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Home Brew Forums > Food and Beverage > Meat Smoking, Curing and Sausage Making > Dry cured ham
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:46 PM   #21
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I checked out your hog killing blog - loved the gumby suit. Wish I'd bought a meat saw, we did it redneck style with an axe. On the plus side, had a friend and his family heirloom scalding tank plus a tractor with a front end loader and a boom pole on the pack.

I've got pics of my pancetta in another thread. Should be smoking bacon today, but I didn't make it to the saw mill for wood yesterday.
Wow. Awesome! Yeah, the hog killing was a ton of work. the meat has been fantastic. The meat saw was a great purchase. $20 and, for hair removal the bell scraper was $30 but pays for itself with one use.

Pancetta, I tried so hard to do it but you can't raise a lean pig and then expect thick bellies. So my bacon wasn't ideal.
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Old 11-22-2012, 08:51 PM   #22
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Since I've already completely derailed poor Puumba's thread...

Go for it! Pork belly is an artist's palette. Did you see these lovely numbers?
Jeebus freaking cristopher you should see the amount of droooooool that just rained out of my mouth and almost shorted my keyboard. WOW. Looks amazing.

I just brought a slab of my Sous-Vide Pork Belly Confit I made a month or so ago to my sister's. Even though it's been frozen and reheated it is still amazing.
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Old 11-26-2012, 05:53 AM   #23
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anyone try it? I know the process of curing then smoking but havent given it a go myself yet and was wondering if anyone here has . . . may start one this week but kinda 2nd guessing potentially wasting a whole green ham for an experiment.
Pumbaa:

I've been following your project and progress with interest. Originally, I was raised in Kentucky (not too far from Broadbent's Hams in Kuttawa, KY). I was raised on Country Ham. Stated differently, ham was a "meat-staple" for our family to include slab bacon (smoked hog jowl) and salted fat-back. We cured and smoked our own. On rare occasions we would purchase hams from a neighboring farm.

Being a kid at the time (I am now 66+ years), and like most farm kids i.e. not wanting to be troubled with time consuming farm chores, I was robotic; I performed tasks as "second nature" all the while failing to pay attention or ask pertinent questions of my elders. Naturally, today I fully realize the folly of my ways.

In 2000 I reached deeply into the recesses of time past and pieced together childhood memories of my helping grandpa salt and smoke hams. It was 2000 when I successfully smoked two hams from the Sitka Black-tail deer. I am now embarking on curing and smoking several fresh pork hams.

Reading all posts following your original, I thought I might be able to shed light on at least one matter, that being, whether or not a country ham was smoked. Country Ham is a southern "thing". With few exceptions, a true Country Ham is dry-salt-cured and when cured it is then smoked.

Ordinarily, we would salt our ham for approximately one week, remove it from the salt box, clean with water, pat dry with cloth, and re-salt the ham. The problem is, I don't know what kind of salt was used. Even back then there were many different available salts.

During the first week, water would literally drain onto the floor from the meat. Nearly every other day we would make a trip to the smoke house and inspect the ham. If patches of "rub" had fallen off the ham, we would sprinkle a small amount of water on that area and re-apply a thick application of rub. During the first cycle we would make absolutely certain that salt was packed deeply, all around and next to the bone from both ends. This was very important because if ham spoils, it will commence around bone for lack of adequate preservative material.

At the beginning of the second week, just prior to applying the second coat of rub, we would inject salt water deep into the meat being juxtapose to the bone with the specific intent of assuring meat preservation adjacent to the bone. Again, I don't know what kind of salt was used nor concentration of the injected salt water. When the rub was applied, the ham was carefully wrapped in paper so as to hold the rub against the surface of the ham and the ham was allowed to cure for 30 to 40 days depending on whether or not the meat had frozen during the cure. Over that period of time, a good deal of water drained from the ham. Later I learned why loss of water was so necessary to preservation.

After the ham had been cured, it was thoroughly brushed with a stiff brush, carefully washed with water and a little vinegar to remove the green mold then hung to be smoked. To the best of my memory, we would smoke our hams for about one week using Hickory. I know that others would often smoke for two weeks and sometimes longer but I don't believe that we smoked much longer than one week. Perhaps it was personal preference.

After smoking, we placed the ham in a brown paper grocery sack and tightly close the mouth of the sack with string. The sack allowed for ventilation but prevented bugs from invading and ruining the meat. From that point we allowed our hams to hang for as much as five to six months before eating. When fully cured, the hams would remain in the smoke house, year around, without spoilage.

So, a few questions for you but first a statement. I loathe sugar cured hams because they are not the salty Country Ham I grew up eating. Aside from that, sugar cured hams don't make good Red-eyed gravy and sugar cured ham doesn't taste good with home-made biscuits. With that having been said, and remembering that you specifically stated that you desired to make a *Country Ham*, what kind of salt are you using? In the past I mainly used Canning Salt during the first cycle. Canning salt has no iodine nor other preservatives. During the second phase I used Tender Quick and especially in deep areas next to the bone. I have been reluctant to use Morton's Sugar Cure simply because of what the name implies. I am so afraid it will end up as a "Sugar Cured Ham". Still, unlike Canning Salt which contains nothing, both Sugar Cure and Tender Quick contain, among other ingredients, NaNO3 and NaNO2 both being important to preservation as well as meat presentation. So what salt are you using and how do you tend your cycles?

