Black Ham VI - The Recipe and Calculator

The final part the story of the Black Ham, the previous post is here:
Black Ham - Part V - Cooking and the Finished Ham

Black Ham

For anyone wanting to make a similar Black Ham, this is the recipe I used. I've adapted it to use Cure #2 rather than Saltpetre as this will be what most people have and is easier to weigh. Please bear in mind the comments I made about changes to the cure in my previous post (Link above):

Important This recipe must be used in a ratio of 2 parts meat to 1 part brine. The cure below is for meat weighing 2kg. For all other weights of meat please use the calculator below. The meat should be cured for 10 days per kilo or pro-rata. This cure is not recommended for meat above 3.5kg in weight, without adaption.

Black Ham

Beer (Porter or Stout) 601gm
Water 145gm
Salt 100 gm
Molasses (Muscodavo) sugar 45gm
Molasses 100gm
Cure #2 gm 9.4gm

Whole Spices
Black 6 Peppercorns
Coriander 6 Seeds
Juniper 4 Berries
Cloves 2 Cloves

All the ingredients with the exception of the cure are placed into a pan and brought to a rolling boil for 2 - 3 minutes. They are then allowed to cool. The cure is added and mixed well in to ensure that its fully dissolved. It's then ready for use.

...or you can use this cure calculator:

Important This cure is not recommended for meat above 3.5kg in weight, without adaption.

Black Ham Cure Calculator
Weight of Meat in grams gm
Beer (Porter or Stout) gm
Water gm
Sea Salt gm
Molasses gm
Molasses/Muscovado Sugar gm
Cure #2 gm
Total Amount gm
Spices - approximate amounts
Peppercorns corns
Coriander seeds seeds
Juniper berries berries
Whole cloves cloves
Cure the Meat for: Days

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There are 22 comments

The Wildman

Well done, this is a lot of hard work. I think I will try and make it easier by using a simple dry cure first, as possibly considered in Part 1 (I cure whole legs for around 5 days in a mix (with nitrite etc) and then 2 weeks with just dry salt) and then brine. What recipe adaption are you thinking for over 3.5kg as whole legs could be 6 or 7 kg.

The Wildman, (Email ) - 13-01-’11 12:36


I can see no reason why you couldn’t dry cure this and then marinade it in a brine (without cure) to get the flavour. As it uses nitrate, I would go for a minimum cure time of 10 days though. This will allow sufficient time for the nitrate to react with the bacteria in the meat and do its work.

I would try and keep the brine concentration above 10% (around 40º) to give protection to the meat during the marinade period.

For larger pieces of meat cured only in brine, I would re-calculate the brine to be able to cure for less time per kg. However, this gets into an area where curing is at a fast pace – so it’s easy to under or over cure.

Phil, (Email ) (URL) - 13-01-’11 16:55

Hi Phil. My name is chris I love your web page, you’re the best. And how you can find time for all of that. you must have 4 hands or more.Any way, I am Polish and have acces to only: Insta cure #1 and #2. But all polish recepies use Peclosol. Please tell me how I can convert Peklosolt to Instacure #1 and, or #2. Please help me.Please help! chris.

chris, (Email ) - 17-03-’11 22:30

Thank you.

There’s a calculator for Instacure and Peklosol here:

Don’t forget to add/reduce salt by the same amount as the difference in weight of the Instacure and Peklosol.

I hope this helps.


Phil, (Email ) - 18-03-’11 19:13

Hi Phil. I have been using Brines for wet cure for sometime. Like everyone else I have had to convert my recipes from Saltpetre to Prague powder based cures.
I can’t help noticing that you have used Instacure #2 in this conversion. You obviously know more about the subject than I. I have converted all my brines as advised by the manufacturers to instacure #1, do you think this is wrong? The product data given to me suggested that #2 was mainly for the dry cure of sausage type cures.
My grandfather was a butcher/baker in the 1950’s. He always encouraged me to use brines, but that was his way! With saltpetre brines it didn’t matter how much water was in the cure as long as you noted the ingredient content which we used to use a 2.5% ratio method. Is this the same with instacure as I have noticed quite specific quantities to ratio with water?

Shortie, (URL) - 25-01-’13 12:12

Cure #2 (instacure #2) is used in this recipe due to the long timescale – over 30 days. The nitrite provides short term protection, and the nitrate longer term.

Brine curing is very hard to calculate as it’s dependent on the ratio of meat to liquid. The levels of curing salt used in today’s cures are a fraction of what would have been used in the 1950’s.

The ‘quite specific quantities’ are because of this, along with the nature of the calculator, and the comparative small amounts of meat cured by people at home.

