Devo's Country Ham

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Devo's Country Ham

Post by Devo » Wed Jan 14, 2015 21:45

OK since this is a dry cure of a ham I put it here. If it don't belong here than please move it :)

I have recently got a 17.5 pound berkshire pig ham. I was going to do a prosciutto but decided on a country ham. Basically same process other than if your going to smoke it after the curing process which I am. Since its a country ham I am after here it will not be pressed either.
Now my biggest question here is after it is cured and smoked you hang it for 8-12 months. I understand this part but it differ's from prosciutto where they apply a layer of strutto on the exposed meat so it don't dry out to fast. All the videos I have watched for country hams has no strutto applied and just netted and hung to dry. So that is my question, why ??? Is it because it's smoked? is it because it's a dryer ham?? Or is it where it is done (Kentucky, Virginia) that there climate is such that its not needed?
Last edited by Devo on Fri Jan 16, 2015 07:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Shuswap
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Post by Shuswap » Thu Jan 15, 2015 01:12

Devo, I'll be watching for the answers as I'm getting ready to work on a ham. Here is an article on the Virginia Ham you might find interesting:
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/458/458-223/458-223.html
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Post by redzed » Thu Jan 15, 2015 18:13

Good question Devo, but I think the larding is just an Italian technique. The Spaniards also don't use lard on the their serrano or iberico hams.

I'm really looking forward to seeing your ham progress. I hope you will document it well and post for all of us to learn. Will you be using nitrites/nitrates or salt only?
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Post by Devo » Thu Jan 15, 2015 20:10

Tradition calls for just salt, and the recipe I will be following calls for just salt but i just might add some cure. I pretty much have my game plan laid out I just have to get this gear
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Devo's Country Ham Thread

Post by Devo » Fri Jan 16, 2015 01:14

So today I picked up the kosher salt and brown sugar that I needed for the salt sugar cure for the ham. Along with that I found a roll of table paper. I needed that to wrap the ham up with after salting it down. Earlier this morning I removed the aitch bone. Never did that before but watched a couple of youtube videos on how its done and its a piece of cake. Made sure I had lots of room to get the salt cure down inside the shank(hock). This is a must or you will get bone sour.
This will cure inside my little bar fridge for 13 days and than get another layer of salt cure for the rest of the time. (27 total)
Hams should be cured for seven days per inch of cushion depth , or one and a half days per pound of ham. This is what I am going for.
I have this web site which pretty much is what I am doing but I am mostly following this youtube video. One is from the Food Science and Technology, Virginia Tech and the video is a 4H video done by the UK College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment.
They added pepper and some hot pepper which is what I did also.

Reference:
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/458/458-223/458-223.html

Here is the youtube video.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcwu6K4crHc



My ham (17.5 lbs.) and 10 lbs. of back fat
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After removing the aitch bone. And pumping out any left over blood in the Mian vain
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Got my paper rolled out. Funny I worked in a paper mill for 38 years and I had to go out and buy paper.
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Applying the sugar/salt cure
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Wrapping the paper around the ham
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All netted up
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Testing to see if it will hold.
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Off to the cheese fridge down stairs. The little crisper will serve as a catch tray when it starts dripping.
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To be continued
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Post by DiggingDogFarm » Fri Jan 16, 2015 06:40

I hadn't seen that video before...it's pretty good but I wish he would have strongly emphasized how important it is to thoroughly pack salt around the bone...especially on the upper end. The bone is the most likely spot for trouble to start.

Can't wait to see the rest of your adventure. :smile:
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Post by Devo » Fri Jan 16, 2015 14:05

I did manage to get it down about two inches into the hock and piled it very thick on the butt face. I also have decided to go with cure time of two days per pound of ham and thinking I just might round that off at 40 days total cure time. Not knowing what the outcome is going to be makes you start to second guess yourself. :???:

I took this picture this morning (9 hours into it) Seems to be doing what its suppose to do and the drip tray is working out better that I could have hoped :mrgreen:
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Post by Devo » Thu Jan 29, 2015 18:07

Today was renew the salt cure time. I'm suppose to do this one more time before the 40 days are up. I will see how much liquid I get this time in the catch tray before I decide to renew. There was still a lot of salt left in there so I'm thinking its not necessary a third time. I repacked in around the bones very well and layered as much as I could on the outside of the ham before rewrapping. You can see the red color from the hot pepper. It had no funky smell and I also did the ice pick thing at the bone and to me anyways it smelt just fine.