Are you planning to smoke and if so for how long using what wood?

KGB in Alaska
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Old 11-26-2012, 02:36 PM   #24
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Whoa. Loaded response. Hoping this gets a reply Congrats on the epic first post.

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Old 11-26-2012, 04:45 PM   #25
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I've never done a country ham, although I'm getting ready to. But I have done a few other cured meats, and the take I have on Tender Quick is that it adds a flavor lots of people don't like. Some think it makes food taste like pepperoni. I'd recommend insta-cure and salt instead. I wish I had talked more to my Grandpa about how he cured his hams before he passed away. I never even thought about making my own ham when I was a teenager.

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Old 11-26-2012, 07:12 PM   #26
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So, a few questions for you . . . but first a statement. I loathe sugar cured hams because they are not the salty Country Ham I grew up eating. Aside from that, sugar cured hams don't make good Red-eyed gravy and sugar cured ham doesn't taste good with home-made biscuits. With that having been said, and remembering that you specifically stated that you desired to make a *Country Ham*, what kind of salt are you using?
actually I said
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Virgina style or country

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So what salt are you using and how do you tend your cycles?
but I'm using a cure made of kosher salt, dark brown sugar and a bit of pink curing salt. ratios is about 3:1:a touch. I have exact weights upstairs somewhere. I get as much on as I could get to stick all over including the shank end (cut very low not much meat there so I rubbed under the skin) and paid extra attention to the cavity created by the removal of the aitch bone. Not sure what ya mean by "tend your cycles" BUT so far what I have done is get a good thick rub on it and re-rubbed a week later. Will probably put another coat of rub on tomorrow and let that sit until 01 Dec. After that plan on letting it sit and "equalize" for 2 weeks then gonna cold smoke it until it's a good dark brown . . .1 day, 4 days, a week. . . I dunno depends how the smoke and outside temp is think it's about 35 in the garage atm . . . After smoking it's gonna hang in the basement either over or in the sump until at least Easter (cooler and more humid and the water is potable so not worried about contamination).

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Are you planning to smoke and if so for how long using what wood?
thinking I might use a blend of apple or cherry with a touch of hickory but still not sure. Need to see how much of each I have on hand. Wish I would have had time to powder up my pecan wood but oh well maybe next time. Still need to try and get my hands on a good supply of sassafras wood . . .


My phone is hard down ATM but hopefully I'll have a new one tomorrow when I pull the porky out and re-rub it down. If so I'll post some new pictures.
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Old 11-27-2012, 04:48 AM   #27
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Pumbaa:

I appreciate your reply. I am looking forward to seeing your results and hearing about the taste.

KGB

I waited all evening for the sun to set, then it dawned on me! Alaska

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Old 11-27-2012, 01:25 PM   #28
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KGB - I'm on my first ham so far from a pro. The one I've got going is just salt cured, in the style of prosciutto. I like country ham pretty well, but my wife isn't a huge fan and I don't think I could eat 30 lbs of it by myself.

The basic cure recipe I have is 450g salt, 225g sugar, & 50g pink salt #1 - Butcher-Packer is the best place to get curing salts etc online. I copied the cure recipe from a library book and I don't think I wrote the country ham recipe down, but for bacon, I used 50g of the basic cure per 2kg of belly. Obviously you'd want some brown sugar for country ham.

Here is the best webste I've found that covers many, many ways to cure meats : http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/hams-other-meats/country The link is to the country ham page with a picture of none other than Alan Benton. I live about 2 hrs away from Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams and ended up there on my honeymoon. Long story, but needless to say, it's a place near and dear to my heart and also considered by many to be finest producer of tradtional country hams and bacons. That first visit to Benton's spurred quite an adventure that has led to raising and butchering hogs myself.

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:26 PM   #29
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Good Morning TNGage. Fall Branch it not too far from Johnson City!

Thanks for the info. I will tuck this away for future use. Info is much appreciated.

KGB

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Old 11-28-2012, 07:11 PM   #30
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ok little busy getting and setting up my new phone BUT finally got the 3rd coat of cure on the ham so gonna let it sit for another 3-4 days and then start the "equalization" for 2 weeks. Took some picts of b4 the 3rd coat and after include close ups of the shank and aitch bone pocket . . .

2 weeks of cure. The checkered board patterns is from the plastic grate (florescent light diffuser) I have it sitting on to keep it above the bottom of the pan.


3rd coat of cure Each coat this thick seems to be absorbed in about 3-4 days. Finally got a good amount of liquid collected after 2 weeks probably a good cup - 1.5 cups worth.


the "aitch pocket". The bone is that smooth spot in the middle of thebottom 3rd of the img


Shank end. Not much meat showing but packing on the cure to be safe

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