I hope this helps

Phil, - 26-01-’13 15:36
Chris Ritchie

I am interested in this recipe as well as the Cider Ham recipe. You do not recommend using a ham larger than 3.5 kg. What are the adaptations recommended for larger hams (7kg) ? And why? Do then need to be injected to prevent bone sour?


Chris Ritchie, - 10-10-’13 21:05

Hi Chris.Sorry for the delay in replying, I’m on bed-rest at present. It’s because of the time-scales that would be involved with larger pieces of meat. To cure larger joints/hams, I would reduce the time-scale and increase the brine strength. It would still need long hanging for the cure to equalise throughout the meat.

I do not cure enough pieces of meat of the size you have to be confident enough to put the recipe online. Any cure I could recommend would be somewhat experimental.


Phil, - 17-10-’13 14:13

Hi I am looking for a wet brine recipe using salt peter as this is all i have. I have a 10 kilo pork leg that i would like to brine and them smoke…any ideas?


Ronak, - 18-10-’13 03:55

Hi, I don’t have one of my own, but you’ll find a very good one here:

I hope this helps.

Phil, - 18-10-’13 23:23
Simon field

Brilliant, I just have a quick question on the smoking, do you hot smoke or cold smoke? What smoking time would you recommend for a full leg say 7 -8 KG

Simon field, - 12-01-’15 19:03

There’s no real tradition of hot smoking bacon or hams in the UK like there is in the US and our version of cold smoking uses very low levels of smoke. I would ‘trickle’ cold-smoke it using something like the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator (or other smoke producing device) for three 8 – 12 hour sessions with a day between each session.
See for details and a review of the smoker.

Hope this helps


Phil, - 13-01-’15 17:05

Hi Phil

Really appreciate reading about your curing adventures and this ham looks great.

Out of interest you say this is a dry style ham, so what do you think it is that causes this? In the photos for your ‘Pauline’s’ ham recipe the meat appears incredibly succulent and juicy, so again, what’s the specific reason?

I thought that perhaps it has something to do with the injecting part but your cider ham, which isn’t injected, also appears much moisture than this black ham.


TC, - 13-07-’15 11:51

Hi TC,
Much of what you’re seeing is due to the poor photograph above. The cider ham has a similar dryness to this one. Traditional hams that are matured (dried) for flavour are a drier product than the moist (some would say wet) injected hams.

Whilst ‘Pauline’s ham’ is fine, the immersion cured hams like this one and the cider ham are in a different class altogether, they’re superb.

Phil, - 16-07-’15 12:28

First time making ham. Had no idea what to expect or what the outcome might be but I did it anyways. Glad I did.

I followed the calculator, used a pork shoulder that weighed about 2lbs. Brined for about 14 or 15 days and then smoked for 4 hrs at 200-250. Finished off in the oven until it hit 160 at the center.

Turned out pretty damn good. I’ll use a darker beer next time as an IPA was all I had at the time of conception. And also I think I’ll up the sugar amount as I just like my ham a bit sweeter.

Anyways thank you for having this site up. I use the bacon calculator often and I have become a very popular in my social circles.

- Justin

Justin, - 09-09-’16 00:57

Hi Justin

Many thanks for the feedback. It’s always good to know that the cures are being used. I think that you’ll like it made with a darker beer, but an IPA must have given a nice hoppy flavour.

Phil, - 10-09-’16 18:16


Thanks for the recipient! One question could you substitute cure #2 for cure #1 using the calculator?

John, - 06-08-’19 12:19
Phil Young

You could, but for the time-scale of this cure I would use cure #2, or cure #1 plus 150 mg/kg saltpetre.

Phil Young, - 06-08-’19 15:49

Hi Phil, I’ve gave this black ham try, it was a 1.5kg joint and I brined it for 16 days, it’s now been hanging for another 2, my concern is after reading some other sites they say to never use cure #2 in a brine, I understand #2 is for longer cures but when would mine be ok to cook, many thanks again

Adam, - 23-10-’19 22:45
Phil Young

The timescale of this ham is such that the use of nitrate is appropriate. Furthermore, it will never be subject to the high temperatures that may cause issues. It should be noted that nitrate is used in commercial ham products in the UK and that the ingoing amount in this recipe complies fully with EU/UK laws for commercial curing.
However, you can omit the nitrate if you wish, but it will not have the same longevity

Phil Young, - 28-10-’19 14:05

That’s great thanks again for your help, out of curiosity how long would this ham keep then before it’s cooked and after

Adam, - 29-10-’19 17:53
Phil Young

Hi Adam,
The length of time this ham will keep is dependant on so many things that it’s hard to give a definite answer. After cooking, it may keep for up to a month in the ideal conditions, but I’d go with 14 days to be on the safe side.
Before cooking it could be kept far longer – in the same way that an air-dried ham can. However, I’ve not done it, so am only guessing.

Phil Young, - 21-01-’20 12:25

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the forum.

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