Deer hams - information needed

Discussion in 'Curing' started by archeryrob, Apr 28, 2016.

  1. I posted in the General smoking forum and didn't know this section existed and was told to post here. Anyways, below is what I have questions with.

  2. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have made hams using my injection technique....   It's very similar to what the commercial processors do...  weighing the leg and adding appropriate amounts of sugar, salt and cure #1 is very important...   If you have questions, we are here to help.....
  3. Thanks Dave, you are doing injection curing, which is what  called brine cured hams, correct?

     - How does the cure help? Does it store longer? Do you store yours or just eat it right away?

     - What is the difference between injection and dry cure in dry salt?

     - I would prefer to use injection over buying 50#'s of salt.

    I am interested in dry cured and wondering how to best do this. Is there an explanation on the differences? I have seen farmers that just kept ham hanging in the smoke house. Those guys are dead and gone now and I don't have them to ask any longer.
  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have smoked Venison Hams (Hind Quarters), but I take them apart & Dry cure & smoke the pieces, so there are no places where the cure can't get to.

    Just so you know----> Curing and Smoking Venison makes it taste like Dried Beef---Not Ham.

    Link to Step by Step:

    Smoked Venison Dried Beef  

  5. halfsmoked

    halfsmoked Master of the Pit Group Lead SMF Premier Member

    I have a cure recipe that my grandparents used to cure pork hams, shoulders and side meat which they hung in a meat house (they did not smoke it) and it would hang up to a year. Not sure this would work on deer meat and this was done in cold weather like Nov. or Dec. and hung a minimum of 6 months before eating. I will post recipe if anyone's interested the recipe is for 100 lbs. of meat and can be adjusted to more or less. Known in our area as sugar cured .
  6. I guess I'll separate the muscle groups from the rump like I always do. Treat them and then hang on hooks to smoke them. My daughter shot a deer when it was warm in late September last year. It sat over night in 50° weather and my wife forced me to take it to the butcher to verify it was safe. They slices the rump through the bone to make steaks and the venison rump muscle groups just will not stick together very well. The steaks fall apart when cooking.

    Bearcarver, I read that, but I have a few questions. Why add the cure if it is to be frozen? I am learning here, so no offense is meant. I want to learn to be able to prepare the meat for the table, as a brined, wet ham and to make cured, dried meat like the old timers did. This last one I am unsure about.

    Halfsmoked, I am very interested in hearing about the recipe/process. So was this salt dried and no heat was used?

    I am interested in trying a low heat smoke to dry out and preserve meat without freezing. I an guessing 85 to 100°, but I am still looking for advice. I am old school and do everything the old way if I can. On a side note, I made all my own archery gear with bows from Osage or Hickory and arrows from arrowwood or Multiflora rose.
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You have to add the proper amount of cure to cure the meat, and you can't Smoke Meat low & slow without curing the meat first.

    Without curing it first, you would have to use temps high enough to get it from 40° Internal Temp to 140° Internal Temp within 4 Hours, and 4 hours wouldn't give you very much time to get a good smoke flavor in the meat.

    If all you use is Salt, instead of adding cure, you won't get Ham flavor in Ham, and you won't get the Dried Beef flavor in Beef or Deer. 

    All you'll get is cooked meat if you use high enough temp, and if you use low temps without curing, all you'll get is spoiled meat.

    Any Old ways of doing these things without using cure, I can't help you with.

    Hope that helps,

    Last edited: Apr 29, 2016
  9. I am still struggling on what do do with this. I want to be able to dry (cure) deer roast to that can be preserved, hopefully without refrigeration or freezing. My daughter and I will both be hunting deer this year and the freezer is not going to hold it all. I would rather learn proper curing methods than buy another freezer. Plus I am old school and make all my own archery equipment, primitive, It just fits my style better.

    I watched bear carvers threads on curing and drying. I was planning on drying longer and lower heat. Can you leave yours sealed and non-refrigerated?

    I have watch video on salting and old school pig processing and the farmer in it made a comment about having a ham hanging for almost 6 years. I have no intention of storing things that long, just year by year. I want to find better how to information on curing and smoke drying meat for dry storage. I am probably not going to dry cure as my basement is not cold enough and I don't want the basement fridge full for months. I was more interested in injection cure and smoking it dry. Then maybe storing whole or slicing and sealing for shelf storage. I have searched the internet most of the day and can't find a good old school way of doing it. Just a bunch of prepper sites that talk about it but don't explain the how to of all of it.

    So, Any good tutorials or threads or words of wisdom for me? I have a deer front shoulder in the freezer I want to thaw and debone as a trial run.
    Last edited: May 22, 2016
  10. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  11. You have to have some heat, right? I mean under 120 or under 100 for days.

    I just ordered "Meat Smoking And Smokehouse Design" although design section might be a little late now.
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The reference to "no heat" is because you do not want to cook the meat...  cooked meat doesn't keep...   you want to slowly dry the meat using bacterial cultures, humidity, and a temperature that coincides with the culture you are using...  Cultures were "native" to areas that made fermented meats...  thus their distinctive flavors...   today we can use those specific cultures to replicate meats from different parts of the world...

    Some folks will have differing opinions on these books....   You need somewhere to start... 

    Last edited: May 23, 2016
  13. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    A member just pointed out this humidity / temperature combination unit he used for the last 2 years and said it is still working...   It's on my list of stuff to get....    perfect for fermenting meats ....

