My first cure

Discussion in 'Pork' started by squirrel, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    And thanks for the link to buy the cure, i ordered 8ozs of it, is this cure good for sausages as well?
  2. beer-b-q

    beer-b-q Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks Great Squirrel...[​IMG]
  3. pops6927

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

    Nice job, Squirrel!  One thing, however, you may want to invest in a brine pump, such as:


    This allows you to pump the brine in around the bone and knuckles so it is curing from the inside-out as well as the outside-in.  See my thread at the bottom on my tagline for Ham; I'd made my own Easter ham earlier this year and showed how to pump it.  I also get my ingredients and most my meat supplies from Butcher Packer too, they're reasonable and very good.   Pumping thick bone-in cuts prevents 'sour bone', where by the time the brine gets into the center of the product it's already spoiled, or spotty curing where some parts are pink and other parts have gray spots or areas.

    I use a milder brine recipe of my own (actually an adaptation of my dad's - he owned a meat market and cured and smoked hams, bacons, shoulders, turkeys, chickens, dried beef, pork loins, etc etc for almost 50 years:

    The homestead, Adams Center, NY:


    Sign on the side of the building facing the highway:


    Dad behind the meat counter collecting the handwritten meatbook receipts (mad he's still there and not at the golf course, lol!)


    A picture of one of the drip coolers holding hams and bacons fresh out of the smokehouses:


    Sorry for the trip down nostalgia lane.. dang I love the way you can u/l pics to this new forum straight off the computer without having to load up Photobucket!)

    He used to use a hand pump like that until he remodeled and we started doing a lot larger volume, not only for resale but also doing farmers hogs too, an average of 50-100 hogs a week; so he got a motorized brine pump and we'd make it up in 55 gallon batches and had a brine cooler that held 80 55 gal. brine barrels we'd keep rotated and had a big chart on the wall as to who's meat was in which barrel; we'd 1st brand each piece with their own particular code number so as not to get any mixed up; pump and pickle the pieces, then smoke and sort out and tag for pickup.  He had two Koch smokehouses that held either 300lbs. of bellies or 36 hams apiece that ran daily.  I modeled my smokehouse (below) from those, practically the same design but about 2/3rds the size (of course his were all metal and vented).

    Anyways, just wanted to let you know about the pump and the necessity of using it!
  4. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    how much would you inject on a ham the size of the one squirrel did? also what about sugar curing. seems that would come out even tastier, should you inject that as well?
  5. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    thanks again for the heads up, I just got off the phone with them and have a 1/2 case ordered. around 25-30 lbs
  6. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    The four days soking was what sold me im not waiting two weeks for something in the fridge lol

    do you think four days was a good amount of time or would you change it next time?
  7. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I would have added one more day, the directions say 2 lbs. per day, but next time I'm going to add an extra day. There was one small spot on the inside that didn't look like the brine hit it, that's why. I'm also gonna order the brine pump pops mentioned. It's just so darn easy to do, just so long as you have space in fridge for the brine bucket. The 7-8 pounder fit nicely into my bucket, so I'll stick with that size. Good luck!!!
  8. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    Thanks, the cure is on its way, so i will be doing one probably next week.
  9. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    Is that brining pump good for injecting too? its a little more than i want to spend to cure the occasional ham with.
  10. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    got my cure in the mail now i just need to find a container that will fit in fridge and hold a pork shoulder that doesnt cost an arm and a leg, any ideas? looked at walmart and didnt see anything
  11. pops6927

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

    Go to any bakery shop or bakery counter in chain stores and ask for some empty frosting or filling buckets, most places will give them for free - these are food safe buckets and great for brining and come in different sizes too.

    I use a longer brining time because I use 1/4th the amount of cure recommended; to one gallon of water I add 1 cup salt, 1 cup white sugar and 1 cup brown sugar and only 1 tbsp. of cure vs. 4.  I pump the thicker product to cure both ways (hams, shoulders, whole butts, whole turkey breasts, etc.) and soak 1 wk for poultry, 2 wks for bacon and buckboard bacon (unpumped) and 3-4 weeks for hams and shoulders (pumped); the additional soaking time also breaks down connective tissues and makes them more tender, one of my dad's secrets!  Fast curing with high nitrite levels the meat can be rubbery; longer slow curing with lower nitrite levels and it will tenderize more!  Plus, it's safer on the body too.

