Cured Whole Muscle Meat 105 - Ham Basics
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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°
Then hold this at room temperature for 1-2 hours before moving to the refrigerator or vacuum packing it.
Now we have a beautiful homemade smoked ham that is going to taste at least as good as anything bought in the store!
- 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
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Could the ham be hung and dried at this point without thermal processing to produce a country ham or prosciutto style?
@lholder We don’t do much dry curing and haven’t done any on hams. The process we have above is for smoked hams and I’m not totally sure what the different steps needed for making a dry-cured ham would be. I talked to our application specialist though and he did have some input on this, I am going to send that to you in a separate email. Hopefully, that information will help!
I do it all the time. Still remember my mom saying it’s not a good idea. I’m sure if you are buying a nice steak and intend it eat it as a grilled T-bone you might notice some flesh cell break down (texture change). If you are going to use it in sausage you will not notice any difference. Made brats last night. Once frozen pork and elk. Refroze the brats. I do it time and time again.
Here is a link to a website that has a handy Excel spreadsheet. It is, as it says a free non-commercial site.
As for Waltons dropping the ball, I vote they are doing a great job.
I think for all of us there are general guidelines, but unless you have a temperature and humidity controlled environment, both for the preparation, cooking (if you cook them) smoking, hanging etc, the results are bound to vary from batch to batch.
Personally, I am searching how to get my home made smoked and dry cured pepperoni to the exact texture and firmness of Margarita pepperoni from the store.
Through trial and error I have the flavor where I want it, but not the texture or firmness. I know time, temperature and humidity are all crucial, but the best I can do is in the basement and then subject to the environment that is there.
I figure as long as I am not killing anyone or making anyone sick I am making progress. Thanks Waltons for all of the great information so far.
Having said that, it would be nice to have your chart in an Excel spreadsheet.
Thanks Jonathon! One question tho! You eluded to 178 being high for a temp! Don’t you guys recommend setting the temp at 175 during the final stage to completion to internal temp? Three degrees shouldn’t make that much difference should it??
Sounds reasonable. Thanks for your input. Pulling the meat at 152 will make a big difference I bet! Thanks again.
@Kinger Thanks for the information. Your process, other than going to 178, is on in my mind. The only thing I do differently is an ice bath for 20 minutes. Showering for 10 minutes, if you are running a cycle and a fan in your smoker can work, but I still think an ice bath would bring it down faster and more. Last time I did thick summer sausage it was down to 110 in 20 minutes, I also tried showering it at 2 minutes on 2 minutes off for 20 minutes and it was only down to 136 (ish) but i did not have a fan running on them.
One more thing you might want to try, if you are stalled towards the end you can finish them up by putting them in a vacuum bag (I have done then hot, right from the smoker, some condensation in the bag but it still gets a good vac) and get some water going at around 165, it should get up to temp in under an hour depending on the thickness.