Friday, June 3, 2011

Home Cured Ham

It has been months since I shared our hog butchering day.

But just last week, we final finished the process.

The hams have been hanging in the smokehouse ever since December. They were smoked and laid in a salt cure. It is crazy to think that raw meat would keep without spoiling when unrefrigerated, but this is the way meat has been cured for centuries. When warmer weather arrives, bugs can sometimes be a problem. The meat needs to be covered with Borax to discourage the bugs. We prefer to just take the hams out of the smokehouse once warmer weather arrives.

My dad did the big job. He cut off the outer skin and rind off the ham and took out the bone. At this point the hams could be placed in the freezer as raw meat, but I decided to precook the ham for convenience.

This ham was huge and just barely fit into my largest pot. I covered the ham with water and brought it to a boil. I then left it simmer on the stove for three hours. I used a meat thermometer to make sure it was fully cooked to the very center.

I removed the bones (which I had simmered along with the meat just for flavor) and placed the meat in the fridge overnight.

The next day, I used my mom's meat slicer to cut thin slices. These were bagged up and frozen. I love having pre-cooked and sliced ham in the summer. It will make a quick sandwich, pizza topping, or quiche.

Now we can finally say that Butchering 2010 is over. Except for enjoying the good meat still in the freezer.

I saved the ham broth and promised my husband I'd make him ham and bean soup. Personally, ham and bean soup is not my favorite. Anyone have a good recipe?


  1. Ok, this is the ultimate in homesteading skills in my book. Something I want to do in my lifetime. Do you have a good resource book or be willing to share with me in more detail how to do this? What does your smokehouse look like? Thanks for sharing this!!

  2. Mary -
    Okay here is where I profess complete ignorance. I've never helped cure the hams. I've never even been in the smokehouse. I don't even know where it is!

    Now my dad will be shaking his head in disbelief. But the men of the family always take care of that part of the operation and I never paid any attention. Maybe next year I'll have to beg Ed to take a camera along and record the process for the rest of us!

  3. Mary -
    Oh, and I'll ask but I don't think they consult any book. My family has learned butchering and curing from an old neighbor. It is his smokehouse that they use and his recipe for curing. I highly recommend finding an old timer to teach you hands on - but those are a rare commodity. I'm sure someone has written a book and made a youtube on it. I just don't know of any in particular to recommend.


  4. Not sure if this is the type of beans you were talking about, but we enjoy this soup.
    2 lb. meaty ham bone
    2 qt. water
    4 c. green beans
    3 c. cubed potatoes
    2 medium onions diced
    1 t. salt
    1/4 t. pepper
    Cook ham bone in water 1 1/2 hours. Remove ham cut into chunks (take out bone) and add rest of ingredients. Simmer 20 min. or until vegies are tender. Skim off excess fat, and serve.

  5. Rebecca -
    I was thinking of dried beans - but your recipe looks even tastier. I'm going to try this as soon as we have fresh green beans.

  6. wow, that is so cool. I'm sure it's much tastier than the common grocery store ham!

    here's my mom's bean soup recipe:

    It's cool enough today so that soup doesn't sound strange :)

  7. You may want to try pea and ham soup? I've never had bean and ham but this version is something I grew up on. It's tasty, I promise :)

    500g green split peas
    2 medium onions, finely chopped
    2 medium carrots, finely chopped
    2 sticks celery , finely chopped
    1 large garlic clove, crushed
    1kg meaty ham bone or ham hock
    1 bay leaf (fresh or dried)
    1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 litres (8 cups) water
    Salt, to taste

    Put all ingredients in pot excepting salt. Bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for approximately 2 hours. Skim froth during this time. Remove bone from pot, cut away all meat and discard bone. Return diced meat to pot and add salt. Cook a bit. Eat!

  8. The mother of a friend of my husband's gave me this recipe many years ago. No measurements. I make it whenever I have a ham bone. Cover ham bone with water. Bring to a boil,then lower to a simmer. Add dried beans, diced onion, celery, carrots, potatoes, ketchup. Season with salt, pepper, thyme and marjoram to taste. Cook all day.

  9. Here's how I make it:

    Soak beans over night, then next day

    In a little butter saute' plenty of onion, carrots and celery a bit of garlic won't hurt either then add your drained beans, your ham chunks and water/ham broth, bring to a boil stir well then reduce heat and let simmer till beans are good and done. It will take a couple of hours. I serve mine with plenty of hm bread and butter


  10. Hello Gina,
    I have been reading and fully enjoying all of your posts.
    I' ve been visiting for quite a while now it' s about time I introduce myself. I live way across "the pond" in the Netherlands (Europe).
    I am a mom to two boys - 21 and 18. The eldest is a very special need young man. Both of my boys live at home with us.
    I have lived in your great country for 5 years and still try and visit yearly.
    Thanks so much for all the inspiration,

  11. Here is our favorite ham and bean soup. It uses dried navy beans. It's very basic but the flavor is wonderful. Hope this helps. I love your blog!

  12. Gina - I love to make ham dumplings. Just boil the hambone for your broth. To the hot strained broth add pieces of ham that you have picked from the bone - then add your milk and proceed with your favorite dumpling recipe (kinda like Chicken dumplings). Beats Bean Soup to me. :-) Cindy

  13. Those slices of ham are seriously making me drool! WHY did you have to post pictures this time?!

  14. Help we cured a ham for the first time. it is way too salty. i hate for it to go to waste. Do u have any remedies for this problem?

    Salty in Missouri


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