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Pork hock


James Wales
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I have just picked up a couple of pork hocks from my local butchers. I'm looking to cure the hocks for 5-7 days. 

I am also doing some bacon at the same time. The cure I use is supracure and I usually use it at 3%. I know it says 5% but I have always found a bit salty and have researched and plenty of people use it even lower than 3%. I'm also using demerera sugar, bay, thyme, peppercorns and some mace.

My question is has anyone made there own ham hocks and if you have how long did you cure then for?? Did you use any other favourings on the hocks?? 

I'm going to cold smoke the bacon for 30 hrs over 3 days using oak and beech, leaving 12 hrs rest inbetween would u recommend doing this with the hocks as well.

Any help appreciated 

Cheers

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Hi James - How are you curing the hocks? Immersion brine or dry cure?

If you are using Supracure then I expect it is a dry cure. When calculating the amount of cure to use you need to take the weight of bone into account as the bone does not take up the cure to anywhere near the extend of the meat. To all intents and purposes you can exclude the weight of the bone from the calculation. The ham hock will be about 30%-50% bone weight (I cannot find an exact published ratio) and so you if you don't account for this you are going to end up with a much saltier product with a dry cure. If the skin is left on then you should also allow an additional 10% for that. You could overcome this by using an immersion brine of 3% salt which will mean that you will end up with a known salt concentration at equilibrium - although you will have increased the water content by ~10%

When dry curing, as far as curing time goes (within reason) it is not possible to over cure. Because of the thickness of the meat on the hock then 10 days would be sufficient - however if you left it for 14 days that would not be a problem.

You may not need 30 hours smoking but you will be able to adjust accordingly for your next batch.

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Hi wade

Will the increase in water if I use the wet equilibrium cure have any negative effects when cooking after smoking??

So in short

*reduce weight by approx 35% (bone)   *reduce by another 10% for the skin.      *leave for min 10 days.

Do u add any extra sugar to the wet cure?? Other favourings?

Cheers             

Edited by James Wales
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It will have an effect as at the end of the cure the meat will have taken up about 10% water. It will not be bad but it will be more like the commercially cured bacon than the artisan style bacon you get with a dry cure.

When immersion curing you need to calculate the contents of the brine based upon the total weight of the water and meat. That way once the brine has reached equilibrium with the meat it will all end up at the desired concentration. A simplistic example of the calculation below... They assume that you are using the Weschenfelder Supracure which is 0.6% Potassium Nitrate and 0.6% Sodium Nitrate in Sodium Chloride.

1 Kg (1,000 g) hock
Assuming 30% is bone and 10% is skin = 40% of total weight that is not meat. Therefore 60% is meat
Weight of meat for use in the calculation = 600 g

Volume of water in brine = 2 litres = 2 Kg = 2,000 g
Volume of water and meat for calculating brine = 2,600 g

Using a cure calculator based upon a total weight of 2,600 g to give the required salt (3%) / sugar (1.5%) / Nitrite 150 mg/Kg (Ppm)

Water 2,000 g
Supracure 65 g
Salt 13 g
Sugar 39 g

To be absolutely precise you should take the weight of the cure/salt/sugar into account in the overall calculation but it will not significantly affect the concentrations if you don't.

Any flavourings that you want can be added to the brine without needing to take their weight into account in the calculations.

You may want to consider moving to Cure #1 in future for your bacon as Supracure contains Nitrate as well as Nitrite. Nitrate has been shown to form Nitrosamines at high temperatures (e.g. when being fried) which has been linked to cancer in rats in some studies. Nitrate has been banned for use in bacon commercially in the USA although the EU position on its use is less clear due to the large number of "traditional" cured meat products that exist within the different countries.

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