Saturday, March 31, 2012

Home-Cured Easter Ham: Part I

My ham and its detached hock defrosted so the prepping and brining have begun.  This is only the fourth ham that I ever cured and smoked on my own.  I am still very much working my way through the apprentice level of ham crafting but I want to encourage you to try one sometime, too.  

On the first three hams, I used the method described by Rytek Kutas in his book Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing...a wonderful must-have book.  This recipe requires dextrose amongst its ingredients which I normally keep on hand and for some reason I forgot to replenish my supply.  Luckily my friend pointed me in the direction of this recipe, and it doesn't require dextrose of which I have none. The recipe which I will be doing is in two parts since the brining time is for a week:

American-style Brown-Sugar-Glazed Holiday Ham

The Brine (this week):
  • 1 gallon/4 liters water
  • 1 ½ cups/350 grams kosher salt
  • 2 packed cups/360 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 ½ ounces/42 grams pink salt (8 teaspoons)
  • One 12- to 15-pound/5.5 to 6.75-kilogram fresh ham, skin and aitch-bone removed
The Glaze (next week when I smoke/cook it):

  • 1 ½ packed cups/270 grams dark brown sugar
  • ¾ cup/185 milliliters Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon/20 grams minced garlic
Since it came from the butcher with the skin removed, I trimmed the excess fat from my fresh pork ham and ham hock.  1/4 inch of outer fat was left on.

The brine was made with chilled water and stirred until all the ingredients dissolved.

Though the recipe that I provided the link to does not mention injecting cure into the ham, I did it and recommend that you do it, too.  There is a lot of meat between the outside of the ham and the bone so I inject straight in from the outside to the bone just to make sure that cure in getting inside meat. I set the ham in a non-reactive rimmed container and inject about 2 cup of the brine into it.  What ever drains out of the ham is caught in the container and you can add it to the brining container along with the ham.

Now I like to use ZipLoc 2 gallon reseal-able bags to brine my hams but you can use any non-reactive bucket or container.  Just make sure you put the bag in another container in case of leaks.  Brining time is 6 to 8 days, the recipe recommends "half a day per pound).  Mine will be in for 7 days.

Next week I will be smoking, glazing and cooking my ham.  Looking forward to showing you he technique and the results.


  1. Very interesting. I am looking into dry curing mine with Morton Sugar Cure when the time comes but I am totally interested in learning both dry and wet curing.

  2. I so want to do this. I need to get a smoker. Thanks for the tips. I really love smoked ham. I wish I could try it.

  3. Thanks!
    I've got a loin left from the hog half I bought and would like to try a dry cure on that. I have some Cabelas Maple cure I'm going rub on it.
    Yes, you do need to get a smoker. Bacon is so easy to cure and smoke, too. It's listed in my recipes here on the blog.