reaches 145°

    Cooling

    Then hold this at room temperature for 1-2 hours before moving to the refrigerator or vacuum packing it.

    Wrap up

    Now we have a beautiful homemade smoked ham that is going to taste at least as good as anything bought in the store!

    Additional Tips If you had a market hand saw you can make a cut perpendicular to the h-bone on the back of the ham Watch WaltonsTV: Ham Basics Shop waltonsinc.com for Bratwurst Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for High-Temp Cheese Shop waltonsinc.com for Boning Knives

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  • Fresh Sausage Cured Whole Muscle Meat 104 - Bacon Basics

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Bacon Hanger Smoking Bacon What Is Bacon?

    Generally, Bacon is the Belly of a Pig that has been cured and smoked. Bacon is cured using nitrites and for commercial processors, the USDA has limited the amount of ingoing nitrates to 200 parts per million for dry rubbed bacon and 120 ppm for pickled or injected bacon.

    Meat Block

    1 Pork Belly
    1 Bag of Dry Rub Bacon

    Equipment

    Vacuum Sealer (Optional)

    Process

    Dry Rubbed Bacon is the classic way to make bacon. In this process, the outside of the belly is coated in a bacon cure and we rely upon osmosis to bring the cure to the center of the meat and ensure that the entire belly is cured. We normally coat all sides of the bacon but the fat cap generally will not allow the cure to pass through so this is more of a taste thing than a requirement.

    Curing

    After the belly has been rubbed it should be placed in a cooler for 5-7 days to allow the cure to penetrate fully. Some people prefer turning the belly over every day but this is not truly necessary since as we said before, the fat cap will not pass the cure through but if you want to feel free to flip it daily. Place the belly in a large vacuum seal bag and seal it if you want, you can also wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or just put it in an airtight container. The bacon is going to excrete some water during this portion, this isn’t anything to worry about.

    Pre-Smoking Rinse

    Once the 5-7 days have passed you need to rinse it before you smoke it, skip this step at your own peril as without rinsing it you are going to get a very salty bacon. I like to let fresh water run through a meat lug for 20 minutes but if you want to save on water you can fill up a lug, let it sit for 20 minutes and then dump that water, refill it with clean water and let it sit for another 20 minutes. If you skip the rinsing process you will end up with bacon that is too salty to be enjoyable. Even if you like salty bacon you should still rinse it, even if you only rinse it for 10 minutes.

    Note

    Now, go ahead and hang it on your 9" bacon hanger, making sure to leave a few inches above the tines to secure the belly and make sure it doesn’t rip off. Now it’s time to fire up your smoker and cook it. To ensure that you have a safe product you should cook it until it is 138° internal temperature.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Start your smoker at 120° with no smoke for one hour with dampers open, then 120° for an hour with smoke, then 1 hour at 135° then 150° for an hour, then 165° for 80 minutes with no smoke and finally at 180° with no smoke until it reaches 138°

    Cooling

    Once the Bacon has reached 138° remove it from your smoker and put the bacon in an ice bath for 20 minutes to stop the cooking process. Let the bacon cool for 1-2 hours at room temperature before moving it to the fridge or freezer for packaging or slicing.

    Wrap up

    When done right homemade bacon can be a delicious addition to any meal or even a meal on its own. Being able to make your own homemade bacon is a good way to learn the smoking and curing process as it is fairly easy to do and at the end, you have a large amount of delicious, homemade bacon!

    Additional Tips A good slicer is going to save you a lot of grief if you like your bacon sliced thin for cooking If you Belly is too big to fit on your slicer you will need to cut it in half to get it to fit on the carriage Watch WaltonsTV: Bacon Basics Shop waltonsinc.com for Bratwurst Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for High-Temp Cheese Shop waltonsinc.com for Boning Knives

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  • Fresh Sausage Cured Whole Muscle Meat 103 - Curing Large Cuts Of Meat

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Clear Collagen Challenges of Curing Large Cuts

    Curing Large Cuts of meat can be a challenge, as no matter how you do it you are going to have more concerns about even distribution of the cure. This is why when curing larger cuts of meat an injection process is generally recommended. If you try to brine or pickle something the size of a ham you could run into an issue where the cure is going to gas out. You also have the issue of not being able to control exactly how much of the cure and seasoning gets into the meat.

    What Does Gassing Out Mean?

    Gassing out happens when the cure converts to gas and escapes the water before it is able to fully penetrate the meat. The problem with trying to cure larger cuts like a ham with just a pickle or brine is that you are relying solely on osmosis so the skin and fat need to allow the sale, seasoning, and nitrite to pass through them to the center of the ham.

