Buy a fresh ham leg (uncured pork), a half fresh ham, or a piece of fresh ham
in whatever size you're comfortable with. I am using the term ham here to refer to the hind leg section of a pig - you must buy fresh, not already cured pork.
The size doesn’t matter; buy it as big or small as you are comfortable with.
Prepare the brine. I use a brine recipe from Michael Rhulman's book "Charcuterie" (which is excellent)
- 2 liters of water
- ¾ cup of kosher salt
- 1 cup of brown sugar (1 packed cup)
- 4 teaspoons of pink salt (insta cure #1) (4 teaspoons) A Curing Salt available at: AmericanSpice.com
Stir all ingredients together until dissolved. This brine can be multiplied as needed, and if you are doing a whole ham, you will probably need to double it.
Place your pork in a bowl or pot that is large enough to hold the meat completely submerged in the brine, but one small enough to fit in your fridge. Add the cold brine to the pork, and lay a heavy plate on top of the floating meat to keep it submerged.
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.
Rinse it off and prepare it in any way you enjoy. This ham is better if smoked (see here for instructions on hot smoking a fresh ham
) but you can just as easily bake it or fry off slices unsmoked, and it will still be great. It has become ham – it is done!
Curing your own ham is pretty easy. I think it tastes better than commercial hams that tend to contain lengthy and questionable ingredient lists and when fresh pork ham is on sale, it can be very economical. Plus it's kind of neat to make your own ham! A last tip…if you find the ham too salty you can soak it in clean water in the fridge for a couple of hours to leach out some of the salt. I don’t tend to find that this is necessary.