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!
Last night I went through the cleaning procedure and I couldn’t be happier with the ease of the process. Remove grates, scrape the heat shield with a metal spatula and vacuum the ashes and debris underneath. It only took a few minutes and there was an astonishingly small amount of ash. After two weeks of almost daily grilling and going through 20 lbs or more of pellets the total accumulation was around one cup of ash. The pellets burn so efficiently that there is little to no residual.
@Jonathon I have used them many times and I’ve always noticed a distinct cedar character although that depends on the temps you are cooking at. To get the most of it I will soak in water for a bit and cook over pretty high temps…the wood should scorch and smolder a little bit. I’ve had a few catch on fire. lol.
When it came to cooking on the Pit Boss I wanted as low and slow as I could get away with. Due to the the size of the fish I figured the cedar would shield against any hot spots I might have and slow down the cooking process as much as possible. I doubt there was much if any of the cedar that was picked up by the salmon although I didn’t eat much of the side that was resting on the plank. The pellets I was using were apple.
@Joe-Hell Do you often cook on planks? I have tried it a time or two and never noticed a difference. Is it only supposed to be used for heat shielding?