Okay, so remember when I made a bunch of ham on the outside, but roast pork on the inside, roasts in an attempt to make ham? And I gave up and made Cure Your Own Ham Steaks? I found this post on Pelletsmoking.com that has a Ham Brining 101 post that finally helped me wet cure a whole ham that’s ham all the way through. I can make a whole ham for the holidays again!
Pelletsmoking.com uses commercial curing salt in its recipe, but all commercial curing salt is dyed pink for safety and contains dextrose which is generally derived from corn. As I discussed in my Cure Your Own Pastrami post, I ended up having to make my own. If you’re not allergic to corn, use the commercial stuff. If you are allergic to corn, make your own below, but be aware you’re messing with dangerous stuff and do it exactly as I describe below, so you don’t poison yourself.
Making Curing Salt:
To make Curing Salt #1, or Prague Mix #1, or Instacure #1, you need a scale, with a digital readout going out two places. You need to be absolutely precise. The mixture must be 6.25% sodium nitrite (I got mine on Amazon, make sure it’s food grade) and 93.75% salt. To make 4 ounces of Curing Salt #1, you need to weigh out 0.25 ounces of sodium nitrite making sure you tare out or zero out your container, and 3.68 ounces of salt (I used Diamond Crystal Fine All Natural Sea Salt, again no affiliation with Amazon). Mix these together well, and store in a container that’s very clearly marked so that there is no confusion as to what it is. Do not ask me for cups or teaspoon equivalents because I will not do it. This needs to be mixed as exactly as described, you cannot wing it or approximate. I cannot emphasize this enough, the proportions must be exactly as described here to be safe.
Once you’ve made your Curing Salt #1, it’s time to make the ham!
Cure Your Own Whole Ham
Brining the Ham:
- Fresh Picnic Pork Shoulder or Bston Butt, 8-10 pounds
- 1 1/2 gallons of distilled or filtered water
- 1 cup and 2 Tablespoons of kosher salt or sea salt
- 2 cups of brown sugar, packed firmly
- 3 tablespoons Curing Salt #1
- marinade injector
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar, packed firmly
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
- 20 or so whole cloves
To prepare the pork shoulder for brining, the skin and some of the fat should be removed. Use a boning knife to trim the skin from the shoulder.
Mix your water, salt, brown sugar and curing salt together in a container large enough to submerge your pork shoulder completely under the surface. I frequent restaurant supply stores and use 12 quart Cambro food storage containers (again, no affiliation with Amazon). Mix all ingredients until they have dissolved completely to form your brine.
Measure out 32 ounces of the brine into a separate container. This is going to be injected into the pork. Place your pork into a container or roasting pan that will hold any brine run off. Use your marinade injector to inject the entire 32 ounces of brine into the pork, injecting evenly across and on both sides. Make sure that you inject thoroughly around the bones if you have them, to prevent bone souring. Also, if a some of the brine seeps out, that’s okay, but if it’s a lot, collect it and re-inject it.
After injecting the pork with your brine, submerge the pork in your large container with the brine, using a heavy plate to weigh it down if necessary. Cover the container and place in a 37°- 40°F refrigerator to cure for 4-7 days. Turn the ham over halfway through the curing process.
After you’ve completed brining the pork, take the ham out of the brine and place it in a roasting pan. Score the shoulder in a grid pattern with your knife. This is decorative but it gives a good outline for where to place your cloves.
Mix the brown sugar and nutmeg listed in your rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Cover the surface of the ham with your rub. Then insert a clove in each scored square in the ham.
Bake at 325°F for 35-40 minutes a pound until the internal temperature is 165°F.