Ham curing a whole pig

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alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
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Hi folks,
I’m new here but can’t seem to find the answer for my question/s anywhere yet.

I’ve had recent success and past successes with our family owned spit roast doing whole pigs, the last one (hopefully with pics attached) was smaller but perfect size for our camping trip with just 3 families and 10 people, total.

My next up coming trip will have the same amount to feed but I was thinking about trying to cure the whole pig as ham, probably not the head or hooves though.
Then cooking it up as a hot ham tea, with cold ham sammies for the following days lunch.
I just wondered if anyone had tried such a thing or had any opinions/input ect into the idea?

Some other questions would be added like,
Should I criss cross the whole skin before curing?
Or cure and cook with skin complete then either skin it and/or just Criss cross just before finishing the cook?

Looking forward to hearing thoughts on this..

Many thanks from a bloke always ready to learn.
 

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SmokinEdge

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Mix up a cure brine and inject 10% brine weight to meat weight. Guessing the actual meat weight is key because bones and fat don’t count In the cure weight. Will be perfect ham all around.
 

alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
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Thanks for that, would that suggestion imply to only inject brine or to also soak it in some too? I can sort the technology to do either or both before the time comes.

So inject and refrigerate for at least 10 days, then if still too long before the trip chuck lil piggy in the freezer until a day or 2before the roasting session? Or should I still precook (smoke/simmer) before freezing and roasting?

I understand there will be many different opinions, I’m just making sure that I understand your points correctly.

Many thanks
 

DRKsmoking

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In my opinion it still should be soaked , the injection is to help with the thicker areas and to help from inside out.
For something of that size I think at least 14 days

But I will let one of the more experienced folks to jump in here. Good luck

David
 
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alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
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THank you for that, I’ve found a new sheep vax gun in the shed here, I’ll get a longer needle for that and it can be hooked up to a couple of litres of brine at a time and just keep injecting rather than refilling a syringe constantly.
I have access to clamp lid style open top drums which should be a good size for this mission, and fridge space is no issue, I have garage fridges, beer fridges and additional thermostats on my fermentation fridge to set an exact temperature out of normal fridge range if needed.

Can anyone comment on if I’d NEED to simmer or smoke it after brining if I plan to roast it anyway?
I know the supermarket ones can be brought home and eaten cold, but I’m guessing a post brining precook in my case would still mean I only need to warm it and crispy it up when the time comes for our trip.

Trust me anything I’ve asked so far, I did google and site search first, but either found conflicting opinions or no answer to the exact question.

Thanks for helping a noobie so far guys n gals.
 

tallbm

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THank you for that, I’ve found a new sheep vax gun in the shed here, I’ll get a longer needle for that and it can be hooked up to a couple of litres of brine at a time and just keep injecting rather than refilling a syringe constantly.
I have access to clamp lid style open top drums which should be a good size for this mission, and fridge space is no issue, I have garage fridges, beer fridges and additional thermostats on my fermentation fridge to set an exact temperature out of normal fridge range if needed.

Can anyone comment on if I’d NEED to simmer or smoke it after brining if I plan to roast it anyway?
I know the supermarket ones can be brought home and eaten cold, but I’m guessing a post brining precook in my case would still mean I only need to warm it and crispy it up when the time comes for our trip.

Trust me anything I’ve asked so far, I did google and site search first, but either found conflicting opinions or no answer to the exact question.

Thanks for helping a noobie so far guys n gals.
Hi there and welcome.

I agree on the soak plus inject.
Just to be clear you would mix up your liquid with cure#1, salt, and other seasonings. DO NOT simmer or heat the cure #1 in a liquid or it will nullify it. I dissolve my stuff using a blender and liquid and then add the blender dissolved stuff to the main bulk of the liquid already in the soaking tub/bucket/vat etc.

Now if you are going to roast it there is no need to pre-cook it.

Simply pull out of the curing/brining solution and roast away!

The hardest part is finding a tub/vat big enough to submerge and soak the thing.

Injecting is simple if you have a meat syringe or something like what you describe.
No need to get fancy with different containers of pre mixed solution etc. just measure out and make the total amount of cure/brine solution and pour into your soaking bucket/tub. Then inject that solution while soaking. Cover and refrigerate until cooking time. Super simple this way :)
 

Sven Svensson

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I’m out of my league here but my concern would be injecting like crazy around the bones like you would with a whole leg. I lost a beautiful fresh giant leg once to bone sour most likely because I didn’t inject enough. If you’re using an equalization brine then injecting it like crazy won’t overdo it.

I’ll stand aside now and watch what happens. This looks like a lot of fun and there’s nothing better than pulled ham.
 

alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
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Thank you both for the recent replies,

I appreciate all inputs,
I can sort a vessel to hold the pig and brine no issues, it won’t be a super huge pig as I’ve had one family pull out of the trip already, but we will have a 12volt fridge for left overs and we’re only away for 2 days so nothing will be wasted still. I just like the feature of doing a whole animal and my other nick name is Captain Overkill, so i do have standards to uphold haha.



I’ll talk to my porky supplier and see what sizes he has now and coming up, as this will determine when I get the fresh carcass, I thought a precook wouldn’t be necessary but always good to check.



As for concerns about injecting like crazy, I comprehend that as make sure that I do inject like crazy?, rather than not enough?



Thanks again everyone
 

alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
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And equalisation brine is like the Japanese on my car fuse box to me at the moment.
I’ve found heaps of recipes, but how to know a good one from a bad one is still beyond my skill set and experience.

Any tips or thoughts on that?
 

