Wiltshire Curing

Back to a (slightly historical) pork processing post.

After sausages, parma ham and brawn we wanted to try some wet-cured hams. Wiltshire Cure was the obvious choice. Of course we went to Hugh Fearnley-Whittstall’s River Cottage Cookbook for advice. This is a really excellent book along with his Meat book for processing a pork harvest it will give you lots of vital information about the cuts you will want to get and what to do with them afterwards.




1 half leg of pork (ours was boned)

1.5kg Salt

3 Litres beer (bitter)

1kg black treacle or molasses

20 Juniper Berries

30g Black Peppercorns

Put all the ingredients except the pork into a large pan.  Bring to the boil and then leave to cool.

Transfer to a non-metallic tub and chill then add the pork leg which had also been chilled.

I also added a couple of ham hocks to the brine since we were only using about a 1/4 of the leg.

Then you weigh the meat down (I used a small plate and a couple of heavy jars)  ensuring that all the meat was fully submerged.  Then there was a slightly complicated process.  The brine is supposed to be kept chilled (about 3-4 degrees C), but the brining pot wouldn’t fit in the fridge (not with all the other meat we were processing).

The brining pot before adding weights

Not bread!

This led to an amusing scenario where we would put the pot in the freezer at intervals for an hour or so to bring the temperature down (you can see the frost on the pot rim above) and then we would wrap it in freezer packs and woolcool to try and retain the cold for as long as possible.

We brined the meat for 4 days after which I put it in the freezer.  I know the point of a cure is that  you don’t have to freeze it but the second part of the process involved smoking it which we can’t do right now.  We at least got the taste of the cure when we ate the meat and it was delicious!

Wiltshire Cured Ham Hock Perfection!

Wiltshire Cured Ham Hock Perfection!

A quick note on my brining pot.  This was one of the treasures left behind by the previous owners when we bought the house.  I was very excited to find it.  It is big, heavy and earthenware and I am certain it will have lots of uses to a small holder.  None of which will involve bread!

I would definitely do this again despite the hassle but next time I’m going to try and find a local smokehouse who will let me hang it in there for 7 days as well.



9 thoughts on “Wiltshire Curing

  1. rupertbu

    Surprised you used freezer to store, as surely curing meat was the equivalent of preserving in those long past days, when many kept pigs. Hanging in open-air is more than adequate 🙂

    1. Becky A Post author

      The instructions said that you could hang but after 7 days smoking and currently we don’t have a smokehouse. I’m looking around locally to see if there is someone willing to give us a bit of space in their occasionally but without taking that extra step I wasn’t confident enough to keep the ham out.

      I air dried the parma ham but the process was very different.

  2. The Zero-Waste Chef

    OMG. That looks and sounds awesome. I’m so impressed with you and your pigs. How much does half a leg of boned pork weigh? Curing it sounds tricky, but I imagine you have a ton of pork now.

  3. Becky A Post author

    Thank you!

    For us animal welfare in the food chain is a huge issue. We had always wanted to try raising our own meat and I was absolutely prepared to go vegetarian if I found it too traumatic at the end. But instead I had a real sense of responsibility and once I’d discharged that responsibility but doing everything possible to give them a good life and a good death then I was very happy to eat the meat.

    I can’t remember how much it weighed before the brining process but I think it was more like a 1/4 of a leg and was 2kg. So a half would have been 4kg I think. I used the other 1/4 on Parma Ham which we will be opening for the first time this weekend!

    We got the pigs back from the butcher’s about 4 months ago and there is some left we have already eaten a lot of it. Mostly because every time we had guests to visit we would do a joint of meat or sausages. The sausages in particular went really fast!

    But it was lovely to share the meals with other people like that.

    I really want to see if we can get space in a local smokehouse next!

  4. Sue

    With regards to the smokehouse maybe add building a little one at home to your list of things to do? It is on our rather long list but as we dont have the pressing need for it just yet there are a few things ahead of it.
    Check out this video. This guy is pretty amazing with some of the stuff he is doing and his blog is worth having a look at especially for his beautiful photography http://www.wholelarderlove.com

    1. Becky A Post author

      I’ll check it out!

      We have talked about making a smokehouse but I’m not sure how feasible it is. We do live on the edge of a town surrounded by houses and I don’t want any “helpful” neighbours calling the fire brigade! I think if we had more things we wanted to smoke and a bigger operation then it would be more of a priority.

  5. Pingback: Cured Beef With Mustard Dressing / Gravet Kjøtt Med Sennepsdressing | RecipeReminiscing

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