Is Christmas Spoiled? Please HELP

Discussion in 'Curing' started by josecgomez, Dec 21, 2011.

  1. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    Yes it was submerged in the brine the whole time.
  2. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Since it was submerged the whole time I would think it would be OK. I'm wondering why you didn't inject the ham with the cure also. It seems like an awfully thick piece of meat not to inject. Be interested to see what Pops says.
  3. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    I am very new at this first time. and the instructions didn't say to inject.
  4. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    I understand.  There is alot of confusing information on the web.  When curing such a large piece of meat you have to be careful that the cure gets to the center of the ham.   Normally when doing hams we start with a known concentration of Sodium nitrite and salt then make sure that the ham absorbs a certain amount of the brine/cure mix.  That way we know that the ham is full cured and safe.  One was to quickly do that is to inject the cure/brine into the ham with syringes.

    Simply soaking a ham has been offered as an acceptable technique by many members but to insure it's safety we recommend keeping the ham refrigerated and then doing a fairly fast hot smoke.

    With properly cured hams we can allow the ham to age longer and cook at cooler smoke temps,  not being as concerned about the amount of time the ham is off refrigeration.

    I suggest you follow the recipe you are using but keep the ham well refrigerated and make sure you get it cook as fast as possible. 
  5. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    Thank you alblancher, I am still a bit hesitant though because I left it out of the fridge for 7 hours :(
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yeah, now that I've read these posts, a 65* room temp for 7 hours is still very risky. Here's my take:

    (copied pasted from another thread this question was posted on that I replied to)

    If I'm understanding you correctly, the ham had only been curing for 2 days. If it were left out at room temp for 7 hours, I would think that the brine/cure solution would have warmed well above 40*, and thus the ham would have slowly warmed up as well. Putting it back into refrigeration would be a very slow cooling, and I believe you would have spoilage. It would be difficult without having a thermometer in the solution to estimate the temp it would have reached, or how long it was above 40*.

    2 days will not be enough time to get a full cure with the methods I know of, including injection of brine/cure's definitely suspect, IMHO.

    I wouldn't take the chance...not worth it.

  7. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    Thanks Eric! man I am so heart broken I was hoping to have it for Christmas, oh well C'est la vie
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You're welcome, Jose. I know it's not what you wanted to be reading, but, food poisoning is something I would not wish on anyone.

    Keep the faith, brother. Pops6927 has extensive experience with curing whole muscle meats and is a highly trusted and respected source of info here. He has outlined his process for home-curing a ham HERE.

    Pop's process is more involved than most folks would think, but well worth the effort in doing it up with a proven method. I haven't done a home-cured ham myself, but if I ever do, his method looks like the route to go for me. If I recall correctly (I haven't read this for awhile now), this is a 30-day cure period, so be ready to commit some space in the fridge for your ham project.

    Hang in there! Do a bit of studying on that ham, and understand the why's and how's, then, you'll be ready for the next round.

    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  9. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Craig, you are Right Pops is a known Expert about making Ham...BUT....

    Harrisburg Area College School of Culinary Arts, The State of Pennsylvania, The National Restaurant Association, The Director of the National ServSafe Program, The Presidents of 2 area American Culinary Federation Chapters and over 500 Students...Do say that I am AT LEAST AS MUCH AN EXPERT IN SANITATION AND FOOD SAFETY!...

    I am really curious as to what everybody thinks happens in a Brine containing Salt and Sodium Nitrite!  Salt in itself is extremely effective an inhibiting growth of many types of Bacteria and virtually all Pathogenic Bacteria found on Meat, including Spore forming bacteria like Clostridium Botulinum, are wiped out by Sodium Nitrite...The entire Ham was intact Muscle, had been soaking for 2 days, in a highly Antimicrobial Nitrite solution, giving at least 2 inches of penetration into the muscle from 360*. It had been refrigerated down below 40*F and was at room temp a relatively short amount of time compared to the time it will have spent Cold smoked ( 100*F +). I am not even going into the Thermodynamics of Heat Transfer from Muscle to Water thru Plastic to Air, but suffice it to say, although it warmed up some, I doubt the Ham got up to a temperature where Psychrophilic ( Cold Loving ) Bacteria grow rapidly, this being 59* to 68*F...

