Page 1 of 2

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 00:21
by Chuckwagon
Hi Ross,
You asked:
Is there a crossover point where the thickness of the meat section will absorb the brine from both sides well enough to make injecting unnecessary?

"Spray pumping" is preferred over brining a ham for many reasons. Brining a larger piece of piggy may actually require several weeks for the cure to penetrate down to the very center of the meat. During this time, the bone marrow may easily spoil - depending upon how recently the piggy gave up his noble grandeur. Long periods of brining can also strip the meat of protein, causing an undesirable mushy texture. Rytek Kutas took issue with long brining. In the third edition of his book, "Great Sausage Recipes And Meat Curing", he wrote: "These long brining periods also can leach the protein out of the ham and cause it to be mushy around the bone after it is smoked and cooled. There is absolutely no question that spray pumping (stitch pumping) is by far the better process."

Comercially, "Stitching" or "stitch pumping" with gang needles enables Prague Powder #1 to cure ham so quickly that final processing may be accomplished the following day. However, we "home hobbyists" must use a combination of brining and pumping (usually 10 to 15 percent of the ham`s weight) to achieve complete penetration... even in a product as small as pork loins (for Canadian Bacon). Rytek further stated, "For home use, some brining always is required, because a single needle pumping a ham will not do a complete job."

Ross, in "Home Production Of Quality Meats And Sausages, authors Stan and Adam Marianski go into depth in dealing with the subject of brining. Pages 25-30 include photos and graphs explaining the details. On page 28, Stan made a statement most profound. He simply says, "It makes no sense at all to talk about curing time if we don`t specify the strength of a brine". It is absolutely true, yet I see folks making different strength brines with every new batch. I am happy that you have ordered the book and am confident you will find all sorts of answers to your questions. I hope this has helped a bit.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 05:06
by ssorllih
I am looking forward to have this book in hand because I intend to cure rather small pieces.
We are just two people so it makes good sense to me to make finished pieces in the two to three pound range. Even if I do an entire ham I will probably break it down into the several muscles that make it up. If it were beef there would be top, bottom and eye round plus the shank. I see no reason that these can't be treated individually but simultaneously in a cure and in smoking.
I am sure that most of my questions will be answered when I read the book.
FYI today in the grocery store fresh turkey was 1.39 USD per pound and cured turkey in the deli case was 8.49 USD per pound.

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 07:49
by Chuckwagon
Yup, and have you seen jerky prices lately?
When the FSIS started making producers meet new cooking requirements in higher relative humidity, it drove a lot of smaller manufacturers out of business as they could no longer afford the new equipment used for the process.
Aren't you glad you make your own?

Posted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 15:34
by ssorllih
I was in the Walmat grocery store recentlly and saw whole cryovac brisket for 1.49 USD per pound. Today I calculated the price of the meat in a commercial corned brisket at 3.49USD. I know that salt and water don't cost 2 bucks a pound

A question reflecting modern materials

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 04:02
by ssorllih
It is expected that the meat in a brine will take up about 10 per cent of its green weight. Freezer weight zipper bags are available in quart, gallon and two gallon sizes. A cut of meat may be placed in such a bag and brine equal to half the weight of the meat may be added and the air squeezed out of the bag and the bag sealed. The meat will be completely submerged and if turned twice a day be uniformly exposed to he curing solution. Is there a flaw in this idea when applied to relatively small or thin pieces of meat ?

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 08:45
by Chuckwagon
On page 435 of Stan`s book, he writes, "You have to cover the meats and a lot of brine will be wasted if you cure only 1 chicken in a 55 gallon drum. A basic rule of thumb dictates that the amount of brine should come to about 40-50% in relation to the weight of the meat. For 1.0 lb. of meat, use 0.5 lb of brine. Try to use a container whose size and shape will accommodate the meat piece snugly in order to use as little brine as possible."

On page 437, he goes on to include a useful brining chart for salometer degree, percent of salt by weight, and percent of salt per gallon of water. Brines useful for treating poultry, meats, and fishes, are all included. Length of time during brining is discussed with much more information included. It is much too thorough and involved to discuss simply or briefly here. For people intending to make their own hams, I strongly recommend purchasing a copy of "Home Production Of Quality Meats And Sausages" by Stan And Adam Marianski, available from

You wrote:
Is there a flaw in this idea when applied to relatively small or thin pieces of meat ?
No. In fact, the only flaw I`d watch out for during the process, is with the plastic bags! I can`t get them to stop leaking - even the expensive ones. So, for smaller cuts I use the bags alright, but put them into the ol` plastic lugs before refrigerating them. If we can put a man on the moon, how come we can`t make a plastic bag that won`t leak?

