Brining & Smoking Raw Fresh Ham

  • The smallest fresh raw ham I could get was 25 pounds. I have five pounds of Country Brown Sugar brine mix. I am thinking that for this big of a ham I should just go ahead & use the whole five pound container of Walton Country Brown Sugar mix with two gallons of water & a little muscadine wine to get a 20% pump. Inject the ham along the bones & vein. Add the remaining brine to the ham in my turkey frying pot & brine for five days before smoking for about 14 hours. I am trying something different with the turkey & the ham this time using wine barrel staves for the wood rather than my typical Pecan, Hickory, Oak, etc. Does the brine mix sound right for the 20% pump & brine, or do you think I should still calculate it all down to 2.5 pounds of mix still? Any thoughts, tips, suggestions, or ideas are always appreciated.

  • If your turkey fryer is aluminum, don’t use it. It reacts to the chemicals in the cure causing the aluminum to be absorbed into the meat.

  • @davhi8
    Thank you, I really appreciate it. OK, I am on the way to the store to get a 10 gallon freezer bag which is way too big, but that ham is too big for my 3 gallon bags. I guess I will just have to try & squeeze all the air out & fold it over. Should I just go ahead & use the whole five pound bag of Walton’s Country Brown Sugar Cure with two gallons of water & a little mascadine wine for the brine & pump to get a 20% pump on this large of a ham? Will that make it too salty or do you think it will be just about right? Thank you, Dave

  • Admin

    Are you planning on using sodium erythorbate or another cure accelerator?

    Depending on if that is yes or no will affect how I would answer the rest of your questions. It is an optional ingredient, but it does change the process.

    Let me know and I’ll get a more in-depth answer for you!

  • Austin,
    Thank you again for your reply, I really appreciate it. I was not planning on using any accelerator, but I suppose I can if you think it will help, as long as I can get it quickly. I was just going to use the Walton’s Brown Sugar cure with water & a little Muscadine wine for the cure/brine. I have the Walton’s Turkey cure for a turkey too. Usually when I do my brines for other meats I just make up a basic flavor, salt, & sugar brine & it seems to work real well, but if I should be doing something different, let me know. Thank you

  • This post is deleted!

  • @austin Prague powder 6.25% sodium nitrate. 1/4 tsp per pound of meat.

  • Austin,
    I don’t think I would be able to get ahold of any Prague Powder Quickly. Should I just go ahead & use the whole five pound sack of Walton’s Country Brown Sugar Cure/Brine with 2 gallons of water & little Mascadine Wine to get the 20% pump on this 25 pound ham, brine it for five days, & smoke it for apx. 14 hours to get the best results? Or should I reduce the mix to 2 lbs of mix & the water& wine for the pump & brine on this big of a ham? Thanks, Dave

  • Admin

    I think Country Brown Cure is the best choice when making hams. A little bit of wine would definitely be a nice and interesting addition. I haven’t tried that, but I think it would be worthwhile to try. Wine barrel staves for wood during smoking would be an awesome choice too. I know there are quite a few people out there that do that, but another thing I haven’t ventured into yet.

    You will not want to use the full 5 lb of cure in only 2 gallons of water. That will be extremely salty. The ratio of Country Brown Cure to Water for making a brine soaking solution is a 1:1 ratio (lb to gallon). Country Brown Cure also already has the nitrite in it you need, so you would not want to add any additional cure, like prague powder.

    For a brine, you soak it for 5 to 7 days, and you want to use 1 lb of Country Brown Cure for each 1 gallon of water. You need at least a gallon of the solution, but maybe more, it depends on what container you put it in. You just want to make sure the ham is fully submerged in the brine solution while it is soaking.

    I usually use one of our storage containers, which is kind of like a 5 gallon bucket, and make up 2-3 gallons of solution, place the ham in there submerged and keep it in a refrigerator or somewhere between 32 and 40 degrees.

    However many gallons of water you need for the brine to cover the ham fully, just use an equal amount (in pounds) for the Country Brown Cure.
    Examples: 3 gallons water with 3 lb Country Brown OR 2.45 gallons water with 2.45 lb Country Brown, etc.

    Let it soak in that solution for preferably at least 5 days, but up to 7 days total is fine too. After the soaking period, then you can remove it and rinse it very thoroughly (helps remove excess salt/brine), and proceed on to the smoking and cooking process.

    Let me know if you need anything else!

  • Austin,
    Super & thank you very much. I will stick to the 1:1 with a little wine. Do you know off hand apx how many cups of Country Brown Sugar is in a pound for quick measuring? I am going to look into one of your containers for the future. Thank you again. Dave

  • My apologies folks! I am new to this forum and am not familiar with the way things are posted. I thought the question I responded to with Prague powder was directed at me.
    I will get used to the format and look forward to reading more.

  • No Problem, I understand & can relate to that.

  • @austin Austin,
    Super & thank you very much. I will stick to the 1:1 with a little wine. Do you know off hand apx how many cups of Country Brown Sugar is in a pound for quick measuring? I am going to look into one of your containers for the future. Thank you again. Dave

  • Just a note on Brining. I use the 5 gal bucket liners at Walton’s and they save on mess. But for the buckets, I choose the 5 gal measure-right paint buckets which are food safe and available at Lowes. They even sell a nifty screw-on lid for them. alt text alt text

  • On the measurements, I measured & calculated the five pound container of cure mix three times & got three different answers as would be suspected for something that should be weighed. However, since I do not have a food scale anymore I settled for about 2.25 cups to equal 1 pound of cure mix. Thank you for the suggestion on the liners & I will look into that too. I tried to find a food safe five gallon bucket, but was unable. I used my typical Aluminum Turkey Pot that I usually use with up to 2.5 gallon freezer bags for smaller turkeys, butts, briskets, etc. However, since this ham was so big, I had to go & get a 10 gallon freezer bag to use for the ham & put that into the Turkey Pot to keep it together. That ham has been taking a bath now for a day. Thank you all for all your help.

