How to cure elk into ham

  • I have two Elk tenderloins that I’m looking into using a ham cure. Last elk camp one of the guys brought some for snacks and it was incredible. Tastes just like ham with a more rich flavor.
    He said it was a brine method, and didn’t remember where he got the cure, so the search is on.
    Not really looking for the 3 week method, as these tenders are about 2 lb each. He said he tried the bacon cure on one batch, and it was too salty, then tried the ham cure and it turned out great.

  • Admin

    You could either use a cover brine, or you could inject the tenderloins with a brine and cure.
    I’d recommend using the Country Brown Sugar Cure and it is definitely the most popular one to use too. That is a ham cure as well. If you do want to try a bacon cure, the most popular bacon cure is Blue Ribbon Maple Bacon.
    If you want to use a cover brine, just use 1lb of cure per 1 gallon of water to submerge and soak the tenderloin for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. At the end of 3-4 days, remove from the brine, rinse, and then you can proceed with smoking.
    Or, you could inject the loins. With injecting, you would want to use 2 lb of Country Brown Cure per 1 gallon of water. You can inject 10% of the total weight of the meat into loins with the cure solution. So if you have 10 lb of tenderloin, inject them with 1 lb of water mixed with 3.2 ounces of cure. After injecting, simply hold overnight in the fridge and then you can smoke and cook it the next day. You should be fine to use the same process for either the ham or bacon cure.

    Let us know if you have any more questions we can help with!

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  • @KSHusker First, yes they should be safe to eat. You cooked them to 160° which will kill anything harmful. Now, obviously use common sense and your senses, if it smells bad don’t eat it!

    The first thing to know is if you used sure cure (or another version) or not? From the sounds of it, you did but I just want to make sure we are looking at all possibilities. Were the butts untrimmed? If they had a nice fat cap on them then you should have been okay, I still like to use a little more fat than that but you should have been in the realm. How did you mix it, was it by hand? If you mixed for 30 minutes in a meat mixer that is a long time to be mixing it (I don’t think this was your issue, just pointing it out). Starting at 200 is a little high but it also sounds like it came down to 180° pretty quickly but this would be my thought on why the casing stuck, cooking too high can cause this.

    For the color, the only thing I can think of (if you used a cure) is that it looks pinker around the edges because you got a nice smoke ring around it? How deep does the nice pink color go and what type of casing did you use? With wild game, I always use some sort of cure accelerator, either Encapsulated Citric Acid, Smoked Meat Stabilizer or something, it helps burn the color more and then you can skip holding it overnight and go right from stuffing to the smokehouse.

    Anyone else have thoughts?

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