Brined ham smells like bread?

Discussion in 'Pork' started by kerplode, Oct 9, 2014.

  1. kerplode

    kerplode Newbie

    My wife and I just finished brining a fresh ham from our local farmer.  We used Pop's wet brine except replaced all the sugar with maple syrup.  2 cups-equivalent sugars became 1 cup-equivalent maple per the liquid volume relationship of the recipe (we made a quart, so 1/4c maple total sugars) .  We have had pretty good success using pops brine with apple juice to make no-sugar-added hams recently, but they are a little dry so we wanted to try maple this time.

    Anyway, we injected the brine then clamped the whole thing in a gallon zip-lock and let it sit in the bottom of the fridge for four weeks.  We took it out this morning to cook and discovered that the brine was thick and cloudy and the ham had a distinct "yeasty" smell...Like dinner rolls baking.  It's not an off-putting spoiled smell, but definitely not what we were expecting.  The meat color seems fine and it doesn't feel slimy, but we're not sure if we should proceed with cooking and eating it.

    Sorry if this has been asked before...I searched here and with google a bit, but didn't find much to go on.

    What do y'all think...Spoiled or safe?


    p.s. I'll visit the intro forum soon, but wanted to get this question out there since we have this guy in the crock pot now.  :)
  2. mdboatbum

    mdboatbum Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't think that's a problem, but I'm basically bumping this back up so others might chime in. It sounds like what you have is the classic "ropey brine syndrome". The bread smell is from natural yeasts taking up residence. Do search for ropey brine and also for Pops brine and you should find some answers. You can also shoot pops a message if you still aren't sure. Good luck!
    Oh, and get yourself a smoker. Crockpots aren't necessarily evil, but going to all the trouble of brining a ham and then cooking it in a crockpot is kinda like buying a Ferrari and never taking it out of first gear.
  3. kerplode

    kerplode Newbie

    Apologies for not replying sooner...Busy couple days.

    So the ham finished cooking.  It looked like a beautifully cured ham, but had a sort of funky sour flavor so we didn't eat more than a taste.  Oh well.

    If we do this again, I suppose we'll use the brine recipe as-is rather than trying to continue to make substitutions.  We are trying hard to eliminate refined sugars from our diet but it's not worth ruining another piece of responsibly-raised local (and quite expensive) pork over.

    A good smoker is on my short list of things to get (still researching what I want), but my wife doesn't really like smoked ham and prefers them cooked in the Crockpot.  :)
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    What was the recipe for the brine you put in the bag.... Am I reading this correctly.... You use one quart of brine for the ham...

    How big was the ham..
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2014
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Did you just inject the ham, or did you submerge the ham in the brine also? How big was the ham? Was it bone in or boneless?
  6. kerplode

    kerplode Newbie

    Hey Guys,

    The ham was a sort of thick slice.  Maybe about 2" think and with bone it.  Probably about 3lbs total weight.

    We mixed the brine, injected the meat all over, then put the ham in a gallon ziplock bag and poured the brine in with it.  The bag was more or less full and the meat was fully covered in brine the entire time it cured.  Cure time was about 28 days in the bottom drawer of our fridge.

    Our recipe was based upon Pop's but reduced to one quart and with maple syrup substituted for all the sugar:

    1 quart filtered water

    1/4 cup sea salt

    1/4 cup real maple syrup

    1/4 tbsp cure salt (1/4tbsp = 3/4 tsp)

    I suspect that something in the maple didn't play nice either with the meat or with some aspect of the cure to cause the yeasty smell and off flavor.
  7. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    My suggestion would be... If your trying to get away from refined sugar then just use "sugar in the raw" ...
    van holton likes this.
  8. lamar

    lamar Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    You might also consider using Splenda instead of sugar.  It's a sugar substitute.
  9. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The 'pure maple syrup' includes: (from Wikipedia)

    The basic ingredient in maple syrup is the sap from the xylem  of sugar maple or various other species of maple trees. It consists primarily of sucrose  and water, with small amounts of the monosaccharides glucose  and fructose  from the invert sugar  created in the boiling process.[62]  Organic acids, the most notable one being malic acid, make the syrup slightly acidic. Maple syrup has a relatively low mineral content, consisting largely of potassium  and calcium, but also contains nutritionally significant amounts ofzinc  and manganese. Maple syrup also contains trace amounts of amino acids, which may contribute to the "buddy" flavour of syrup produced late in the season, as the amino acid content of sap increases at this time.[63]  Additionally, maple syrup contains a wide variety of volatile organic compounds, including vanillinhydroxybutanone, and propionaldehyde. It is not yet known exactly what compounds are responsible for maple syrup's distinctive flavour,[31]  however its primary flavour contributing compounds are maple furanonestrawberry furanone, and maltol.[64]

    Maple syrup is similar to sugar with respect to calorie content, but is a source of manganese, with 13 grams containing about 0.44 milligrams, or 22 percent of the US Food and Drug Administration  Daily Value  (DV%) of 2 milligrams.[65]  It is also a source of zinc with 13 grams containing 0.55 milligrams or 3.7 percent of the DV% of 15 milligrams.[65][66]  Compared to honey, maple syrup has 15 times more calcium and 1/10 as much sodium.[40]

    Scientists have found that maple syrup's natural phenols  inhibit two carbohydrate-hydrolyzing enzymes relevant to type 2 diabetes. A number of new compounds have been identified in maple syrup, one of which is quebecol, a phenolic compound created when the maple sap is boiled to create syrup.

    Cane sugar is: (again from Wikipedia):

    Since the 6th century BC, cane sugar producers have crushed the harvested vegetable material from sugarcane in order to collect and filter the juice. They then treat the liquid (often with lime (calcium oxide)) to remove impurities and then neutralize it. Boiling the juice then allows the sediment to settle to the bottom for dredging out, while the scum rises to the surface for skimming off. In cooling, the liquid crystallizes, usually in the process of stirring, to produce sugar crystals. Centrifuges  usually remove the uncrystallized syrup. The producers can then either sell the sugar product for use as is, or process it further to produce lighter grades. The later processing may take place in another factory in another country.

    Sugarcane is a major component of Brazilian agriculture; the country is a top producer of sugarcane products, such as crystallized sugar andethanol  (ethanol fuel). The sucrose found in sugarcane produces ethanol when fermented and distilled. Brazil  has implemented ethanol as an alternative fuel on a national scale.[27]

    As you can see, there is a whole lot more in maple syrup than in cane sugar, and ingredients that, in maple syrup, that are fermentable, and not so much in cane sugar.  Fermentation is much more possible in maple syrup, and that is what the odor was from.  I would stick with cane sugar or its' derivatives, such as sucrolose.

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