    And yes, you can inject as well as pump.  The brine pump comes with two needles - one is perforated to it sprays into the meat in 360° direction to pump it, the other is an artery needle that is sharp and pointed on the tip that just injects and you can use that as a flavor injector!  It's really a well built piece of equipment with plenty of uses!
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2010
  12. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    Thanks for the info Pops but now were back to brining for 3-4 weeks? You dont think this one week recipe will be any good? I dont have the experience in curing at all but when i saw squirrels's ham i wanted to try that.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Looks Great Cheryl !

    Was it really cured all the way in only 4 days?

    I think I'll stick to my dry curing. It just works so great for me & nobody ever got sick. I hate to switch from a winner.

    The one thing about the recipe you're using that strikes me as strange is, it says it will cure about 2 pounds per day. The recipe I use cures by the inch of thickness. Curing by the pound, and not taking thickness in to account is just wrong. A piece of meat (ham or bacon) could be 4 pounds, and could also be either 3 1/2" thick by 4" wide by 8" long, or 2" thick & long & flat. With my recipe the one 2" thick would take 6 days to cure, and the one 3 1/2" thick would take at least 9 days to cure. With the recipe you're using the time would be the same for both pieces. That just doesn't seem right to me, because it is the distance the cure has to go through the meat that takes the time. Thicker takes longer---Weight should have nothing to do with it.

    Don't get me wrong, I don't know everything, I don't even think I know everything.

    A few things I do know are:

    Too much cure is very bad for you.

    Curing too long doesn't hurt you.

    Not enough time curing is very bad.

    Not enough cure is very bad.

    If you don't use enough cure, or cure long enough, it might not taste bad, but it could be.

    Just my two cents,

  14. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    well maybe ill stick with store bought hams so im out ten bucks on the cure, i can use it for sausage so its all good.
  15. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    No---Don't do that.[​IMG]

    I didn't mean not to cure your own foods. I just meant make sure it's safe. I'm also not saying the recipe Cheryl used is not safe. My concerns about it may be unfounded. I know the way I do it is safe because it has been used by so many, and Morton's backs it. Don't let anything (including me) keep you from making cured foods that are way better than what can be found in stores. Just make sure you do it the right way & enjoy a real treat.

  16. squirrel

    squirrel Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It worked fine for me, there was one very small spot that looked like it didn't cure. I'm doing another one now and I'm doing it the same way but gonna go an extra day. I've done alot of research on this and I'm very comfortable with this recipe and method. To each his own. You need to take in to account Bear, that this recipe is for curing a 7-8 lb. pork shoulder picnic. I think that narrows down that it's not gonna be 12" thick for this one and 4" thick for that one. Yes, if you are curing a specific type of meat you should use a recipe specific to that cut. I can assure you I have not intentions of throwing around a recipe for something potentially hazardous without even doing my homework.

    When you say curing not long enough is bad, well that may be true if all you are gonna do is cure the meat and then eat it. I then cooked the meat to the proper temperature. So my question is how can curing it not long enough be bad if you cooked the meat to the proper IT?

    This is an excerpt from the National Center for Home Food Preservation's website:

    Extreme Cautions must be exercised in adding nitrate or nitrite to meat, since too much of either of these ingredients can be toxic to humans. In using these materials never use more than called for in the recipe. A little is enough. Federal regulations permit a maximum addition of 2.75 ounces of sodium or potassium nitrate per 100 pounds of chopped meat, and 0.25 ounce sodium or potassium nitrite per 100 pounds of chopped meat. Potassium nitrate (saltpeter) was the salt historically used for curing. However, sodium nitrite alone, or in combination with nitrate, has largely replaced the straight nitrate cure.

    Since these small quantities are difficult to weigh out on most available scales, it is strongly recommended that a commercial premixed cure be used when nitrate or nitrite is called for in the recipe. The premixes have been diluted with salt so that the small quantities which must be added can more easily be weighed. This reduces the possibility of serious error in handling pure nitrate or nitrite. Several premixes are available. Many local grocery stores stock Morton® Tender Quick® Product and other brands of premix cure. Use this premix as the salt in the recipe and it will supply the needed amount of nitrite simply and safely.


