Brining & Smoking Raw Fresh Ham

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  • Regular Contributors

    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.

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    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!

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    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

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

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    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!

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    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.

  • Regular Contributors

    No Problem, I understand & can relate to that.

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    @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

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    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.

  • Regular Contributors

    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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