    Bottom Line...There is no need to toss this perfectly safe Christmas Ham out...

    Anybody that has questions like this, Please PM me...I am really sorry I missed this post. For those of you that don't believe anything without documentation...Read the Following...JJ
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2011
  10. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Here is our conversation in the PM's exchanged:

    Quick Question

    Conversation between josecgomez  and you


    Today at 8:01 am


    I was refered to you from the forum as a well known expert in the curing process. I am hoping you can help me out.

    I followed this recipe  this year to cure my own ham. Everything went ok, except yesterday the brine got a little too cold 38F and I took it out to let it get a bit warmer. I forogot about it and ended up leaving it out for 7 hours. (Over night)

    Am I done for? I put it back in the fridge as soon as  i saw but, but I want to know if I will be ok? Or if I should thow it out. I had been in the cure for around 36 hours before I did that.

    Any input is greatly appreciated.



    Today at 4:15 pm

    A few questions if I may!  First, thank you for PM'ing me!  Now, you took it out of the brine, about what was the temperature where you left it out for 7 hours?  

    Second, did you do an internal temp on it before resubmerging it by any chance, or what did it feel like, around what temp on its surface?  Chilly, cool, tepid, warm, or warmer than room temp?

    Third, about how big of a piece of meat is it; is it a fore ham or hind ham (front shoulder or hind leg), and whole or half?  Approximately what weight if you know?  And, if you were to push an imaginary stick into the center of the ham in its widest part, about how deep would it go in?

    Fourth, when you first put it in the brine, did you inject it with a needle of some kind to put the brine in the meat inside, and if so, approx. how much or in what areas?

    These will determine what the answer would be!  Thank you for bearing with me and together we can come to a solution!


    Today at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to answer me

    1. I did not take it out of the brine, I took the whole thing brine and all out of the fridge, it was at 38F degrees at the time
    2. I did not take the temperature when I put it back in, I just tried to do it as quickly as I realized. It was overnight and the house was cool, so I would not expect it to have been room temperature, mabe 40-50 degrees.
    3. Its a 8.5lbs Leg i believe half
    4, I did not inject it, I submerged it didnt know I was supposed ot ineject it.

    Thanks for your help!


    Today at 6:35 pm

    Shouldn't be a problem then; the brine contains salt which helps keep it's temperature down anyways, and it probably didn't hardly even affect the internal temp of the meat in the brine if the exterior temp was that cool!  You should be good to go!  However, if it was a whole ham, you would have to inject it first to be safe; a half ham should be ok however!  See my thread "Hind led to Easter Ham!" thru the search bar or on the bottom of any of my posts under "Leg To Ham" - it will give complete instructions on how to cure a ham and smoke it!


  11. fpnmf

    fpnmf Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Gee..I see ya didn't clobber Eric too...

    Truth is I dont believe everything & everybody I see here.

    And I wont take the bait for a public display of "my bikes faster than your bike".

    My counters in the kitchen get regular sun..

    A bucket full of liquid would get fairly wam quickly.

    Thar's why I said I would be hard pressed to continue with it.

    You said>>>I doubt the Ham got up to a temperature where Psychrophilic ( Cold Loving ) Bacteria grow rapidly, this being 59* to 68*F

    And then gave the ok to continue.

    My guess is that it might have...

  12. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Well Craig, Eric didn't respond to Al's recommendation to contact me with, "PM Pops6927..a known expert!!" As if I have no clue what I am taking about...Whether this was your intent or not, Al recognized this as a Safety issue and made the proper suggestion...This in no way suggests that Pop's knows any less about Safety and I am sure He understands that.

