How To Make Homemade Smoked Ham - Recipe
Learn how to make homemade smoked hams with Walton's and Meatgistics. Read the highlights here, and then post your comments or questions below.
What Is A Ham?
Ham comes from the upper portion of a pig’s hind leg. It is made into a smoked and cured meat product by salting, curing, or injecting and then smoking. It can be made as a whole muscle meat product or it can be made into a boneless re-structured product. This recipe will cover making a whole bone-in ham.
24 lb Bone-in ham
Excalibur Country Brown Sugar Cure
2 oz California Ham Spice
6 oz Sure Gel (optional and somewhat redundant if using cold phosphate)
0.24 oz Sodium Erythorbate
2 oz Cold Phosphate
2 gallons Ice Cold Water (38° F or less)
Process (Inject or Brine)
Water - Before you prepare your brine or pickle there are a few things we need to point out about the water you are going to use. At the time of preparation, the water needs to be between 29 and 35 degrees F, and it should not be “hard” water and must be purified or potable water, so very low microbial levels. We recommend using either distilled or purified water, but tap water can be used but it should be placed in the refrigerator overnight to allow it to cool down to around 35 degrees and allow any added chlorine to evaporate and not be added to your meat product.
Injection - To prepare the injection first dissolve 2 oz of Cold Phosphate and 6 oz of Sure Gel for every 25 lb of Ham you are curing in 2 gallons of cold water and mix until it is totally dissolved. The phosphate must be the first ingredient added for it to be effective. Then add 2 lb of the Country Brown Sugar Cure, .5 oz of California Ham spice and .015 lb (.24 ounces) of sodium erythorbate and inject the ham until it is 20% of its green weight. For example, a 20 lb ham should weigh 24 lb after pumping. We recommend a 14 point injection for a ham, starting at the thinner side inject near the end once on each side 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. Once you are done injecting you need to create a 50% strength pickle to cover your ham in while it cures in the cooler. To do this mix 1 lb of Country Brown Sugar Cure with 2 gallons of cold water and hold the ham overnight in a cooler around 38°.
If you are not injecting follow the below steps, if you inject you do not need to brine as well. Skip to Holding
Brining - Submerge ham into a solution containing 1 lb of Country Brown Sugar Cure per 1 gallon of water. Hold in the refrigerator or cooler for 5 to 7 days. Thoroughly rinse the ham, place in meat netting, and hang in the smokehouse to cook.
Holding - When we make products at Walton’s, we find the easiest container to use for any type of brining, curing, marinating, or soaking of meat products, to be done with a combination of our Stark Marinating Bucket Liners and our Food Safe Storage Containers and Marinating Buckets. Simply place a Stark Bucket Liner in the Food Storage Container, place our ham into the bucket liner, pour in enough cover brine solution to completely cover the ham, grab the excess part of the liner and squeeze out any air, and then tie the end of the bucket liner closed. Next, place the lid on the container, and then we can place the whole thing in our refrigerator overnight.
Stuff the ham into a casing like Ham Tubing or Versanet and hang in the smokehouse. The Versanet is flexible enough to easily fit over the ham without needing a Roast Tyer.
Thermal Processing & Smoking
Stage 1 - Set smokehouse temp to 120° F for 1 hour
Stage 2 - Start smoke and increase smokehouse temp to 140° F for 2 hours
Stage 3 - Increase smokehouse temp to 150° F for 2 hours
Stage 4 - Increase smokehouse temp to 160° F for 4 hours
Stage 5 - Increase smokehouse temp to 190° F and cook until internal meat temp reaches 160° F (145° is fine to cook ham to as well, leaving the 160 on there as some people still do this but 145° is perfectly fine)
Stage 6 - Shower ham with water to cool product quickly and lower internal temp to 115° F or less*
After showering or placing in an ice water bath hold at room temp for approximately 1 to 2 hours before moving to the refrigerator or vacuum packaging
- To increase your humidity for a better looking final product, place a small pan of water in the bottom of the smokehouse or oven during the entire cooking cycle
- If you cannot shower the product, instead place into an ice water bath to lower the internal meat temperature
- If you are cooking in an oven and cannot add smoke, trying using Hickory Smoke Powder as a substitute
- While a traditional cover brine or pickle can be done with hams it is very difficult to do correctly because of the thickness of the ham. Often, the cure in the brine will “gas out”, which means before the cure and nitrites can fully penetrate to the center of the ham, the nitrite will break down into nitric oxide gas before it can penetrate all the way to the center of the ham, and then it is released from the brine into the air. The best way to make a properly cured ham at home is to inject it.
- Sure Gel and Cold Phosphate together aren’t really necessary and it can be argued that they don’t compliment each other well. We have used both together to good effect in the past but we want to point out that some don’t like this combination *
Try Using Other Excalibur Seasoning Cures
You can use other types of cures for a different flavor profile. Use the same process as described above, but change the cure usage per the specific requirements of the other cures