How to Wet Cure Hams

Updated July 20, 2017

The method used to wet cure ham uses salt and water, as well as sugar, honey, spices or seasonings, depending on the desired result. This curing process requires very little upfront work, but has a long processing time if the piece of meat is large. Wet curing yields ham with less intense flavouring but the meat is moister and the process takes less time than other methods.

Purchase a fresh section of the hind leg of a pig, as large or small as you feel you require. This cut may be referred to as a fresh ham. Just ensure the meat is not cured in any manner.

Prepare the brine carefully, following a recipe of your choosing. Most brine recipes call for sugar, salt and curing salt, but sometimes include other spices or flavourings. Combine all the ingredients with enough water to cover the meat, stirring until everything is dissolved completely.

Get a large enough pot to hold the meat and small enough to fit in the fridge; place the pork into the pot. Pour the cold brining liquid over the meat until it is completely covered. Place a cover or plate on top of the liquid to keep the pork submerged.

Store the pot in a fridge until the ham is done. Turn the meat over daily to ensure even curing. This process takes approximately one day per two pounds of meat. An average sized ham will take a week to completely wet cure.

Remove the ham from the brine and rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Prepare the wet cured ham as desired, either smoked, fried or baked. The ham is cooked after curing so can be consumed without any additional preparation.


If the cured ham turns out too salty, soak it in fresh water in the refrigerator for a few hours This will leach some of the salt out of the meat.


Sugar should only be used in brine when curing in a fridge because it can start the fermentation process and spoil the meat. Always scoop out any foam or slime that appears on the surface of the brine because it can be a source of contamination.

Things You'll Need

  • Fresh ham leg with or without bone
  • Curing salt (pink salt)
  • Kosher salt
  • Brown sugar or honey, optional
  • Spices or seasonings
  • Water
  • Large pot
  • Plate
  • Weight for plate
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About the Author

Michelle Anderson is a professional corporate chef with more than 25 years of experience. She has served in every aspect of the hospitality business, from catering to overseas work.