Wet Curing Ham

Ever wanted to home-cure your fresh ham but it sounds too hard to do?

As you must know, there are two kinds of ham. Unfortunately, you cannot reproduce dry-cured hams.

However, you’ll be shocked to hear that wet curing your ham at home takes just a few minutes of work and just about a week of waiting until you are left with a ham you preserved all by yourself. 

What is Wet Cured Ham? 

Wet-cured ham is the most popular cured ham that most people are familiar with and eat. This ham is cured using a mixture of salt and water called brine. Other ingredients can be added to the brine, including sugar, liquid smoke, nitrites, and other flavorings.

If you are buying wet-cured ham from the grocery store, read your ham’s label for safe cooking and handling instructions. This is because some are sold uncooked while some are precooked and ready to eat.

What is Dry Cured Ham? 

As the name implies, dry-cured ham is cured without the use of any water. The meat is preserved by burying it in salt or rubbing it with salt and other spices such as black pepper, sugar, etc.

Then the ham is hung up to dry for a long period– months. This dehydrates the meat, making it even more “dry” if you will. Then it can be smoked to intensify the flavor. This means, unlike wet-cured ham, you cannot replicate this ham at home. 

Dry-cured ham is usually served uncooked. One popular example of dry-cured ham is Prosciutto di Parma.

How Long Does It Take To Wet Cure Ham 

It is important to note that brining takes several days, and this is essential to the process of making a good cured ham.

Brining and making a wet-cured ham is not instant — it’s a process.

As for the curing process, your ham will cure at a rate of 2 pounds per day which means a large ham will take about a week. 

 In a nutshell, good things come to those who wait.

Preparing Ham For Wet Curing

To prep your ham for ensure it is defrosted then remove all the skin and all the fat caps.

You may use the skin to make crackling later on if you wish. The myth that skin and fat add flavor to ham has been debunked several times.

The fat on a ham only slows the penetration of the cure and will cause the ham to get gelatinous after curing. 

Ingredients for Wet Brine Recipe

You will need the following ingredients to prepare your brine:

  • 2 liters of water
  • ¾ cup of kosher salt
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of pink-curing salt

After getting these ingredients together, will need to stir them together until dissolved. This brine can be multiplied as needed, and if you are doing a whole ham, you will probably need to double it.

Wet Curing The Ham 

Firstly, place your uncured ham in a bowl or vessel that is large enough to hold the meat completely submerged in the brine, but still small enough to fit in your fridge.

Add the cold brine to the pork, and lay a heavy plate on top of the floating meat so that it remains submerged.

Next, keep it in the fridge until the curing process is done. This time should depend on the size of your roast, but 1 day for every 2 pounds of pork is a good guideline. 

Make sure to turn the ham over halfway during the brining process so all parts of it will be submerged. 

What To Do After The Curing Process 

After the brining process is complete, discard the brining liquid. Next, cover the roast with fresh, cold water to rinse off any excess salt. 

If you like your ham saltier, you can allow it to soak for a few minutes. If you like it less salty, then it is recommended to let it soak overnight. 

After rinsing, blot the ham dry or let it dry on a drying rack. The dried the skin of your ham is, the more the smoke flavor will adhere when the ham is smoked. 

Smoking The Ham 

The last step to making a delicious, finger-licking wet-cured ham is smoking it. 

Set your smoker to 225°F and place your ham in the smoker until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 150°F. You can wrap your ham in foil however I think it gets a better flavor if you don’t

What If You Don’t Have A Smoker? 

Do not worry if you do not own a smoker. An oven will give you a delicious finished product that will taste the same.

Make sure to add 1 cup of water and 2 whole star anise to the roasting pan before placing the roast on the rack of the roasting pan. 

Preheat your oven to 325°F. Roast in the preheated oven until your ham reaches an internal temperature of 130 to 135°F. 

Increase oven temperature to 425°F. Continue to roast the ham until the skin browns and is crispy. Take the ham out once the internal temperature reaches 150°F. 

Serving Wet Cured Ham 

After smoking, slice and serve immediately. Otherwise, you can refrigerate the ham until it is ready to be used.

Leftovers can be stored in the refrigerator for a week or so. If you freeze or vacuum seal them, they can be kept longer. 

How Long Does Wet Cure Ham Last 

Wet-cured ham can be safe from anywhere between 3 days to 3 months depending on what type the ham it is. 

However, it is important to your health that you know what kind of cured ham you are dealing with and follows the food safety instructions from the FDA. 

Bottom Line 

Curing your ham is extremely easy, especially when you make sure to follow the guidelines mentioned above! 

Not only does it tastes better than commercial hams, which tend to contain lengthy and questionable ingredient lists, but curing fresh ham when it is on sale, can be an economical option.

Lastly, a wet-cured ham that you made yourself is sure to impress your friends and family at your next family feast! 

Smoke On!


Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I have been meat-smoking and grilling for the past 15 years. I have an array of different smokers, thermometers, and have a love for finding the right wood and charcoal combo My favourite recipes are my EXTRA CRISPY smoked pork belly, juicy pulled pork, smoked brisket, duck poppers, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill).

I loves sharing his tips with beginners, helping them navigate the world of smoking. I find it’s not just about cooking; it’s a quest for that perfect smoky flavor.

You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling recipes with you!

You can read more about me on our About Us page.

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