Please take a look at Siara`s beautiful brining chart. It is really handy and a real time-saver, thanks to our friend Siara in Belgium. http://www.wedlinydomowe....peklowania4.htm

I hope you are also brining picnics (front leg) and shoulders (butts). Remember to inject 15% for these cuts (rather than only 10% for a ham), because these two cuts lose about 4% more pickle than does ham. Otherwise, use the same formula that you apply to ham.
And for goodness sakes, brine some short-shank ham (called "ham hocks"). Ham "hocks", heavily smoked with hickory, are the perfect meat to serve with lima or white beans. My sweet mother made "Cowboy`s Hocks n` Beans" at least once a week all her life. I`ll post a recipe for you in the "smoked pork" section.

Make plenty of ham Ross. The "water added" product in the markets, is just diluted crap. Make your own and enjoy the wonderful taste of real ham. And don`t forget to make your own bacon too. You`ll never go back to the supermarket stuff. Give a shout if we can help you in any way. I surely don`t have all the answers, but I bake a great sourdough biscuit!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2011 14:21
by ssorllih
Thanks Chuck,
Amazon tells me that they have shipped the book and it should be here by Monday.
I have found that the Ziploc brand freezer bags seal very well and I always put such as that in another containment vessel.
I often make chili and freeze some of it in zipper bags. I found a convenient method for filling them is to cut both ends from a large can and slip the bag over the can. Then stand it on the table and using a canning funnel fill the can, remove it from the bag and seal the edge. It holds everything neat.

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2011 02:10
by Chuckwagon
Great idea. Thanks for the tip!

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 01:04
by ssorllih
We are just two at home and it would be nice to cure meat in small portions. Is there a compelling reason to not separate a ham or shoulder into boneless two pound sections and cure and smoke it that way?

Posted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 07:38
by Chuckwagon
Hi Ross,
It is absolutely acceptible. I do it all the time. Like you, my hacienda only contains two people and we just don't eat that much ham. I cut it into portions and scale down the recipe accordingly. I do like to make it for guests though, and every once in a while I really go overboard and have a "ham it up" party. People seem to like the recipe I posted. Find a sharpening steel and get busy with a good knife. :lol: Easter's almost here!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Jun 16, 2011 05:51
by crustyo44
In the next few weeks I definitely will make this ham as there are lots of pork specials
Talk about exhorbitant prices for cured meats. Just as an example, I like to make biltong, and smoke some of it before is has dried.
In shops and on, it sells for around $ 60.00 per kilo. I use sometimes rump and silverside flats whatever is on special. Whole rumps on special sell here for around $ 4.99 a kilo, the flats cost a bit more.
Biltong is easy to make and freezes very well.

Beginner Brining Question

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 17:23
by porterdriver
I have a set of 3.5 gallon food lugs (with lids) that I do my corned beef/pastrami brining in. When I put a ~5lb. brisket in them, it takes about 2 gallons of liquid to cover the meat.

The brine recipe that I use calls for (and makes) 1 gallon for a brisket of that size.

What I have been doing is just making two batches of brine and putting that over the meat.

Is that correct? I don't want the expense of getting a whole new set of containers to brine in but I want the meat covered as well.

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 18:14
by Dave Zac
I use a 1 gallon (or 2 gallon depending on size) zip lock bag. As much as you can reduce the "extra" area outside the meat the better of course.

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 21:26
by porterdriver
There was some talk very early in this thread about injection was essentially 'required' because the brining will not penetrate all the way to the bone. Further, it was said one can't cure hams in just salt as it would not penetrate all the way either. How are American dry-cured hams, Spanish Serrano hams, and Italian Prosciutto hams made? I thought they were purely dry-cured in salt.

Hate to take the thread backwards but that is my ultimate goal is to make one of those three listed above (someday).

Posted: Mon Aug 22, 2011 21:37
by Chuckwagon
Hi Porterdriver,
Porterdriver, You wrote:
There was some talk very early in this thread about injection was essentially 'required' because the brining will not penetrate all the way to the bone. Further, it was said one can't cure hams in just salt as it would not penetrate all the way either. How are American dry-cured hams, Spanish Serrano hams, and Italian Prosciutto hams made? I thought they were purely dry-cured in salt.
Sorry pard, but that`s not what I said. If you go back and re-read my words, you`ll see that I wrote:
Many people have attempted to cure a ham by simply soaking it in salt brine before it spoils. The sad truth is that in using brine soaking only, the cure will not penetrate the innermost flesh, bone, and marrow of the leg, by the time it begins to spoil. - the very reason we must render a little assistance with a brining needle and give the piggy a shot in several places.
You also wrote:
How are American dry-cured hams, Spanish Serrano hams, and Italian Prosciutto hams made? I thought they were purely dry-cured in salt.

You are correct about these types of hams and your last four words describe the process. They are "dry-cured in salt" by rubbing them with and laying them in a very concentrated cure-salt mixture for months... plenty of time for the salt to reach the center of the ham.

Brined hams are only in the liquid for a matter of days - not long enough for the curing salt to reach the interior. It needs a little help with a needle. This type is not a dry-cured ham. It is called a "boiled" or brine-cured ham.

For more information about making the various types of hams and their names, please click on this link:

Best Wishes,