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Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:34 pm
by Chris Ritchie
Hello, Happy Holidays!

I made a combination ( injection and dry rub) Ham for Chistmas using the calculator (see below). The ham was delicious!
However, I expected a uniform pink color and the ham had a more natural cooked pork color. This is not really a complaint. I am just curious if it should have had the "cured color" you get from cure #1. I used a digital scale with tenth of a gram precision. I injected with a heavy duty injector with a large perforated needle. The Ham cured for 14 days. It was cured throughout.
This is my first time using salt petre.

weight: 22.11 pounds = 10028.9 grams (-20% for bone)

salt: 241.6g
sugar 60.4g
rapadura sugar 60.4g
saltpetre 4.83g

total 367.23g dry mix


water 619.3g
dry mix 182.7g

total brine cure 802g
( after spices removed and dry mix added)

Dry RUb: 184.5g

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 1:28 am
by wheels
I think that I wrote that tutorial and did the calculator Chris. But, I will say, it's not one of my cures. I don't write about cures using just saltpetre because they're so fickle (In my experience). It's great that you "got away with it" and that "The Ham was delicious", but "cured throughout", I'm not sure?

I think that we probably need to have a look at the tutorials, to ensure that they produce a 100% quality product.


Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:33 am
by Chris Ritchie
Thanks Phil,

I take it from your comment that is should have had the rosy color you get from cure #1? I said it was "cured throughout" but perhaps I should have said it was brined throughout.
Also, I forget the exact wording of the tutorial but I remember that it was unclear when I should dissolve the cure in the injection liquid. While it is hot?, warm?, Completely chilled?
I waited until after it was completely cool. I stirred to dissolve and dont believe there was any undissolved particles.

This brings up the question: Must cures 1and2 and salt petre be dissolved below a certain temperature?

Also, the tutorial recommends placing the ham in a certain part of the fridge (warmer I presumed) why is this important?


Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:11 pm
by NCPaul
I think that cure # 1 should be added if you want the ham to look rosy. To get that color from saltpetre requires a bacteria capable of reducing nitrate to nitrite; if the bacteria aren't present, the nitrate isn't doing much. This is the reason cure # 1 was developed. I believe that it is OK to dissolve saltpetre hot but cure # 1 and 2 should be dissolved cool (to avoid oxidation of the nitrite).

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Sat Dec 28, 2013 5:57 pm
by Chris Ritchie
The leg for the ham was previously frozen which would diminish the chance of the needed bacteria being present.

After the 14 days of curing it was rinsed then cooked 3 days later. Perhaps not enough time for conversion?

The bacterial conversion would also explain the importance of a warm refrigerator.

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 5:00 pm
by ComradeQ
I just completed a ham using the same cure calculator however, knowing the reliability of cure #1 I used the combination cure #1/saltpetre recipe. The results of my ham were outstanding, I will get round to posting pics at some point today. I had a great pink cured colour and the flavour was spot on. I have never used saltpetre prior to that and likely will rarely use it again as I trust cure #1 more, however it is my understanding that pure saltpetre cures require a significantly longer time to convert the nitrates to nitrites so it could very well be you didn't cure it long enough. Maybe Oddley can answer better as it was his recipe that you used.

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 6:05 pm
by wheels
Unfortunately, Oddley's not been around on the forum recently.

Other members will be as aware as I am that Oddley's cures and recipes are invariably superb. I have little experience of using saltpetre on it's own in an injection cure. FWIW, my own opinion is that, for whatever reason, the reaction between the saltpetre and the bacteria in the meat didn't happen. I ask myself: "Given that half the cure is coming by way of dry curing, is a equalisation period after curing required?", but conclude that I don't know!

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Mon Dec 30, 2013 9:34 pm
by johngaltsmotor
I recently did a bone-in Venison ham using Oddley's combination cure and it turned out superb.
Because some people use Saltpetre and some don't I was also confused. But in running through the calculations, with his cure numbers, if you substitute Cure #2 gram per gram for Cure #1 it contributes less Nitrate than the calculation that includes Saltpetre. In this way personally I decided it was safer than risking mis-measuring Saltpetre, but if Nitrates were beneficial I was covered.

Did it taste cured or simply brined? The taste and texture of bringing are very different from curing.
(To others more experienced: Is it possible that it was cured by the Nitrates but not before the chemical processes occurred that let it change color during cooking?)

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 12:50 am
by wheels
Thanks for that johngaltsmotor. As a pedant, I have to point out that cure #2 is sodium, whereas saltpetre is potassium. But in reality, that don't matter a jot!

Phil :lol: :lol:

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:37 am
by Chris Ritchie
The ham tasted cured. I wouldnt know the taste of proper saltpetre cured ham as I have never had one.
I noticed splotches of rosy pink ham but much of it was cooked pork color. I didnt investigate as much as I would have liked because I fell ill with a stomach flu the next day! Not from the pork mind you but from a virus my 1 year old gave me . (Getting puked on in the middle of the night tends to pass viruses)

In one of Maynard Davies Books he discusses the need for 12 days to mature and equalize the ham in the fridge after it has been removed from the brine. Plus, he mentions another 7 days hanging at a warmer temp to finish the process.

Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Tue Dec 31, 2013 3:02 pm
by wheels
Is that with reference to injected hams?


Re: Saltpetre Combination Cured Ham Color

PostPosted: Wed Jan 01, 2014 6:47 pm
by Chris Ritchie
Maynard says "12 days to equalize or mature" in a cool fridge (40-42 degrees F) and "after this the bacons (general term) must be taken from the fridge and hung up in a dry, airy place at a temperature of somewhere around 50-60 degrees F.
This is in the Wet Curing chapter BUT in the Combination Cure chapter he has you "put into a muslin bag and leave in an airy place to mature."

It seems that the curing method would affect the amount of time needed for equalization and maturation.. I believe the 14 days required in Oddley's cure is longer than needed to allow time for equalization/maturation. The three step process (cure/equalize/maturation) is combined into one process.

From the Wedliny Domowe website:

"potassium Nitrate which works best at temperatures of 46-50° F (8-10° C) "

"Potassium Nitrate worked wonderfully at 4-8°C (40-46°F) which was fine as refrigeration was not very common yet. If the temperatures dropped below 4°C (40°F) the bacteria that was needed to force Nitrate into releasing nitrite would become lethargic and the curing would stop"

"Cured meat will develop its true cured color only after submitted to cooking (boiling, steaming, baking) at 140-160° F (60-71° C). The best color is attained at 161° F (72° C)."

Two possible reasons why my ham did not show proper curing:

Too cold in my fridge during the 14 day cure especially considereing my ham was previously frozen.

Secondly: The ham was pulled from the oven at an internal temp of 145 degrees (BriCan method) and my ham may not have reached 160-161 degrees.

I cured another ham using the same recipe with saltpetre the same day as this one. I will contact my friend and see how his turned out. I believe he cured it at a warmer temp (garage) . He also probably cooked it to a higher internal temp.