Curing a Ham

When we had our hog processed, I asked the butcher to cut the hams in half. That is probably the wisest thing I’ve ever done in my entire life. Do you know how big a whole ham is? Geez. The answer is “HUGE.”

So, with 1/2 a ham, I can cure and cook with normal equipment. By normal, I mean a normal pan and a normal oven. I don’t even have a pan big enough to bake a whole ham!

Our 1/2 ham came in at 13 pounds. If you don’t cure your ham, it won’t taste like ham. It’ll taste like pork chops, so here are the directions to cure your ham. Note: This recipe contains pink curing salt which contains nitrates. Some folks say nitrates are bad for you, so please do your own research. Personally, I know nitrates are naturally occurring and you can’t avoid them, and I don’t eat enough ham to worry about it.

Ingredients for curing a 13-lb ham (adjust up or down for the size you need):

2 gallons of water

4 c kosher salt

4 c brown sugar

14 tsp pink curing salt

2 Tbsp pickling spice

Warm a quart or two of the water in a large sauce pan and add all other ingredients to dissolve them. Wisk them all together. Pour the liquid into a large container and add the rest of the water to cool it down. (I use a five-gallon bucket.)

Score the fat side of the ham with a knife, making a diamond-shaped pattern. Place ham into liquid and cover. If it floats, use a plate, a pot lid, or a brick to keep it under water. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 day for every 2 pounds. Yes, my 13-lb ham sat in the fridge for 6.5 days.

After the fridge time, rinse the ham. If you like it salty, go ahead and cook it. If you don’t like it salty, cover it with fresh clean water and let it sit in the fridge overnight. That will draw out a lot of the salt.

Bake at 325 for 20 minutes per pound (4.5 hrs for my 13 lb ham). Cover with your favorite glaze the last hour of baking. I covered mine with 1/2 c maple syrup, 1/2 dijon mustard, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. So yummy!

NOTE: You usually cannot find pink curing salt at a regular grocery store. It is not the same as any other salt, so don’t substitute. You can find it at Amazon. Search for Pink Curing Salt #1.

Mmmm, enjoy!

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