Is my ham going to be too salty to eat?
January 18, 2012 6:32 PM   Subscribe

I'm brining some pork for ham, but I'm beginning to have some doubts about how long I should be brining them. Should I let them sit for the full time, or should I take them out now, if it's not already too late?

I'm using the American glazed ham recipe from Charcuterie, except I don't have one single ham, I've got four cuts of ham in block form (Japanese butchering is... different). The cuts are about 900g to 1kg each, and I've got them in a brown sugar, salt, pink (curing) salt brine. The recipe says to cure the meat for 1/2 a day for each pound of meat. All together, I've got roughly 8 pounds, which would call for a 4 day brine.

What I'm worried about is that I've got, roughly, four 2 pound chunks of meat, not one 8 pound chunk. Should these only be brined for the total time as if I were brining one chunk at a time, or one day only? Or is it safe to keep going for the full four days? Will it be edible, or outrageously salty if I do?
posted by Ghidorah to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Best answer: One vote for outrageously salty. You're brining four 2lb chunks and not one 8lb chunk... I think you should follow the recipe for 2lbs and not 8lbs or, yes, it will be very salty I think. It's a question of penetrating the meat and it will soak in a lot faster on 4 smaller chunks than it would for 1 big one. Thus the recipe.
posted by empyrean at 6:41 PM on January 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I would take them out now because the recipe is based on such a large cut and the long brining time is geared toward penetrating a cut that size. It shouldn't be too late.
posted by shoesietart at 6:55 PM on January 18, 2012

I also vote for following the 2lb recipe. The brining process works on the surface area of the meat. You've got 4x2 lb shaped meat not 8 lb shaped meat so you should use that as your guide. The 4x2lb shaped meat has a whole lot more surface area than 1x8lb shaped piece of meat.
posted by mmascolino at 6:56 PM on January 18, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick answers. I'll be rushing home tonight to take them out of the brine.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:41 PM on January 18, 2012

Also depending on how salty one comes out, you can just soak them in unsalted water to remove some of the salt before cooking. Boiling a ham instead of roasting it also reduces the salty taste, and boiling it in a mix of cider and water is a nice way to cook it.
posted by koolkat at 1:48 AM on January 19, 2012

I did this exact same recipe the other day for a smaller chunk of pork, and following the logic above took my single 1.5kg cut out of the brine at 3 days. It actually didn't work out too well. The middle didn't appear to have significantly cured. Having subsequently looked up other ham brines, 1 day per pound is more usual. I would brine for the full four days, and then soak the ham in fresh water for 24 hours before cooking.
posted by roofus at 5:25 AM on January 19, 2012

Wait, are you people saying that you can make your own ham at home?! MIND = BLOWN
posted by Doleful Creature at 9:05 AM on January 19, 2012

Response by poster: Roofus, thanks for that, but sadly, they're already out of the brine. I did this one time before with half the amount (2 chunks instead of 4), for two days, and it was a little salty, but edible. I'll just have to see how it goes. Even better, I'm planning on smoking them later, and the forecast is for cold miserable rain all weekend.

And Doleful Creature, it's pretty easy, math aside. Bacon is even easier. I've got a black pepper/apple bacon and a smoked paprika/chili bacon curing in the fridge.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:40 PM on January 19, 2012

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