  14. Ok, I plan to do like bearcarver, but I have Prague powder and would prefer to use it. I do have tender quick and could use it, but would prefer to use the Prague powder But I could use tender quick, if i have too. I have a deer front shoulder thawed and two goose breast thawing also. The deer is bone in and I will probably open it up and debone the scapula and front leg from it. That will make it thinner and be like a tried roast when smoked. The goose breast are probably 1 1/4" think to 1 1/2" at the most. Will these dry cure fine, require more time or need an injection?

    I saw that it is tsp per 5 pounds of meat for Prague powder.Obviously 1 tsp is not going to effectively cover a  5 lbs roast. So is there a recipe people have that used brown sugar and other things to stretch it all over the meat? These will be salted (mixture with sugar) and in the fridge tonight for a week rest to start smoking next week.
    Can the goose breast go in one bag together, or do each have to have their own bag also?
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2016
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Personally I would go with TQ, and use my Link I gave earlier. I like the taste much better.

    I would put each goose breast in it's own bag, to make sure they each get their share of TQ.

    If you must use the Prague powder, I would use the "POPS" Method, and wet brine cure it. That way you don't have to worry about 1tsp covering 5 pounds.

    You can find Pops' method many places on this forum.

    Hope this helps,

  16. I thawed then out and they both seemed "wet". The deer was just processed and I boned it out and tried to remove what membrane I could. The goose was pretty clean but seemed to ooze water. It kind of turned the tenderquick and brown sugar into a paste as I finally got it into the bag. I threw both goose breast into one bag with enough cure for both.

    Deer front shoulder, without bone, was 3.8# and I used 4Tbsp tendquick and 4 tbsp of brown sugar and it covered well

    Booth goose breasts were 1.2# and I used 2.5 Tbsp Tenderquick and brown sugar and the mixture got sticky quick. The breast were packed in water when frozen. Maybe that is part of the problem, but Idrained them well first and sat on racks for two hours. 

    The main reason for posting this was I really felt like I should add more to adsorb the liquid, but don't want to make it too salty. I let them air dry on a rack for two hours before putting them in the bags and they felt dry in some spots but wet in other areas. So, is it too wet, or is it just a brine in the bag?
  17. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    Hello Rob

    Your profile doesn't show where you are.  If you are close enough to visit with one of us for a while I suspect you would be a lot more comfortable.  The "wet" defrosted meat you refer to likely has to do with the freezing process and how the meat was handled before it hit the freezer.  Faster freezing means smaller ice crystals and less moisture loss on defrosting as it's the ice crystals that cut the cell walls and release the moisture.  Faster freezing makes for smaller ice crystals.  A good practice is to get the meat as cold as possible before putting it in the freezer and to not put so much in the freezer at once that the air temperature rises enough that things take forever to freeze.

    You mention Prague powder but didn't mention whether it's #1 or #2 (unless I missed that).  You want #2 for anything you are going to air dry or cold smoke for a long while.  The type of air drying you want to do generally needs to be at a lot cooler temps than the daytime ambient temps in much of the US this time of year (that's why I'm curious where you live).

    Marianski's books are a great reference but they also have been gracious enough to put all the same in formation on their website:

    Whatever you do, keep a detailed journal of everything you do as you go along.  Without that journal next year you are going to be pretty much right back where you are today since darn few of us do this stuff so frequently that we can remember what we did 10-12 months ago.

    I'm glad to see you expanding your horizons.  As others have written, keep the questions coming.

  18. Thanks, i updated the profile for just near Hagerstown Maryland. I read #1 for dry cure and #2 was for injection, or something like that. I went all Tenderquick this time as I had it and wanted to go simple as crap just went wrong with the kids, if you know what i mean. $3k gone.

    I always froze meat as it seemed to drain better and made better jerky with absorbing the marinade. I'll check you link later but work is very busy and I have to travel most of next week. .
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2016
  19. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Prague Powder #1 vs Prague Powder #2

    By: SmokinHusker

    Posted 1/2/13 • Last updated 1/2/13 • 20,238 views • 3 comments

    Rick (NEPAS) posted this recently in another thread here. 

    CURES - Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in
    the low temperature environment of smoked meats.
    Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.
    The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.

    Prague Powder #1
    Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.

    Prague Powder #2
    Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt.

    (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)

    It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly.
    Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.
    When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.

  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hopefully you'll be fine, but you didn't follow what I said.

    I said I'd put the Breasts in separate bags, so one doesn't absorb more TQ than the other.

    I also think you Deboned the Deer front shoulder out, but left it together in one piece. If you look at the  Smoked Venison Dried Beef  I gave you earlier, you will see I took 2 Hind Quarters apart & cured the 6 pieces separately. I did that for much the same reason as the Goose Breasts (to keep one from absorbing all the TQ). I also separated each Hind Quarter into 3 pieces, because one time I took a Hind quarter to a Processor to get Dried Beef, and the guy removed the bone, but left it in one piece, and it got spoiled because the cure didn't get into the holes properly where the bones had been removed.

    When you first add TQ & Brown Sugar to meat, it turns into a Paste type substance (like you said), but shortly after, that turns into a liquid. Then when it gets flipped daily, both sides get to absorb the liquid. If you have a big hunk of meat in there it doesn't have a good chance of getting into the center, and all the little nooks & crannies where bones have been removed. So when dry curing with TQ, the pieces should be less than 3" thick, and each smaller piece should be cured separately.

    Hope this helps,


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