So here is how much liquid was in the catch tray. About a 1/4 inch deep.

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After unwrapping
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Got it all salted back up and off to the 40 F degree fridge down stairs. Next step will be out of the fridge and hung in the basement for two weeks at about 55 F to equalize the salt. After that it gets cold smoked heavily with hickory. Then back down stairs to be hung till next Christmas. Can you guys wait around that long for the last update

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Post by rgauthier20420 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 18:55

Could you make something similar to this using a fresh ham from the market?
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Post by Devo » Fri Jan 30, 2015 03:04

rgauthier20420 wrote:Could you make something similar to this using a fresh ham from the market?
Ya I guess you could but it will not be a country ham. If your going to take the time to try this why would you want to cheap out on the right cut of meat?? I could have bought a green ham from the butcher shop put I waited for a farmer to bring his pig to market and bought something that was worth my time. It might turn out to be a total fail but at least I tried to follow the recipe as instructed. :)
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Post by Steve Schroeder » Tue Feb 03, 2015 04:44

rgauthier20420 wrote:Could you make something similar to this using a fresh ham from the market?
Of course. Hundred of thousands if not millions of American country-style hams are produced by smokehouses in the US every year using the exact same meat available in your market. The cut is usually called a green or fresh ham. Some smokehouses use skin-off hams because they cure. equalize, and dry faster and more uniformly - typically about nine months. I prefer skin on hams - these are usually called rough-cut hams, and might need more trimming, because they dry a little more slowly and look cool. The university of Kentucky video is excellent. I have about 300lbs of hams - some skin-on some skin-off in the cooler in equalization right now. We use both salt and curing salt on our hams because it creates and additional hurdle for some pathogens and helps keep the meat red. They are being held at about 40F right now, but I'll raise the temp in the cold room to about 50F/75%RH to imitate the increase in outdoor ambient temperature. By June they will be hanging in the smokehouse under ambient conditions.
Really, any whole muscle cut of pork can be cured and air-dried this way to excellent effect, including the butt or shoulder you buy at Sam's Club. Some decry "commercial pork", but it's what we've got. I wish it were fatter, but it's what is available. There may be some advantage to using some kind of heritage animal, but my own view is that this is a mostly romantic notion, held mostly by people who've paid the outrageous price for hand-grown pig. Let's don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. I paid $1.44/lb for rough-cut ham (wholesale, case lot) from a packer that supplies smokehouses all over Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky.
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Post by Bob K » Tue Feb 03, 2015 14:34

Steve Schroeder wrote:The university of Kentucky video is excellent.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcwu6K4crHc

Thank you Steve that is great info and the Video is excellent!!!!

Devo has also posted the link above.

Great how to from a reputable source.

The Ham bags used in the video are available from Butcher and Packer and the Sausage maker sells them as Ham Stockinets. They also work great for smoking bacon, loins, and whole chickens, and they can be washed and reused.
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Post by rgauthier20420 » Tue Feb 03, 2015 15:54

Steve,

Thanks for the confirmation and reassurance. I've got a couple things curing at the moment, so once I've got more room in the fridge, I'll be starting on of these.
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Post by Butterbean » Tue Feb 03, 2015 16:41

I prefer skin on. Curing hams is fun but requires patience. Get it over the first hurdle and get it equalized then its just a matter of waiting. Pretty easy too. I've experimented with several different techniques and prefer the skin on - hoof on as well. This was my last ham I cured and by far the best. Used more of a prosciutto technique which yielded a more gentler less salty ham than some of the country ham techniques I've done. Different flavor but both ways are good. Made some in 2010 and one is still hanging in a friend's barn. The taste of this one is very interesting but you need a good sharp knife to draw your samples.

This is the last I cut. Its wonderful. And if you want to try something really good take some wonton wrapper and hold one in your hand and place some thin sliced ham in the wrapper and top it with cheddar cheese then twist the wrapper closed like a Hershey's kiss then plop in hot oil. It tastes like a ham and cheese sandwich on steroids.


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Post by Devo » Tue Feb 03, 2015 16:57

I have a question for the guys who have done this before. When the ham is hanging in the smoke house or where ever it gets hung for the summer months what is the average temp inside? I believe they call it the summer sweat? I am up in northern Ontario so most of this will be done in my basement but I was wonder if I should move it out to my garage in the summer. The other question I have is about curing time. I see some say 2 days per pound and than some say 1 and 1/2 days per pound. What are your thoughts on that also.
Thanks.
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