How to Brine a Fresh Ham

Putting meat into a brine produces a flavorful, moist dinner. This is a basic recipe/method for brining a fresh ham.

Ingredients

  • Fresh ham (not stuff already cured)
  • 2 gallons (7.6 L) of ice cold water
  • 2 cups of coarse kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon whole black pepper corns
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cloves
  • 5 whole bay leaves
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large onion cut into large slices

Steps

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    Purchase a fresh ham roast. Fresh ham is not the cured, smoked product we associate with ham. It is a cut of pork. Choose one that is 10-12 pounds total weight. Ham needs to be thawed and not frozen when you place it in the brine.You also need a food grade container large enough to place your ham and brine in and have the meat completely covered by the brine.
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    Take 6 cups of the water and put into a large kettle on your stove. Add in all of the other ingredients, except the remaining water. Bring to a boil.
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    Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Boil about 2 minutes.
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    Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
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    Place your fresh ham roast into the container you have chosen.
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    Pour the cooled brine recipe over the ham.
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    Add the rest of the water and stir it around to combine. The ham needs to be completely covered by liquid.
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    Keep at 38–40 °F (3–4 °C). If you do not have a cold garage or room in your refrigerator, reduce the water you add by 6 cups. Add 1 pound of ice instead.
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    Keep meat in brine no less than 48 hours. You can brine up to 4 days if you keep the temperature down.
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    Remove from brine. Pat dry and let meat come close to room temperature.
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    Roast in the oven until done, about 21 minutes per pound of meat.
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    Remove from oven and let rest on counter for 5-10 minutes before carving.

Tips

  • A cooler makes a great container to brine your ham in.
  • You can add more spices if you want. A cinnamon stick, 1 TB of whole mustard seed, 1/2 cup of honey. Use your imagination. Like it spicy? Add in some red pepper flakes.

Warnings

  • You can substitute the coarse ground kosher salt with table or pickling salt if you prefer. However, you must reduce the amount to just over 1 cup of salt. If you use 2 cups of finely ground salt, it will be far too salty!
  • Be sure this does not get too warm during the brining process. Although the salt in this brine kills a lot of bacteria, food kept above 40 °F (4 °C) can cause food born illnesses. If you must rely on ice to keep it cold , prepare more brine according to recipe and add in 4 cups when you add the ice to keep the salt ratio correct.
  • Do not add salt to the meat before cooking it. It will be salty enough from the brining.

Article Info

Categories: Food Preparation