How to Dry-Cure Hams

Written by zora hughes
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How to Dry-Cure Hams
Dry curing ham draws out the moisture, reducing the ham's size by at least 18 per cent. (series object on white food - ham on white image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com)

If you are a fan of ham, dry cured ham is something you have to try. You can purchase dry cured ham from the store, but if you want to control the flavours and age the ham to your preference, consider doing it yourself at home. It is best to start this process during the coldest winter months, because you need to hang the ham to cure and age for several weeks to a few months, keeping it where the temperatures are below 40F to avoid spoilage.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • 0.907kg. non-iodised salt
  • 0.454kg. sugar
  • 28.4gr. saltpetre, black pepper or brown sugar (optional)
  • Meat wrapping paper
  • Twine

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Select fresh hams that have been chilled to 40F within a day after they were slaughtered. If you are getting your ham from a commercial packing plant, this has most likely already been done. If you are picking up your ham directly from the slaughter house, chill the ham as soon as possible.

  2. 2

    Combine 0.907kg. of non-iodised salt with 0.454kg. of sugar in a large mixing bowl for a basic cure rub. Salt is the primary ingredient that cures the ham. For more flavour and colour, optionally add ingredients such as black pepper, brown sugar and saltpetre.

  3. 3

    Open the hock end of the fresh ham and jam 3 tbsp of the cure into the opening. This helps cure the joint in the middle of the ham so that the bone does not spoil.

  4. 4

    Rub the skin side with the cure and then place it down on meat wrapping paper. Cure the rest of the surface of the ham.

  5. 5

    Wrap the fresh ham in the meat wrapping paper tightly, securing with tape. An option to help keep the cure in place on the ham is to leave it sitting on a counter for a day until the cure becomes wet from the moisture of the ham.

  6. 6

    Wrap a strong twine around the top of the wrapped ham. Hang the fresh ham shank down in a well-ventilated area. Avoid moist areas such as a basement or cellar. Hang it from a strong ceiling fixture or wooden beam. Let the ham hang for two and a half days per pound.

  7. 7

    Unwrap the ham when the curing time is complete and remove excess cure and mould with vinegar. Dab vegetable oil on the ham to stop further mould from developing.

  8. 8

    Wrap the ham back up and let it hang for another three to six months to let it age and acquire the proper flavour.

Tips and warnings

  • After the ham is aged to perfection, bake it whole and garnish with pineapples and cloves or slice and fry it in a pan on the hob. Cook the meat to an internal temperature of 160F.

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