Curing Ham and Home Ham Curing
Curing ham in some countries, like Italy for example, where making prosciutto is as normal to them as home butchering. Meat curing is a useful skill to lean and part of homesteading and self sufficient living. There are a number of ways to cure ham, including dry curing which involves leaving it to cure by air, sugar curing, or brine curing where you use a lot of salt.
Curing meat, and particularly curing ham, is not always easy, and the meat can often spoil when the conditions are not right, so care must be taken at all steps to be successful in the end and to make sure that you don’t end up making yourself sick! Because of this, it is easier to experiment with a side of pork first before you attempt the whole leg of pork as it won’t be a total economic disaster if things go wrong. Also a ham will take longer to cure and is more difficult as a curing process.
Once you get the meat curing process right, your ham will keep for 6 months to a year. There are 2 methods of curing ham, one is to dry cure it where you rub a salt mixture into the pork and hang it up to dry, and the other is a wet cure where you place the pork in either a brine or a pickle and then hang it up to dry. The dry curing of ham is also called country style curing and is a slow method and your meat will keep longer this way than when cured using the wet cure method. When curing ham make sure that your pork is not fatty. If you have a fatty leg you will run the risk of your meat spoiling more easily than if it is lean. Once you have killed your pigs make sure that the meat is chilled very quickly to prevent any spoiling taking place before you start the ham curing process. Once your meat is chilled start the curing process within 24 hours of slaughter, making sure that the internal temperature of your meat is at least 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
How long for Curing Ham?
The salt for air drying hams will take about 7 days per inch of thickness to penetrate. Therefore a 14-16 pound ham will be 4-5 inches thick and will take about 28-35 days to cure. An 18-20 pound ham will be 5-6 inches thick and will require 35-42 days to cure. A 22-24 pound ham will be 6-7 inches thick and will take 42-49 days to cure.