Making too much "ham"

Discussion in 'Curing' started by debbied1102, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. debbied1102

    debbied1102 Newbie

    Hi, I need some experts cause I’m in over my head.

    A neighbor had an extra pig to butcher and we went in on it. A first time for us. We also butchered it ourselves. When I said I wanted ribs, chops, hams, etc., they brought it in and we started packaging it.

    I ended up with 60 lbs in pieces for HAM. Didn’t even think at the time….that’s too much ham for us!. I just put the cure on it and away we went.

    It was cut into 4-5” slabs. I used the Morton’s Sugar Cure Smoked Flavor Dry Cure.  It called for 2 ½ lbs cure per 100 lbs meat. So I used just a little more than 1 ¼ lbs cure for 60 lbs meat.

    Later I really thought about what I had done. Some of those were supposed to be left alone and smoked for pulled pork. Ughhh.

    My questions are: Am I locked into keeping these as hams? Or could I wash off or soak the hams (either now or when they are done curing) and then grind, add other spices (but no more salt) and make sausage or something else with some of this?

    Also, since these “hams” are only 4-5” slabs and not a full ham, I’m not sure of the curing time. Any ideas?

    FYI, these were started about 28 hours ago. Thanks for any help. Debbie
  2. debbied1102

    debbied1102 Newbie

    After more research, found out this cure is intended for dry, aged curing.  As in months of hanging.  We assumed this sugar cure was the same as the  plain Mortin's Sugar Cure and it's not.  We had planned on curing for 3 - 4 weeks and then smoking and freezing.  Is that still possible?  Or safe?  The nitrate level is 1.5% in this stuff. 

    Thanks, guys. 
  3. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    The cure you have, must be and "Old Cure" as today's cure #2, "usually" have some nitrite in it.... You are correct it is designed to very long term drying and aging... up to 2 years or longer in some areas..... When properly applied with salt and maybe some spices, the meat is dried in a temperature/humidity zone that allows slow drying... It is done is a temp range of the high 40's.... that allows for some slow bacterial growth.. the proper bacteria is needed to convert the nitrate to nitrite... as the meat dries, the moisture content gets below what is necessary for bacteria growth... the meat may have a pH change which stops bacterial growth... The above "described" actions are very brief and in no way intended to be a lesson in dry aging curing... The finished product usually is intended to be eaten as-is and not cooked....

    I would not use it.... today or ever.... my reasons for that statement is...... new cure #2 has nitrites in it for the control of pathogens in the short term... the nitrates in the long term....

    Rick (NEPAS) posted this recently in another thread here.

    CURES - Cures are used in sausage products for color and flavor development as well as retarding the development of bacteria in
    the low temperature environment of smoked meats.
    Salt and sugar both cure meat by osmosis. In addition to drawing the water from the food, they dehydrate and kill the bacteria that make food spoil. In general, though, use of the word "cure" refers to processing the meat with either sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate.
    The primary and most important reason to use cures is to prevent BOTULISM POISONING (Food poisoning). It is very important that any kind of meat or sausage that will be cooked and smoked at low temperature be cured. To trigger botulism poisoning, the requirements are quite simple - lack of oxygen, the presence of moisture, and temperatures in range of 40-140° F. When smoking meats, the heat and smoke eliminates the oxygen. The meats have moisture and are traditionally smoked and cooked in the low ranges of 90 to 185° F. As you can see, these are ideal conditions for food poisoning if you don't use cures. There are two types of commercially used cures.

    Prague Powder #1
    Also called Insta-Cure and Modern Cure. Cures are used to prevent meats from spoiling when being cooked or smoked at low temperatures (under 200 degrees F). This cure is 1 part sodium nitrite (6.25%) and 16 parts salt (93.75%) and are combined and crystallized to assure even distribution. As the meat temperate rises during processing, the sodium nitrite changes to nitric oxide and starts to ‘gas out’ at about 130 degrees F. After the smoking /cooking process is complete only about 10-20% of the original nitrite remains. As the product is stored and later reheated for consumption, the decline of nitrite continues. 4 ounces of Prague powder #1 is required to cure 100 lbs of meat. A more typical measurement for home use is 1 level tsp per 5 lbs of meat. Mix with cold water, then mix into meat like you would mix seasonings into meat.

    Prague Powder #2
    Used to dry-cure products. Prague powder #2 is a mixture of 1 part sodium nitrite, .64 parts sodium nitrate and 16 parts salt.
    (1 oz. of sodium nitrite with .64 oz. of sodium nitrate to each lb. of salt.)

    It is primarily used in dry-curing Use with products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. This cure, which is sodium nitrate, acts like a time release, slowly breaking down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide. This allows you to dry cure products that take much longer to cure. A cure with sodium nitrite would dissipate too quickly.
    Use 1 oz. of cure for 25 lbs. of meat or 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat when mixing with meat.
    When using a cure in a brine solution, follow a recipe.


    ...Open this link by clicking of it.......

    This post was intended as an overview.... Some additional reading should be done.... The internet and blogs can be a place for serious misinterpretation of rules on curing..... Use the USDA/FDA and University sites for initial reading so you can differentiate truth from fiction......

  4. debbied1102

    debbied1102 Newbie

    Oh, that hurts.  At least I figured it out before we  had eaten it. 

    That makes me wonder how many people think Morton's Sugar Cure Smoked is just an extra flavoring and have used it without knowing that it is not meant to be used like regular Sugar cure. 

    Thanks, Dave

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