One benefit of lockdown, has been the extra time available to try different things…..at B&B HQ, I thought I would have a go at curing a joint of our home reared rare breed pork in Bignose & Beardy Cider…. it turned out pretty darned good!
So I followed a recipe from a great little book - ‘River Cottage Handbook No13 – Curing & Smoking’. This is a fabulous guide to all sorts of ways to home cure and smoke, written in a way that makes it easy to follow and understand.
The ingredients for curing include salt, demerara sugar, black treacle, dark brown sugar – for seasoning – bay leaves, juniper berries, black peppercorns and all boiled up in our top quality Cockhaisy Dry Bignose & Beardy Cider and some home pressed apple juice. If you want to know the exact quantities you will have to buy the book!
First stage involved boiling and dissolving all the ingredients in a large pan – then allowing to cool – this is now the ‘brine’. Once cold, the pork joint was popped in the pan, submerged and left to cure for a few days – the timescale will vary depending on what you are going to do with the ham – whether you are going to cook it straight away or long-term store?
With the brining stage complete, we now move onto the air drying. Outside in the cool late autumn / early winter / early spring is best – temperature needs to be cool enough that there are no flies around, but not too cold that it freezes. I have a large overhang to my shed roof, so the joint can hang in the dry and, importantly, in the shade from the sun.
As the meat is cured by this point, providing you cured for long enough, it can hang here for the winter months.
When you are ready to eat, it is time for the final stage of cooking the ham. The cured joint is dropped back into the large pan and boiled for a few hours depending on size.
I used quite a small joint at around 2kg, as this was the first time I had tried making ham – the problem being, it was so good it got eaten too quick! – next time I will up the size and make a few at once.
I’ve kept this overview pretty brief – but it was easy to do and anyone could do at home providing you have somewhere to hang to dry – for full details, order yourself a copy of the book and give it a go.
- Bignose Phil