    How To Overcome These Challenges

    Injecting can help you with both of these issues. First, injecting can get your cure deeply and evenly distributed in the meat right away so you aren’t wasting time waiting for the cure to penetrate the meat. This means that the cure is not converting to gas and escaping the brine solution as we are waiting for our meat to cure. It also allows us to be hyper-accurate with the amount of solution that we are getting into our meat. If we need a 10% pump and we have a 20 lb ham we know that if we pump the ham until it weighs 22 lb then we will have the exact amount of cure required.

    Notes

    Even if you inject, you will still need to hold the product overnight and cover it in a 50% solution to allow the cure to equalize in the meat. The best way to create a 50% strength solution is to measure the amount of solution you have left over and add that much weight in water to it. Or you could follow the initial mixing instructions and just add twice as much water as is recommended.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers

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  • Fresh Sausage Cured Whole Muscle Meat 102 - Brining vs Injecting

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Injector and Brining What Is Brining/Pickling?

    Brining and Pickling are terms that are often used interchangeably. Both terms refer to the practice of soaking a whole muscle cut of meat in a solution that contains salt, spices and a cure or curing agent. These methods rely on osmosis to get the solution to penetrate the cellular structure of the meat.

    What is Injecting?

    Injecting is the act of taking a water-soluble solution (one that will fully dissolve in water) and inject that directly into a food item that you plan on cooking. There are many different types of injectors used in meat processing, from small syringe-like injectors up to large-scale commercial equipment. You can inject cures, marinades or additives directly into your meat.

    Benefits of Brining

    This is the traditional, or old world way of curing meat. Some will argue that it imparts a superior flavor and that the cure is more evenly distributed throughout the meat. You can also use particles that are too large to flow through an injector when brining, the particle still will not go into the meat but some of the flavors will.

    Benefits of Injecting

    By injecting your solution directly into the meat you are greatly speeding up the process. A normal cure will penetrate at a rate of about 1 inch per day, so you while you might be waiting 5-7 days for a ham to be ready when brining you are ready to smoke or cook just hours after injecting.

    Other Methods

    Multi-Needle Injectors - These are machines that will inject a solution, sometimes a cure, through many needles deep into the muscle. These can be large commercials machines like the Promarks MSK-195 Brine Injector or a simple attachment to a Stainless Steel Injector Unit

    Vacuum Tumbling - A large-scale commercial operation will often inject a solution with a Multi-Needle Injector and then vacuum tumble it for a short period of time and then go directly to the smokehouse. This takes the cure time for a large ham from 5-7 days down to a few short hours.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers

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  • Fresh Sausage Cured Whole Muscle Meat 101 - What Is It?

    Attend this entry level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Bacon What Is Cured Whole Muscle Meat?

    Cured whole muscle meats are any whole muscle cut of meat that you are going to cure and cook. Popular examples of this would be Bacon and Hams. Generally, these are larger thicker cuts of meat that we want to cook slowly so curing allows us to make sure the meat stays safe through the cooking process and we sometimes need to use different methods to effectively apply the cure.

    Curing Bacon

    When curing bacon you can inject the cure directly into the belly or rub the outside of the belly with a cure and allow osmosis to bring to the cure to the center of the meat. Since bellies are generally a thinner cut of meat either of these methods, as well as vacuum tumbling, works perfectly fine.

    Curing Ham

    When we start talking about thicker cuts of meat, like a ham, we need to either change the cure we are going to be using or change the method of introducing the cure. Dry rubbing a thick cut like this with a normal cure is going to cause problems as the cure might lose it’s effectiveness before it fully penetrates the meat, for this reason, we always prefer to inject large whole muscle meats with the cure solution and then follow that up with vacuum tumbling or brining in a 50% strength solution.

    Holding Period

    The meat must then be held to allow the cure to work in the meat. If you are using a traditional cure that contains Nitrites and no additives then you will hold it for 5-7 days after injecting, or if you are using a cure accelerator you need to hold it overnight or if you are vacuum tumbling you can go almost directly to the smokehouse.

    Cooking

    Since these cuts have been cured with Nitrates or Nitrites they can be slow smoked and since the cuts are so thick cooking times can be extreme. It is not uncommon for hams to take over 12 hours to be fully cooked.

    Storage

    Cured and fully cooked meats still need to be stored in the refrigerator, for the longest shelf life they should be vacuum packed first.

    Shop waltonsinc.com for Vertical Smokers Shop waltonsinc.com for American BBQ Systems Smokers

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