Help Please. I live in Ecuador, in a small coastal fishing village, so ingredients are limited. I purchased a big fresh ham at the market today and want to cure it for Christmas. This is what I have on hand Tenderquick, salt,and sugars. Any help with a formula or recipe will be greatly appreciated. Please help or my husband is going to beat me with this sucker, I promised him I could do it and him hauled it around the market for an hour.

  • Louise, recipe requests are off-topic here, but I'm sure some ouf our comunity members will come up with a few suggestions, especialy as far as general procedure and food-safety are concerned. – Stephie Nov 29 '15 at 20:09
  • Besides, have you made up your mind whether you intend to dry-cure or wet-cure (brine) your ham? – Stephie Nov 29 '15 at 20:15
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    I think we're usually okay with sort of basic ratio/procedure type requests, where things are simple enough that there's not a lot of room for variation, with some ratios maybe being provided as ranges. I don't know enough about curing ham to say whether that applies here, but I can imagine it might. – Cascabel Nov 29 '15 at 21:42
  • I want to wet cure and then smoke it. Sorry about the recipe request. – Louise Nov 29 '15 at 23:04

General information on brining and smoking a ham can be found in many online sources. Here's a good one with illustrations. I would draw particular attention to the injection step. If you don't inject a large piece of meat like a whole ham, it will not cure evenly (or will take a ridiculously long amount of time to cure). If the ham is particularly large and you don't have a syringe or brine pump, the other option can sometimes be to cut up the ham into smaller pieces and brine them together to allow greater penetration of the cure.

Since you don't have the Prague Powder, you should make the brine using only water and Morton's Tender Quick. You substitute that for the salt and Prague Powder, following the directions on the package. I've never used Morton's Tender Quick for brining personally, but online sources seem to imply that the package indicates 1 cup per 4 cups of water. That seems like it would make a rather strong brine, but when curing meat, you should follow the cure manufacturer's recommendations to ensure safe preservation. (If the meat is too salty after curing, you can soak the ham in fresh water for a short time to release some of the salt.)

UPDATE: Here's a link to what appears to be the text of Morton's own detailed pamphlet on home curing. Morton's own website mentions to refer to this when curing large pieces of meat like ham. Proportions for brine are given on a later page. Here they recommend for injection brine strength:

2 lbs. of Tender-Quick per gallon of water for meat that is to be kept for only 3 to 6 months.

And they recommend injection:

The amount of Tender-Quick pumping pickle to use is 1 to 1 1/2 oz. of pickle per pound of meat.

While this describes the injection step, the rest of the information in this book describe methods for dry curing or wet curing with Morton's sugar cure mixtures, rather than Tender Quick. (However, I will note that early on the book clearly states that Tender Quick can be used instead for all curing processes; it just doesn't seem to give proportions.)

I should also note this Morton's method is designed for true long-term meat preservation, rather than a quick curing method to make something that will be ready for Christmas. (They say that hams should be brined for 3 days per pound, which if you have a 20 lb. ham will take 60 days.) Since you're presumably just curing the ham for flavor, not for long-term preservation, a couple weeks using their suggested method followed by smoking should still give you a good product in time for Christmas.

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