    You assume the Ham was in direct Sun...I read where he said the room was 65*F...and having studied Thermodynamics in Engineering School, my first Degree before going back to College for Culinary arts, made the assumption that it was Highly unlikely it got over 59*F and even if it did was not at that temp more than 1 hour, within the Lag Phase of Bacterial Growth... But I guess that makes us both wrong for Assuming!

    And as far as taking the Bait...It seemed You were Baiting Me, not just my thought... Sorry, once again I and others shouldn't Assume...

    When it comes to Bikes I leave that up to my Wife, she is a manager at a Harley Dealer...I wish we had the Money to buy a couple...JJ
  13. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    If Pops and JJ say you are good to go and it's safe I would run with that. I trust there advice 100%. If there was any doubt as to whether it was bad they would have told you to toss it. IMHO

    I'm a tad bit confused here. I have never done a ham so the process may be different from my turkeys and pork. You stated in your PM to Pops and I quote (bold) "the brine got a little too cold 38F and I took it out to let it get a bit warmer."   Why would you want to warm it up? Safe food storage temps are 40 and bellow. When I brine, normally the meat is in a bag, in a cooler with ice packed around the bag. I use a digital probe to mounter the temp. The probe, is between 2 bags of brine if multiple bags, or in the brine its self for 1 bag. The temp is usually in the range of 33 -38. If temp gets close to 40 I add more ice. I currently have; 3 whole turkeys in brine in 1 cooler, temp is at 34. In another cooler 2 turkey breasts in brine, and that temp is at 36. If my brine temp was at 38 I'd be adding more ice to cool  it down, not trying to warm them up. Hence this is why I'm confused.
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hey Sprky, Thanks for the Vote of Confidence...There is Brining for Flavor like in Turkey's that are going to be Hot smoked at 225*F...No Cure#1 Sodium Nitrite needed and we Must Brine below 38*F.

    There is Brining with Cure #1 for Cold Smoking like making Ham and Smoked Kielbasa. This also needs temps of 36-38*F for Safety... But there are some recipes that say this type of Brine Curing can be done Between 40* and 50*F because it speeds the process...Recipes suggesting this temperature for Brine Curing are Old, Unsafe and should not be attempted!

    Stick to your plan and those Turkeys will be Awesome...JJ
  15. Two thumbs up to that!

    I cringe when I see Xmas!

    Would Xgiving make any sense?

    Or 4th of X?

    Just sayin'......
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2011
  16. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Thank for your input  JJ [​IMG]
  17. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hey Guys

    I PMed the op.  It turns out that there is a family member that could not handle a food illness so he has to be extra careful about what he cooks.  He decided to not keep the ham because of the high risk group he is serving.  I agree with him for that reason.   When serving an at risk population you take NO CHANCES and I think he is making the right decision.

    I also gave him my address and asked him to mail the ham to me!
  18. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    LoL WOW, what a heated discussion.

    As alblancher said, I am not going to be feeding the ham to my pregnant wife, but after reading all the info and getting the messages from Pops and Jimmy I feel like it would have probably been ok.

    To answer Sprky's  question the reason why I took it out to "warm it up" is because I read in several places that the cure stops working below 38F, (Probably wrong) but since I am new at this I trusted it. I should have come here first, but I didn't know about this forum until I made that mistake and searched for a "meat curing specific forum"

    I now know better and if I decide to make another I will follow Pops posts and will be asking lots more questions on here.

    As far as the ham goes, it is still in my fridge in the brine, I don't have the heart to throw it out just yet. I may smoke it and then feed it to my dog or something since my wife can't eat it. Or maybe i'll smoke it and mail it to albancher LoL

    Either way, I really appreciate all your help and the fast responses, its awesome to see such an active community in such a niche area.

    Merry Christmas to all!
  19. josecgomez

    josecgomez Newbie

    PS: I corrected the OP name for those that found it bothersome :)
  20. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Sometimes we act like a family during the holidays!  Well at least the family I am familiar with [​IMG]    

    Jose,  next day air is prefered!

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