Cured Whole Muscle Meat 105 - Ham Basics


  • Walton's Employee

    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

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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?


  • Walton's Employee

    @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!


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