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Brine Cured Ham

A good brine also includes something sweet to offest the salt needed for curing. Use powdered dextrose,
but maple syrup, honey, or molasses may be freely substituted. A meat (brine) pump should be
used as indicated to prevent bone souring. Here is a brine to use for ham:

2 1/2 gallons ice water
8 ounces salt
8 ounces Prague Powder #1
2 1/2 ounces powdered dextrose
2 1/2 ounces ground white pepper
1 1/2 ounces ground juniper berries


You can add other things for flavor if you wish: garlic juice, paprika, herbs or spices. Spray pump the ham to 15% its dry weight, being sure to inject along the bone around all sides as well as into the larger sections of meat. Cover with the brine, then refrigerate at 38º F for 5-7 days.

Put the hams into stockinette bags and let them hang a day to dry out and acclimate to room temperature. Slowly warming the meat is critical to complete the curing since it is at this point the nitrites are activated. Next, the hams go into a preheated 120º F smoker and just hang there until the internal temperature, at the thickest portion, reaches 106º F.Then, raise the smokehouse temperature to 135º, close the dampers to 1/4, and apply as much smoke as suits you. Bring the internal temperature up to 128º and keep it there for 12 hours. At this point, trichina are destroyed (they are killed instantly at the benchmark 152º you hear so much about, but the USDA has published a table of times at various temperatures which also guarantee their demise).You can also raise the temperature to 140º so it is “fully-cooked”.

After the smokehouse processing, allow the hams to cool at room temperature overnight, then refigerate for at least a day.