  • Admin

    Weighing out seasoning is always the most precise, but volume can get you close.
    I calculated 9.2 ounces per cup of Country Brown Cure and 8.3 ounces per cup of Walton’s Turkey Cure.
    That would mean 1.75 cups per lb of Country Brown Cure and 1.93 cups per lb of Walton’s Turkey Cure.
    But, every time you do a volume measurement of cure, it may get a slightly different value, depending on how much is settles, or doesn’t settle. That at least will hopefully get you an idea, if you cannot do a weighted measurement.

  • @austin
    Thank you, I really appreciate it. I am with you on getting a different measurement for volume every time, so I need to try & get me another scale soon. It sounds like I measured a little heavy for both the Turkey & the Ham, but I suppose a little heaviness should not hurt too much vs being light. Have a nice Thanksgiving Holiday,

  • Admin

    @calldoctoday I would say that a little heavy or a little light will be fine. It would be most important to just not use multiple times more than what you need, and also not just 10% of what you need. Close will be ok, but I would definitely put a small kitchen scale on your wishlist! Hope you have a great Thanksgiving too!

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  • @Joepingel That would be correct, the 22mm tube is too big for the 30mm casing, it will fit the 32mm collagen but not the 30. You can check out a chart that shows you what tube to use with what casings ( that Austin made a few years ago. Please let me know if you saw incorrect information somewhere on either or and I will get that fixed.

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  • H

    Thanks Jonathon. I pan fried the sausage in a cast iron skillet (my “go to” for the stove) on low heat actually. I could not believe there was no moisture in that skillet. The sausage really was great (Holly), beautifully brown. I was very surprised at no rendered fat, but it is very pleasant to experience a sausage patty that is not greasy. I thought I did something wrong lol.

    Yeah, goat is lean. I will be going the route of adding pork fat, or mixing in some ground pork. I will have to read up on the other options you have suggested as they are new to me. I like to keep my food as “natural” as possible. I do appreciate the assist here.

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  • @homesteader57 When making a fresh sausage like breakfast sausage adding water isn’t necessary and you’d only need to do it to help mix in the seasonings and additives. I personally don’t add water to breakfast sausage or bratwursts. Did you stuff this into a casing or did you make loose breakfast sausage and cook it up in a pan? Either way, I’ve never heard of no fat rendering out when cooking a breakfast sausage, can you give me a little more information on how you cooked it? In a pan over high heat I am assuming, was it cooked at the highest heat? Cast Iron or something else?

    I am going to be very interested to see what happens when you make Brats out of the goats. I’ve never done it but I am pretty sure goat is low in fat content. For brats you want your fat content to be around 75/25 so you will have to add some pork fat if you can. If you don’t want to add pork fat then you can try what I have been doing with lower fat meats. When I have made Chicken Brats I have been using Cold Phosphate to increase the water holding capacity of the meat. I’d also recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. Using both of those seems to be the best bet to get a nice juicy product out of a lower fat meat.

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  • @scott-williams First, I’d recommend you use a binder like Sure Gel or Super Bind or a moisture retender like Carrot Fiber. This is always the first thing I recommend when someone has an issue with the texture of their sausage.

    Your fat content is correct and it sounds like you used the correct amount of seasoning. 190° is a little higher than I would recommend, but we have all been there when it’s just taking too long so you dump it a little more than you really should! I don’t think that is the issue but check out this post titled Summer Sausage Nightmare specifically @Parksider’s response to finishing it up in water. It’s a good tip and I am going to be doing some tests on it here to verify a few things.

    What I think probably caused your issue was the mixing in some way. When adding pork fat to your venison I think the best time to add it is during the second grind, it’s possible that your fat didn’t really mix in well with the venison, that would explain why it seemed dry even though you had the correct fat content.

    It also could have been lack of protein extraction, I looked through your posts and can’t tell if you have a mixer or are mixing by hand? With cured sausages, I always recommend using a meat mixer as getting the right level of protein extraction. I am guessing that you had some fat out where the fat renders and cooks out of the product.

    Hope this helps!

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  • J

    I made my first batch of brats last night and was using the 30mm collagen casing, but I could not get it to fit on the 22mm tube. I used instead the 16mm tube. I am just curious about what I was doing wrong. I have the 11lb vertical stuffer.

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  • @papasop Sorry, I didn’t catch that you said by the switch initially.
    I see the same thing now. Weird thing is that the Pro Series also says the same thing. If you couldn’t use any of them for more than 5 seconds in reverse, that would be odd, because then nothing would work well with the meat mixers.
    I’m getting some questions sent to the manufacturer. I’ll let you know if they can clarify further.
    I’ve used both the Pro and Butcher series grinders with the reverse on for more than 5 seconds, and used them to mix a lot of meat, so my initial thought is that it is fine to do on mixing, but maybe just not when the grinder head, auger, plate/knife, etc. is attached. Meat is the “lubricant” for all that when grinding, so in reverse for too long and the meat not being pushed through everything could cause problems.

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