Different stages and timings for ham
Ham takes a while to make – but it isn’t hard. You just need some time on your side. I bought a 2kg ham and it took a week to cure and soak it before I could cook it. Then it took a few hours to prepare before I had my glazed finished product. It cost me $19.99 per kilo for the pork.
For a 3kg ham, add 3 more days. And so on.
There are a few different stages to making a ham. They are as follows:
Make brine > Cure Pork in Brine > Store ham (optional) > Soaking the ham > Boil ham (you can stop here and eat it…or you can continue) > Glaze ham (optional) > Bake ham (optional)
- Pork – I got a 2kg piece of free-range otway pork leg that was cut and tied for me by my butcher
- Salt – 600g per kilo of ham
- 2 litres of water per kilo of ham
- Spices (optional but worth it), including:
- 6 or so crushed juniper berries
- 6 or so cloves
- 6 or so peppercorns
- 1 or 2 chillies
- A few crushed bay leaves
Note: In the old days, Saltpeter would be added to ham as a preservative. It gives ham its pink colour. I have omitted this from the recipe as I don’t personally need the colour to be convinced I am eating ham and want to avoid unnecessary preservatives!
To make the brine
- Measure enough salt, water and spices for your size of pork (ie if you have a 3kg pork, then triple the amounts above).
- Add the salt, water and spices into a large enough pot. Do NOT add the pork yet!
- Boil the brine to dissolve the salt
- Allow the brine to cool completely
To cure the pork
- Place the ham in the cooled brine. Ensure it is completely submerged. To do this, weigh it down with something. I put a bucket with ice in it on top of the pork to keep it under the water.
- Cure the ham for 3-4 days per kilo in the brine (so I cured mine for 6 days for 2 kilos).
- Keep the brine cool – it doesn’t have to be refrigerated as salt is a natural preservative, but add some icepacks to the brine to keep it cool. I sat mine in the laundry tub with some ice, and on a daily basis slipped an icepack in from the freezer
Storing the ham
This step is completely optional. In the olden days, when people didn’t have refrigerators or deep freezers, they hung the ham in a cool, dry placed until needed (such as the Coolgardie safe). If you have a southern-facing verandah you can hang your ham in the breeze. Beware the possums. Apparently you can store it in hessian and put chicken wire around it. Equally, you can store it in the fridge. The salt preserves the meat from tainting.
Soaking the ham
This step is necessary. As the meat has been preserved in the brine, you need to soak it to remove some of the salt before intended use.
- Place the ham in a bucket (it will now naturally sink) for 24 hours.
Boiling the ham
- Place the ham in a pot and cover it with water (you don’t need to worry how much water any more)
- Bring the ham to the boil (this removes some more of the salt)
- Discard this water
- Add more water to the ham
- You can also add cider or more bays leaves here for flavour
- Simmer the ham for 40 mins per kilo
Glaze the ham
Create enough glaze to brush on your piece of ham.
We created a glaze of:
- Dijon mustard
- Cloves (enough for the scored fat)
- Untie the ham (if it has been tied)
- Remove the skin (but not the fat). This was the hardest part.
- Cut lines into the fat (but don’t go into the meat) to make a diamond shape pattern on the ham
- Brush the glaze onto the ham
- Push a clove into the centre of every diamond
Roast the ham
- Roast the ham for 30-45 mins per kilogram as a guide
- As we used a wood fired oven for this, you can never really tell what the temperature is other than extremely hot
- As the ham is actually cooked, you are only really glazing/warming the ham, so don’t worry about it being raw, be more concerned about it being juicy
Note: I cut my ham in half and only glazed/baked 1kg of it. I was so scared it wouldn’t work…So now I have another ham to look forward to!