Sven Svensson

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Look up Pop’s brine on this site. It’s foolproof. I use it all the time. It’s very basic and simple. I’ve modified it to my taste. I do not like salty hams. Pop’s calls for a full cup.

1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3/4 cup kosher salt
1 Tablespoon Cure #1
1 gallon very cold water

Never heat the mix. It’s not needed. Heat kills the curing salt. After injecting like crazy I let it soak for 10-14 days but usually 14 days.

This works on shoulders, butts, loins, and even pork belly for making bacon. There are other equilibrium cures in this site that boost the flavor profile by using vegetable broth. It’s super good. But for super simple and basic, Pop’s is the best place to start.
 

SmokinEdge

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Thanks for that, would that suggestion imply to only inject brine or to also soak it in some too? I can sort the technology to do either or both before the time comes.

So inject and refrigerate for at least 10 days, then if still too long before the trip chuck lil piggy in the freezer until a day or 2before the roasting session? Or should I still precook (smoke/simmer) before freezing and roasting?

I understand there will be many different opinions, I’m just making sure that I understand your points correctly.

Many thanks
Is this skin on pork? And what weight of pig are we working with?

You can inject only, that is my preference, or use a soak in a brine, but that won’t work well if skin is on.
 

tallbm

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And equalisation brine is like the Japanese on my car fuse box to me at the moment.
I’ve found heaps of recipes, but how to know a good one from a bad one is still beyond my skill set and experience.

Any tips or thoughts on that?

The principle of an equilibrium brine/cure is that you know the exact amount of salt, sugar, and cure needed and it will never get too salty.

So if you get the weight of your water + the weight of your meat and than do like 1.65% (0.0165) of that weight as salt you will never get too salty.

1% of that weight as sugar.

Then cure based on that total weight.

See the salt and cure want to travel equally between the water and the meat (hence equilibrium brine).

Because you did the exact math AND you injected the solution you never go wrong. The salts and stuff travels 1/4 inch every 24 hours. So when you inject all over you have the salt and cure travel outside in and inside out.

As mentioned, skin will impede the travel BUT you could just score down the meat all over as well and then make sure you soak and cure for a long enough time so salt and cure travel all the way through. Injected like crazy speeds this up big time as well.

Let me know if this makes sense :)
 

HalfSmoked

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You have reicived a lot of information here. I have found to brine soak you will need a large container doing a whole pig could be hard to do unless you have access to a
walk-in cooler.

Warren
 

alwayslearning

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Jan 22, 2023
12
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Thanks heaps for all the replies and info folks. I’ve had my phone off for repairs and just got it back, hence the delayed replies.

I perhaps should have been clearer that I understand the idea of an equilibrium, just not in the brining sense, but thanks for the explanation, that does make more sense now. I guess I would just need to estimate the meat percentage if dealing with unboned meat/carcass.

As for whole weight, I couldn’t even hazard a guess on the last one (pictured above) but it wasn’t huge, maybe 800mm from ass to snout.

I won’t be eating anything from the head myself, so unless a ham brined head is actually any good, then I don’t fancy much chance of selling the head to a passer-by either, so would probably remove before brining and maybe just add it to the spit shaft on the day for appearances.
Who know, it is the weekend of a wild food festival, so someone may want it?

My point being, without the head, and not being a huge pig, I can soak it in a drum in one of my spare fridges, injecting sounds like a good idea on the legs and shoulders too, just to make sure, we have tractors, crane trucks and plenty of drums and fridges to make that work.
Also, I’d probably be doing some cross cross cuts on the skin before turning on the spit roast anyway, so, I don’t have any issue with doing that before the soak, this should get rid of the issues the skin introduces with a soaking method.

At this stage im still 5 weeks out from my trip, so still a few weeks to plan the method of the madness.

I’ve heard of cured cheeks, but anyone ever ham cured a head?

Thanks for everything so far folks.
 

tallbm

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Thanks heaps for all the replies and info folks. I’ve had my phone off for repairs and just got it back, hence the delayed replies.

I perhaps should have been clearer that I understand the idea of an equilibrium, just not in the brining sense, but thanks for the explanation, that does make more sense now. I guess I would just need to estimate the meat percentage if dealing with unboned meat/carcass.

As for whole weight, I couldn’t even hazard a guess on the last one (pictured above) but it wasn’t huge, maybe 800mm from ass to snout.

I won’t be eating anything from the head myself, so unless a ham brined head is actually any good, then I don’t fancy much chance of selling the head to a passer-by either, so would probably remove before brining and maybe just add it to the spit shaft on the day for appearances.
Who know, it is the weekend of a wild food festival, so someone may want it?

My point being, without the head, and not being a huge pig, I can soak it in a drum in one of my spare fridges, injecting sounds like a good idea on the legs and shoulders too, just to make sure, we have tractors, crane trucks and plenty of drums and fridges to make that work.
Also, I’d probably be doing some cross cross cuts on the skin before turning on the spit roast anyway, so, I don’t have any issue with doing that before the soak, this should get rid of the issues the skin introduces with a soaking method.

At this stage im still 5 weeks out from my trip, so still a few weeks to plan the method of the madness.

I’ve heard of cured cheeks, but anyone ever ham cured a head?

Thanks for everything so far folks.

Sounds like you are in business?!

Never heard of a cured ham head but have heard of cheeks/jowels and the ears for dogs.

I don't see any issues with a cured head but if you can sell it off then go for it. Traditionally, Mexican tamales are made by boiling down a pigs head and all the meat/fat from it. So if you know anyone that does traditional tamales I'm sure they would love a pig's head :)
 
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