Easter Ham 2012: Brine Injection

Injecting brine into a hamI like roasting large joints of meat.  The largest that I typically cook is the Easter ham, which is the better part of a pig’s hind leg.  This year’s fresh leg was fourteen and a half pounds.

In years past I’ve had problems with brine penetration.  Though I made the brine with the proper concentration of curing salt, and fully submerged the leg for the recommended week, when I carved the ham I found a patch of grey pork in the centre.  The year after that I brined the ham for a few extra days, but it still wasn’t pink all the way through.

This year I bought a syringe for injecting brine from  Hendrik’s.  It holds 2 fl. oz, and the needle has perforations all along its length so that brine is distributed to several places at once.  I can’t remember how much it cost, but it’s kind of a piece of junk.  The gasket on the piston doesn’t form a proper seal with the inside of the syringe, so it has trouble sucking up brine.  It still works; it’s just finicky.

Most sources recommend injecting 1 cup of brine for every 5 lbs of meat.  This amount would significantly accelerate the curing process.  Since I was still going to brine my ham for more than a week, I halved the recommended amount, injecting 4 fl. oz. per 5 lbs of meat into the very centre of the ham and near the bone.

After close inspection of the cooked, carved meat, the brine injection was deemed a success.  Complete, even penetration, making for a rosy, salty ham.

The ham, smoking on the barbecue

One of the ham rounds, pink throughout:

Cross section of the final ham: full brine penetration