Brine Curing Meat at Home

Brine Curing at Home

Brine Curing Ham at Home

Recipe by Jan Zanoni

Prague Hams

Old Prague hams (Prazska Sunka and Sunka od Kosti) are internationally known for their succulent flavor and high quality. Production first began in the mid 19th century, exported throughout Europe between the first and second World Wars. Becoming difficult to buy during communist days, Prazska Sunka, a brine cured, fully cooked, smoked, boneless ham, and Sunka od Kosti, a ham with the bone, have now made a big comeback. Prague Ham, is a well-known synonym for wonderful taste and quality product.

If you are not lucky enough to be able to buy authentic Prague hams, it is possible to produce your own quality brine cured hams at home. The basic ingredients for brine curing are salt, sugar and sodium nitrite. The process may be used with almost any meat cut e.g. beef, pork, turkey or lamb. Most meats cured with these ingredients have similar color and flavor.

Follow these instructions to brine cure meat at home:

Materials and Equipment:

A large container ( plastic, glass, ceramic or stainless steel) big enough to completely submerge meat.



Sodium Nitrite

10 to 12 pound cut of boneless pork ham or shoulder


  • 1 1/2 cups (440 grams) salt
  • 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
  • 0.3 oz. (8 grams) sodium nitrate (accurate weight very important)


Add and mix the following ingredients to one gallon (5 litres) of clean cold water.

Submerge the meat in curing brine and place a weight on top to prevent floating. Place in refrigerator at temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degree Celsius) for 5 days.

At the end of the curing period, wash the ham in lukewarm water and let soak for 30 minutes to remove excess salt from the outside surface.

After washing, place the ham in an oven at 300 degree Fahrenheit (150 degree Celsius) and roast until the internal temperature is 160 degree Fahrenheit (70 degree Celsius); about 2 hours.

Finally, hang the cooked ham in a cold smoker for 6 hours.

Cooked ham can be stored for a week in the refrigerator or can be frozen and stored for 2 or 3 months in the freezer.

  • Smaller meat cuts can also be cured in this manner. For bacon and ham hocks 3 to 4 days is sufficient.
  • Pickling spices can be added to brine for extra flavor.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 6 days

Yield: 10 to 12 pounds ( 5 to 6 kilos )

Calories per serving: 60

Fat per serving: 20


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