Excellent cider recently acquired at Belmont Station in Portland, OR. Snowdrift labels themselves a “nano-cidery” having produced 1800 cases last year. Located in the Wenatchee valley in Washington the sunny hot summers and cold winters make an ideal climate for the orchard which grows English, French, and old American apples. An English style cider with nice tannins and a complex taste of apples, melon, and dried fruit. Slightly effervescent. Great with aged cheese.
So Christmas looms ever closer. We thought we would have another go at cider-curing a ham. This time, despite the fact that the first time we did it, it tasted great with the glaze, we have just decided to boil it and then serve. It was so good last time, that it really didn’t need any more tweaking, and Christmas is a busy enough time without adding to the workload.
We purchased a ham from Pete’s Fine Meats. I say ham, it’s really more of a HAM!, 25 lbs of piggy goodness. Given that the brining should take about 3 days for every 2 lbs of meat, we are once again in danger of the brining going long, and the ham not being ready in time for Christmas. Doh! We are going for it anyway, I’m sure it will work, he said somewhat nervously.
4 lbs salt
4 qts apple juice (not from concentrate)
4 cups strong cider (we used Crispin. I wouldn’t recommend one of the sweeter brands such as Strongbow – go for an organic cider if you can get it – or better yet, some scrumpy!
2 qts water
2 lbs demerara suger
2 lbs dark brown sugar, or dark molasses
20 – 30 Juniper berries
1/4 cup black peppercorns, crushed
10 bay leaves, crushed
10 whole cloves
Add all the ingredients for the brine in a large pot (or two as we had to) and bring to the boil. Allow to cool – for us this happened over night. Then submerge the ham in the brine, weigh it down – we used an empty food container which pushes the ham down when the lid of the brining container is closed.Don’t use anything made of metal!
Our ham is now sitting in the fridge, taking up a huge amount of space, while the brine does it’s work. I’ll post a follow up when the brining is finished, just before Christmas (we hope)!