Curing Country Ham

Discussion in 'Curing' started by egoodman, Jul 14, 2014.

  1. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    First off the nature of this thread was inspired by Mr. T's "from go to show country ham" thread.

    After many months of research I have decided to cure a ham in hopes of creating a "country ham."

    I am using Morton's Smoke Flavored Sugar Cure as my cure. This is my first time doing this and I am following the recommendation from Mr. T to use a pre-made commercial mix. To start I got in contact with my local butcher and they were able to get me a 'green' ham. I requested a larger ham if possible -- mine weighed in at exactly 21lbs. 


    I am following Mr. T's steps as closely as I can, 0.4oz of cure for every pound of ham.  I used 8.4 ounces of cure for this application. This is one of three application spaced a week apart.

    Starting at the hock I paid close attention to be sure I got enough cure into the hock and pushed it in as far as I could. The remaining cure was rubbed into all exposed lean parts of the ham.

    After all the cure for this application had been applied I used cheesecloth to wrap the ham to hold the cure in place. Admittedly not the best cheesecloth wrap job.

    After being wrapped in cheesecloth I use a cotton ham bag to hang the ham hock side down to promote better shape and draining.

    I have this ham in a fridge right now at 38-40 degrees. A remarkable amount of water is coming off the ham, I have this collecting in a pyrex dish underneath the ham. Next week I will do the exact same thing and this will repeat next week and the week after then I will continue the curing process till the 56-60 day mark. My plan is to constantly update this thread and keep you all up to date with whats going on.

    Wish me luck!
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2014
  2. dandl93

    dandl93 Smoking Fanatic

    I will be waiting for your up dates thanks for sharing

  3. c farmer

    c farmer Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Good luck.  You are doing something I have wanted to do but didnt have the guts to do it.
  4. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Almost no moisture has collected since the first couple days. Not sure if this is normal or what is going on. Hoping after the next application I will get more water out of the ham.I have noticed the hock has closed up a bit and the bone is sticking out a bit more than it was when I was applying the cure, I hope this is from proper drying and the cure drying the ham.
  5. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I'm sure if you're following Toms method all is good.

    I'll be following along to see how this turns out.
  6. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Today was the second application of cure. Ham looked good, the meat has really darkened and there was no visible salt left on it which mean it all most have been absorbed. Like the first time I focused my energy on getting cure into the hock and then covering all the lean exposed meat.

    I will continue to keep you all updated. By the way just out of curiosity I weighed the ham and it is 20.1 pounds so almost 5% weight loss.
  7. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Today was the third and final application. One thing I noticed is unlike last time I went to reapply the cure, this time not all of the cure had been absorbed into the ham. There was still some left on the surface. Also the ham is beginning to firm up quite a bit.
    There is a soft spot on the ham that concerns me.
    I hope this is nothing to worry with. I again paid special attention to the hock and rubbed the entire ham down again.
    You can see how the cure had not fully absorbed. The meat is getting pretty dark also. Can anyone tell me if these pose any problems? I expected the meat to darken like it has, the ham is getting very very firm though. Anyways, I weighed the ham again and it has a 8.5% weight loss, that seems promising. It goes back into the fridge for the next month or so before we enter the equalization phase.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  8. I can't help with any advise, as I have never done this but have wanted to since I saw Mr T's post about it.  I'm in for following this, and want you to know that I really appreciate you creating this post to document this.  It's really putting yourself out there, as you have no idea how it's going to turn out, but there's plenty of knowledge and experience here to help.  Keep us posted, I'm really interested to see how this turns out.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2014
  9. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'd help out here but...... I'm an idiot when it comes to long term curing....... :biggrin:
  10. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    You may want to PM Tom. I know he hasn't posted in a while but he may answer his PM's
  11. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    I've gotten a little bit more moisture collect off the ham. The cure again doesn't seem to be absorbing this time very much. It has in some spots but in others it's just sitting there. My thought is that the ham may be reaching it's saturation point with the cure. A lot of cure has already been absorbed by the ham. The(now) firm flesh is much more difficult to penetrate. All in all I've been satisfied with the weight loss of the ham and the firmness of the over ham(it's gotten surprisingly hard). Now the hard part will be waiting till the equalization period where I can finally check the fully cured ham out. Still debating if I want to smoke it or not. I think I will decide that based on the color of the ham after it cures. You can see just from the photos the ham has darkened and is taking on that cured ham look to it. Thinking about it I probably will smoke it lol, I just love the rich brown color it gives the ham. Any how, so far so good, no foul odors are coming from the ham at all so I will keep moving forward!
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  12. That sure is one good looking ham.  I would love to do one of those.  But I don't have the right equipment.  Maybe one day.  I'm looking forward to the outcome.
  13. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Thank you for the kind words. I hope you find this thread informative. I will say that if you have a fridge you can cure a ham using a dry cure like I am doing.i will advise, however, that having your own fridge just for the ham is ideal. You want to reduce temperature flux and if it is in with your every day fridge it will be opened and closed a lot. Once the ham is cured you can hang the ham pretty much anywhere to let it age and develop it's flavors. If smoking is something you don't have equipment for always keep in mind that you don't need to smoke the ham at all. In fact Finchville Farms (located between Lexington and Louisville Kentucky) makes very very fine hams that are not smoked.
  14. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Curiosity got the best of me so I wanted to see how the ham was doing. Still not much cure has absorbed, some has though. But what I noticed is that little soft spot, that can be seen in the most recent photos, seems to be smaller and it's firming up and turning the Same color as the ham. This is encouraging , I made a small cut into the ham sock and packed some cure onto that spot. I don't know if this will help or not but I figured it certainly couldn't hurt. I smelled the ham to see if I could detect any foul odors, particularly from the shank. There was no foul odors at all! In fact it actually smells like country ham, I couldn't believe it! It's still got exactly one month of curing left to go.
    Also I weighed it again (lol curiosity again) and it's weighs 18.66lbs. It has lost 11% which has to be a great sign. I really hope that soft spot continues to dry up and I hope some more cure absorbs...that still concerns me. Anyways, thanks for reading and if anyone can tell me if the cure not absorbing or that soft spot presents any issues, please comment!
  15. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    The initial cure is over! Today I "shucked" the ham if you will. I removed the ham from it's sock and soaked it in cold water for one hour.

    After the soak the ham goes back into my fridge but I have set it to it's warmest setting. It will stay around 45-48 degrees. I will have the ham sit in there for the next twenty days -- this is referred to as the equalization period. It stops new salt from getting into the ham and allows the salt in the ham to distribute itself evenly. This was explained to me as simply an extension of the curing period. I also weighed the ham today, it came in at 17.38 pounds. This is a 17.4% loss. This is actually ahead of where I was expecting it. I will spend the next week deciding if I want to smoke the ham or not. I think I will just simply for fun and give me something todo. After the smoke I will hang the ham for long term storage. This ham will be technically a country ham in mid January. I plan to have to at Easter! I will update this thread when I start smoking.
  16. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Easter???? I don't think I could wait that long!!!
  17. egoodman

    egoodman Newbie

    Haha I know it's a ways away. That'll give it a good amount of time to age and develop it's characteristic country ham flavors.
  18. disco

    disco Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I am really enjoying this thread! Great project and qview!

  19.  I'm watching too.

  20. Awesome job with this cure.
    You have more balls than me doing this

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