Monday, November 15, 2010

Home-Cured Ham

We get our meat from a local farm and we get 1/2 a hog twice a year. The meat is fantastic, it is pasture-raised and organic (though not certified). We know the farmers and they are some of the kindest people we've ever met. But .. there was a problem. How is it possible that we get an entire pig a year and yet we have to go out and buy ham for Hokie Ham Biscuits ( or for holiday meals, or just for any ole reason?? Something just ain't right!

You can imagine my delight then when I found a website that gave step-by-step instructions for curing your own ham at home!! You use a wet cure rather than a dry cure. *Traditional Virginia Ham is dry cured.* I had talked to my farmer-lady and she told me that some of the other folks who get meat from her have tried dry-curing it, but that it can be very tricky. Wet-curing is the solution folks. (pardon the pun)

Here's the link for the website:

Today I put four 3lb ham roasts out to cure. Here's how it goes.

Hello ham!! Pork Fresh Ham Roast is what the label says. We get ours cut to the size we want. The 3lb size makes it easy to work with.

Four Hams in a pot.

The ingredients & the brine. Sounds like a fairytale. 2 liters water (re-using an old soda bottle makes measuring easy), 1 cup packed brown sugar, 3/4 cup sea salt (if you're gonna cure your own ham, use good salt!), and 1 tsp DQ Curing Salt. The DQ Curing Salt is what gives it the rosy color and also ensures you don't get botulism.

Ham soaking in brine. I weighed this down with two plates to make sure that the ham stays moist & covered with the brine.

I then put this into a small dorm-sized fridge that we have. The site says it cures at a rate of roughly 2lbs per day. I'll leave this in for a week. After we take it out we'll smoke it as well.

One of the really great things about this recipe is that you can do it in batches of most any size. Whatever you have room for. I love it.

TA DA!! The finished product!! Ok, well the finished product from our last batch. You know you're on to something when the ham hops off the smoker and says "HOT DAMN I look good!!" Literally, it did. It tasted even better.
I've never really cared for ham at holiday dinners, but we're planning on serving some alongside the turkey this year. It really is that good. Mouth-watering, moist, just the right mix of salty & sweet. Damn delicious.

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