Injected Brine Cured Meat FAQ for Beginners

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Injected Brine Cured Meat FAQ for Beginners

Postby wheels » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:03 pm

Beginners Guide to Injected Brine Cured Meat

It is recommended that new members read the 'Beginner's Guide to Curing Equipment, Ingredients, and Terms' prior to using this guide.

What does it cover?

After reading this guide you should know how to brine/wet cure meat using the injection/pump method.

What's not covered?

Curing meat without injecting it.

Specialist equipment and ingredients

Most of the equipment and ingredients can be found in the home kitchen.

You will need some method of injecting brine into your meat. This can be either a purpose made brine injector, a large syringe and needle (canula), or a meat marinade injector.

You will also need Cure #1 and kitchen or other scales accurate to 2gm, or better.

Cooking the ham is made much easier with a meat thermometer.


Pay attention to hygiene; keep everything clean and safe. Ensure work surfaces and cutting boards are clean. You may wish to use plastic gloves when handling curing salts.

Choice, size and Source of Meat

Your meat can be from the supermarket, local butcher, or direct from the farm-shop or farm. You can cure as much or as little as you want. Remember though, the better the meat: the better the product - for this reason, many people choose rare-breed or free-range meat. However, for a first project, a joint from the supermarket is fine. If something goes wrong it won't have cost you the earth!

For ham you need leg of pork.

This method, but not the recipe, can also be used for curing other meats, such as salt beef, using recipes posted in other areas of the forum.

Making the Cured Meat

Firstly, remove any packaging and weigh your meat, don't go by the weight on the label, weigh it yourself and write the amount down.

Put it in a non-metallic container large enough to hold it when completely covered in brine cure, plastic food storage boxes are good.

Calculate how much brine you will need. Measuring how much cold water it takes to cover the meat is a good way of working out how much is needed.

The Brine Cure

Our basic brine cure is:

1000gm Water
155gm Salt
120gm Sugar
33gm Cure #1

This makes 1308gm of brine cure (about 1308ml).

You also add 2 - 5gm in total of a mix of herbs and spices of your choosing per litre of water, use a mixture and, unless you particularly like the flavour of one spice, use them in fairly even amounts. Suggested ones are juniper berries, cloves, coriander seeds, bay leaf, peppercorns - white or black, thyme sprigs and parsley stalks. I like more juniper and less cloves. Weigh the spices, and write the weight down; smash them up a bit before use.

The sugar can be of any type, white, brown, Demerara, treacle or honey. A mixture of half white and half light brown, or Demerara, makes a nice mild ham.

Calculate how much of each ingredient you will need to make enough cure to cover your meat. Weigh the ingredients out.

To save having to calculate each ingredient every time you make a brine cure, a spreadsheet is available that will do the calculations for you. The calculator is in Microsoft Excel format.

Beginner's Injection Brine Calculator

Put the water, salt, sugar and spices (in fact, everything except the Cure #1) into a pan and bring to the boil. If you are making a lot of brine, just use a portion of the water. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Leave to cool.

Using water, make the weight back up to the original amount - that is the original weight of the water, salt, sugar and spices, added together. That's the total weight of everything except the Cure #1. The downloadable brine calculator does this for you.

Mix the Cure #1 into the cooled brine mixture stirring to ensure that it is dissolved.

Injecting the Brine Cure

Injecting the brine cure into the meat is also called 'pumping'.

Calculate 10% of the meat weight - you wrote the weight of the meat down earlier! This is the amount of brine cure that you will inject into the meat. So if your meat weighed 1760gm, you would inject 1760gm x 10% = 176gm of brine cure into it. The calculator also does this calculation for you.

Inject the cure into the meat ensuring you get cure into all parts of it by injecting from all sides. I do the injecting in a separate bowl and re-inject any cure that leaks out.

Cure the Meat in the Brine Cure

Now place the meat into the remaining brine and put it into the fridge to finish curing. For pieces up to 2 or 3 kilograms 5 - 7 days is fine. Leave larger pieces for around 10 days. Turn the meat over in the brine cure occasionally.

Don't worry too much about the time in the brine cure - as long as the meat's in the cure for a reasonable length of time it will give the correct levels of salt, sugar and Cure #1, even if cured for a few days longer.

Rinsing and Cooking

Rinse the meat in cold water. There is no need to soak the meat in water. Just rinse it under the tap.

The meat can be cooked in a number of ways, most forum members 'boil' their ham, but the term 'boil' is probably a bad description. The meat and its cooking liquid never gets anywhere near boiling point.

The meat is put into a pan with any flavourings, maybe onion, carrot, celery, peppercorns, and bay leaf - that sort of thing. It's covered with water, or other liquid - maybe cider or even coca cola - and then heated until the liquid is around 70 - 75C. The liquid is tasted after about 15 minutes cooking and if salty replaced with fresh water. It is left to cook until the middle of the meat is 72C - use a meat thermometer to test it.

When cooked, leave it to cool in the fridge then remove the skin, slice, and enjoy.

Of course, you can use any method of cooking you prefer or serve it hot, cold, glazed, oven baked, honey roasted, or any other method you choose.

Storing Your Ham

This ham should not be kept un-refrigerated. Keep it in the fridge for up to a week or two, or keep it frozen for 1 to 2 months. If you Vac-Pac it, you can keep it longer but it must be kept it under 5C or frozen.

Last edited by wheels on Thu Aug 20, 2009 11:05 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Postby saucisson » Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:38 pm

Curing is not an exact science... So it's not a sin to bin.

Great hams, from little acorns grow...
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