First Attempt at Curing: Bear Ham

Discussion in 'Curing' started by wellsy, Jun 2, 2016.

  1. wellsy

    wellsy Newbie

    Hi everyone.  I'm new to the forum (and smoking) and looking forward to becoming a better smoker.  I recently shot my first black bear and was excited to try making a homemade ham.    I researched ham curing and found some supplies at CTR refrigeration.  I got an injector, brine bucket, and FS cure.  The FS cure is their curing salt which is a 5% sodium nitrite blend.  I have a new to me Char Griller Pro which I have done a few recommended mods that I smoked on.


    Here is the recipe I used, brining time, and cooking times and temps

    bear ham        - 1 10lb bone in

    water            - 4.25 L

    Pickling Salt        - 1.5 cups

    brown sugar        - 2 cups

    FS cure        - 9 tsp of 5% sodium nitrite (most cures I see 6.25% so I added 1 extra tsp, I later calculated it and will use 10 tsp next time)

    pickling spices    - 1/2 cup

    garlic cloves        - 5

    -Boil all ingredients except FS cure.  Let cool then add cure.  Smells good!

    -Trimmed fat off bone in ham

    -Inject 8 oz of brine into meat getting next to bone

    -submerged in brine for 7 days, injected more brine on day 6

    -take out of brine and rinse throughly

    -pat dry and let air dry over night in the fridge

    -took out of fridge and rested at room temp for 1.5 hrs

    -tied up with butchers string

    -bbq over water bath at 400-450 F for 2 hrs (wife didn’t want bear cooked in her oven!)

    -internal temp 148 F to

    -moved to smoker preheated to 200 F

    -smoked for 1.5 hrs with applewood and cherrywood chips

    -internal temp rose to max 172 F

    -looks amazing!!!

    -pull from grill and wrapped in foil for 15 minutes

    -cut a piece near the end and beautiful dark pink almost red meat

    ​-very tasty and not too salty.  Not gamey at all

    ​-cut through the thicker part and 2 grey dime sized areas appear indicating the cure didn't make it all the way through the meat.

    -cut another section and the non cured spot has grown to the size of a quarter (would the 1 extra tsp have helped)

    ​-did not eat anymore and dissapointed because the cure went to the bone nicely

    -go on google and read about botulism from uncured ham

    -read advise to throw ham out

    -sign up on smoking meat forum to gain more knowledge!!






    I realize it was quite an ambitious project for my first meat curing and full smoke endeavour but all in all I thought it went really well and I'm really disappointed about the cure not fully penetrating.  It looks like it is the centre of an internal muscle group that I must not have hit with the injector?  Does cure have a tough time going through facia in the centre of muscles?  

    Please offer comments and recommendations on my overall procedure, risk of botulism and if I really have to throw this ham out.  It has now been in the fridge for a day and half as I've searched for info and put together this post!!

    I'm not deterred though and have a batch of Canadian back bacon in the brine now!  

    Thanks for your input!!

  2. okie362

    okie362 Smoking Fanatic

    I'd say it has more to do with the timing than the solution used.  I brine Buckboard Bacon 14 days and it wouldn't be nearly as thick as the ham you did.  An expert will be by later to answer your question definitively though.

    Don't be deterred,,,,,Just keep good notes and endeavor to improve each time.

  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have developed and used a similar method with great results.....Below are threads to explain how and why of my method...  It is similar to commercial injections except that....   The proper amount of cure, sugar, salt, seasonings and spices are injected into the ham so there is no reliance on adsorption and the time that adsorption takes....  once injected ALL the chemicals, spices etc. are inside the ham at 1.5" intervals and along the bones...    After reading, if you have any questions...   feel free to ask........

  4. wellsy

    wellsy Newbie

    Thanks for the replies.  Dave I can see the benefits of your injecting method and will have to give it a try.  I don't have a scale to weigh everything out yet.  I wasn't too impressed with the injector I got as it is the big stainless syringe  with three rings at the top and with about a 1/8" thick "needle" that is not even sharp.  It does hold a lot of brine, but I one inject at maybe spots.

    So do you think this ham is safe to eat with the uncured sections?  I've looked into the 40-140-4 rule a little bit and I think I would have been close.  It rested out of the fridge at room temp or 1.5-2 hours and then was heated on the bbq to 145 F in 2 hours.  Does this rule only apply to an oxygen less environment?
  5. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The 40-140 in 4 does not apply to products that have cure added...  as far as I know...

    Your time / temps sound OK....   Taking the meat to 145 then 172 did everything in...

     I like injecting ALL the necessary stuff inside the meat...  no guessing...

    These are about 8-$10 on Amazon....  0-100 grams..


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