Combination Cures FAQ for Beginners

Curing Beginners Guides, Frequently Asked Questions & Recipe Archive

Combination Cures FAQ for Beginners

Postby wheels » Thu Mar 26, 2009 5:26 pm

Beginner's Guide to Combination Curing Ham

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 make ham using the combination (inject and dry cure) method of curing.

About this cure method

This method combines two of the curing methods in other tutorials, the pump/inject method, and the dry cure method. Why? By using this system we can give the meat protection more quickly than in the dry cure method, and more cheaply than in the pump/inject method, or for that matter the immersion method. It has the added advantage of taking up less fridge space than either of the last two.

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 Saltpetre and optionally Cure #1 along with scales accurate to 0.1gm, or better. Scales of this type are available on ebay for around £10.

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. It can be boned and rolled or on the bone.

To use the calculator that makes the process easier you will need software to open Microsoft Excel files such as Microsoft Office or the free Open Office package.


The recipes and method described here were originally posted by forum member Oddley.

Download the cure calculator

The cure calculator you use depends on your choice of curing salt.

For a cure using saltpetre:

Combination Cure Calculator for Saltpetre

For a cure using both saltpetre and cure #1:

Combination Cure Calculator for Saltpetre and Cure #1

Either open this file and save them to your computer or "right click" the link and choose "save target as", and then save it to your hard drive.

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.

Open the calculator and enter the weight of the meat at (A).

If your meat has a bone estimate the % amount of bone and enter the amount at (B). Pork leg has about 20% bone.

Clicking your mouse outside of the white box, or pressing the "enter" key on your keyboard will then calculate your cure for you

Mixing the Cure

Mix the salt sugar and curing salt(s) specified by the calculator at (C), (D), (E) and (F) together. The sugar can be white, light brown, Demerara or dark brown; it's your choice. A mixture of white and light brown should give a nice mild ham.

Making a brine cure

Now we need to make a brine to inject into the meat.

Bring the amount of water, given by the calculator at (H) to the boil with any herbs and spices you fancy - add 5-10gm 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.

Boil the spices for a couple of minutes in the water, turn the heat off, and allow it to cool. Strain the liquid to remove the spices, reweigh it, and if necessary add cold water to make it up to the original weight given by the calculator at (H). Now add part of the dry mixture (G) made earlier. The amount to add is given at (I). Stir to dissolve it.

Injecting the Brine Cure

The amount of brine that you need to inject into your meat is given at (J).

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

Dry Curing the Meat

Now we rub some of the dry mixture we made (G) into the meat.

The amount to rub in is given at (K). This amount may seem very small, but it is correct.

Sprinkle about 80% - 90% of this dry cure rub onto the flesh of the meat and rub well in, getting into all the folds and crevices. The remainder is sprinkled onto the skin/fat side and rubbed in.

Now put the meat, along with any cure that fell off whilst you were rubbing it in, into a food grade bag, or wrap it well in cling film, and put it in the fridge. Put it in the warmest part in the fridge if possible, on a tray's best, just in case it leaks. Every day or two turn it over and give it a bit of a rub; you can do this "through" the bag without opening it. Don't worry if liquid comes out of the meat. It often, but not always, does. Just leave it all in the bag.

How Long Do I Leave It For?

Leave it in the fridge for 14 days then rinse and dry it.


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 way you choose.

Storing Your Ham

When cooked, 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 Tue Apr 14, 2009 4:42 pm, edited 1 time 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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