Wednesday, October 10, 2012

More Ham

In my somewhat-hurried research, I found basically two different ways to salt the ham.  One is to completely bury it in salt, and put weight on it.  This makes the pressure omni-directional, which is good for squeezing out the liquids, but it has some drawbacks: 1) you need to rig up some way to drain the liquid off, 2) working around the bone - to keep it from supporting the weight and keeping the meat from getting pressed - can be difficult, and 3) it takes a heck of a lot of salt.  The alternative method sounded much easier: coat the meat in salt and loosely wrap it in plastic, and press it under weight.  But the pressure then becomes kind of focused; it presses down from above instead of in from all sides.

So I went with a multiple stage solution.  First I coated it in salt, put it in a trash bag, and poked some drainage holes in the bag.  Then I set this in a roasting pan to catch the runoff, put about 12 pounds of weight on it, and put it in the fridge for 3-4 days, draining the pan occasionally.  Then I took it out of the fridge and put it in "the tomb" - the beer cellar under the garage, which stays at a pretty constant temperature of 60 F.  Here I had a bit more room, so I put a beer keg on top of it for more weight (~10 lb. keg + 5 gallons of beer = ~50 lbs.)  Lots of liquid poured off over the next week or so, and I resalted it a few times too.  During this phase I checked the humidity in the room, and its actually holding steady at about 60% - largely because of the pork juices sitting in the pan, I imagine.  Still, this makes me think leaving a pan of water in the room will be enough for the hanging stage, when Flagstaff's natural 25% humidity is really far too dry.

Yesterday was the first time I'd gone for 24 hours without really having any liquid to drain off, so this morning I transferred the ham, wide-end-down, to a food bucket with a layer of salt in the bottom.  Then I coated it with another thick layer of salt, before filling the rest of the bucket with a bag of rice in a plastic bag and a few cans, with salt packed all in around it.  The bag of rice and cans just being to take up room, so I didn't need so much salt.  This allowed me to fill salt almost all of the way up over the end of the ham bone, and then put my 50 lbs. of beer back on top for weight.

Notes from Nik and my other sources put this salting stage at anywhere from 2-4 weeks, and I figure overdoing it is better than underdoing it.  We'll see what I need to do for drainage and how much liquid continues to come out of it - I'm guessing that I'm going to have to end up drilling holes in the bottom of my food bucket.

1 comment:

anti ob said...

13.75 lbs = 6.25 kilos which, according to the source Nik sent me, means it should be on the salt for no less than 19 days and no more than 25. So somewhere between the 18th and the 24th.