    So my point is that we are not using "pure" nitrites and/or nitrates. We are using the recommended premix. So with that said, I'm okay using it.
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    That's why I said, "I'm also not saying the recipe Cheryl used is not safe".

    The main thing I question is this statement on their site----"Keep it in the fridge until done. It will cure at the rate of 2 pounds per day. A large ham will take about a week". The underlined part is clearly wrong in my book, and any I have read. A large Ham cured in a week? I don't think so. 

    I never use anything but TQ, because of the small amount of the other types used. I do the dry cure method, and I find it hard to figure out how anyone can evenly rub 1 ounce (or whatever the amount is) of cure on 25 pounds of meat. I use 1/2 ounce of TQ with every pound of meat.

    Tender Quick mixes their cure with salt so it can be evenly distributed, and to make it too salty to eat if you screw up & use too much. Since I know I have screwed up in the past, I like that idea.

    I was in no way trying to put down what you did. I just wanted to throw caution into the picture. Their times are far too short for the cure to work completely, and most people who want to cure meat want to cure it completely, whether they cook it completely while they're smoking it or cook or fry it later.

    There are places on the internet that show you how to "cure" bacon with salt, instead of cure. Just because they print it doesn't make it right. You can't "Cure" meat with salt.

    Your Ham looks great !!!!

  18. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    Well even if her ham was not cured all the way through or long enough, if she smoked it at 200 or better then it would be safe, but im thinking doing it at way lower temps would be better, im not knocking your way either Cheryl but theres people on here that have been doing curing for a long time so i have to go with what they are saying, then again opinions are like a*#holes and all that lol

    Im not worried about getting sick as much as wasting the time and fridge space.
  19. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I didn't make my comments to criticize Squirrel (Cheryl). What she did was safe as can be, because she cooked her almost cured Ham, it will not hurt anyone, and will taste GREAT.

    I posted because someone asked for the recipe. Then the link was posted to that recipe. At the risk of offending people, my posts have been directed toward others, mostly newbies, who will go to that link and say, "Oh Gee, I can cure & smoke my own Ham". Then they will get a fresh Ham, and use that recipe----"cure" 2 pounds of Ham per day. Then they will smoke it low & slow. It is mentioned later that some of the middle of the ham was not cured following their recipe exact. That's OK, if you cook it like Cheryl did, but not all those who go to that site will be able to figure out the fact that the recipe is not giving enough days in cure to safely do the job properly. I have researched this for a long time (months), and at the time I started on this forum, there would have been at least 1/2 dozen guys jumping on this recipe, but I guess the new platform slowed the response of many of the veterans on this forum, because nobody else seems concerned about the times in cure being too short.

    It says 2 pounds per day. That would be 10 pounds in 5 days. The rules followed by most experienced meat curers on this forum would say 5 days would be long enough to cure a piece of meat that is 1 1/2" thick, with the added two days for safety, and without adding any safety margin, it would still only cure a piece of meat that is no more than 2 1/2" thick.

    I'm sure that nobody on this forum would intentionally post a recipe that could harm anyone, especially a nice young lady like Cheryl. The fact remains that the recipe at that link says to cure 2 pounds per day, and doesn't even mention the thickness. This is not in agreement with any writings I have ever seen.

    If anyone uses this recipe, please cook it hot & fast after curing. Get it through the 4 hour danger zone, just like you would raw pork, because it may not be cured all the way to the center.

    If I have offended anyone, so be it. It was not my intention. I thought about it before I started typing my first comment to this thread, but I figured it was more important to inform people (especially newbies) of the problem with the recipe at that link posted earlier in this thread.

    Thank You,

  20. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Thank you, Bearcarver.  I, for one, appreciate your insights.  I haven't cured anything yet, but I want to, and the tips that you and Pops have dropped on us will be most beneficial, I'm sure.

    Of course, I'm not knocking Cheryl in any way.  That ham looked awesome, and you know that I love you, squirelly-girl!  You're one of the most creative people here, and I always get hungry looking at your Q-view.  Expect to have me over for dinner the next time I head back to Georgia! [​IMG]

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