Pauline's Ham in a Bag

About a year ago I replied to a comment on Pauline's Ham and said: "...I have done this cure with a lot less liquid by using a vacuum bag and just putting 100 - 200 ml of brine cure in with the meat (after injecting, of course)." It was my intention, at that time, to write further about this with an explanation and more detail.

Ham cured in a bag

Contrary to popular belief, the reason's not because I'm tight-fisted! There are also some technical reasons why it's a good idea. They're not related to injection-curing; it's the immersion part of the cure that's the potential cause for concern.

The recipe and further details are here » »

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There are 47 comments

Ian James

hi Phil, The bit about the piece of meat in the 5l of brine absorbing more actually makes sense. the 1 kg of meat has a fixed amount of water, so if you think of it , the 2l of brine will be more diluted when the solution reaches equilibrium. Its about the total amount of water. if you have 5l and 2 lts of identical brine, and add 1/2 l of water to both… the 51/2 litre will be the stronger solution.

Thanks for these posts especially the calculators, getting into home produced food after an industrial injury. It adds to the quality of my life and my meals.

Ian James, - 26-01-’13 12:48

Hi Ian

Yes, but it comes as a bit of a shock when you’re used to calculating it by the other method!

I’m pleased that you’ve found the calculators of use: please let me know how you get on with this cure.


Phil, - 26-01-’13 15:21


Firstly thanks for the information found in this blog, i have been going through different places to try and pick up information on this for some time but really appreciate the time you have put into this.

I have a very newbie type question / comment on this topic, i have been looking into trying to do a salt beef / pastrami and looking at the information from the FSIS i am still a bit confused about your brine solution containing 48grams of cure. I looked at the document and for the life of me i could not get the pickle/brine calculation to come close to the ~6gms nitrite that would have been in the cure.

The below calculation was for the immersion method number 2 and did not require pumping

I admit i am likely doing something incredibly stupid but would value your input if possible.
Thanks in advance


Darren, - 30-01-’13 19:33

Hi Darren,

I assume that you’re referring to the corned beef cure.

The cure that you refer to is an injection cure; it cannot be used solely as an immersion cure.

The calculation for injection cures is:

lb/gm nitrite × % pump × 1,000,000
divided by: lb/gm pickle
= ppm

(The formula works in gm just the same as in lb)


lb nitrite = 48 * 6% = 2.88
% pump = 10%

2.88 * 10% * 1000000 = 288000

Divided by the total amount of pickle (1908gm) = 288000 / 1908 = 150.94 Parts Per Million (PPM) Nitrite.

Put another way, we inject 100gm of pickle into every 1000gm of meat. That 100gm of pickle contains 2.52gm of cure #1. That 2.52gm of cure #1 contains 6% nitrite. 2.52 × 6% = 0.151gm. 0.151gm nitrite in 1000gm meat = 151gm nitrite in 1,000,000gm meat, or expressed another way: 151 parts per million.

I hope this helps.

I shall be producing a calculator in the near future for the corned beef along the lines of the one that this comment is attached to. This will reduce the amount of surplus brine cure.


Phil, (URL) - 30-01-’13 21:51
Ian James

Well Phil, did a 2011 gm piece, for 6 days.. which was split into two parts yesterday . first thing noticed was a quite obvious variation in colour deep in the joint. Put this down to the injection sites.. cooked one half in 80c water and then baked it… quite enjoyable, and had very decent sandwiches for supper. that said, on the small scale I do I think I’ll be sticking to dry cure for now. But like Darren above want to do a good salt beef, so will be trying immersion next.

Also found the injection method a bit messier, and a fair amount of what I was putting in came back out , which made getting it up to suggested weight harder than I expected. But all said and done, tried, it worked, had a decent meal from it.

Ian James, - 31-01-’13 09:42


Reading between the lines, it sounds that the ham was a disappointment, I’m sorry to hear that.

It will be a very different type of ham to what you are used to if you’ve always dry-cured yours.

I agree, the injection can be a pain at times; the level of difficulty seems to vary between different pieces of meat for some reason.

Given time, a dry cure or an immersion cure is a better quality option (in my opinion). A well made, and dried, immersion or dry cured piece of ham takes some beating.

As to the colour, that’s due to the amount of myoglobin in the meat. Different muscles have differing amounts of myoglobin depending on the amount of work they do. It’s this that determines the depth of colour. There will always be a variation between the different muscles in the leg; unless it varies wildly within an individual muscle, it’s unlikely to be due to the way you injected it.

Please note that the spicing on the corned beef is for a very mild product; that’s how we like it. However, you may wish to increase it if you like it with a bit more oomph!

It’s very much a salt/corned beef, as against a spiced beef. For a dry cured recipe for spiced beef, I can recommend this one:

Phil, (URL) - 31-01-’13 16:47
Ian James

Oops sorry, no definitely not a disappointment, but not as nice to personal taste as the dry cured version we did for Christmas… but certainly worlds apart from supermarket product, . No the downside for me was processing, I wonder if for small joints injection has any advantages in the home? Dry or brine… straightforward. Cannot not see an advantage… I think we both reach the same conclusion reading your post above.

But what’s surprised me most about home curing, I’ve yet to have what I’d call a failure or disaster…and its simple (provided there’s a calculator handy :-) )

Ian James, - 01-02-’13 07:59

I know what you mean about the processing, it can be a bit of a pain. Dry cures are great, but can be a bit temperamental with large, thick pieces of meat and immersion cures are somewhat difficult to calculate. A combination ‘injection/dry cure can be very effective. I need to update the corned beef cure – maybe I’ll have a go at converting it.

Best regards

Phil, - 02-02-’13 15:55

awesome new outlook for Pauline’s ham Phil ! now after the suger and salt have been reduced a lot , i will give it a try again .. because i have done more than 3 kinds of ham and i’m disappointed by the test each time because nothing went better than this one ! i will try to bring the leg during this week and let you know
P.S: Epic new photo makes the reader melt in this ham :)

Roger, - 10-02-’13 16:37

Hi Phil, I’ve used this recipe a few times with a piece of boneless leg of Pork and they have turned out fine. This weekend I picked up a 2.5kg boneless loin of Pork and decided to try this. However, seeing as its over 5lb in weight and there’s only two of us to eat it, I was thinking about taking off some rashers of bacon then cooking the remainder as a joint. I could have cut it in half and ‘dry’ cured the part for bacon, but preferred to do it as one. Will the ‘bacon’ be okay for grilling, or do you think it will exude water from the injected brine. Come to think of it, commercial bacon will probably have more water injected than this recipe recommends so am I answering my own question ?


Ste., - 25-06-’13 22:28

Hi Ste.

Sorry for the delay in replying.

You could always hang the meat to dry for a few days post-curing. But, I don’t think that there would be a problem anyway.

Please let me know how it works out.


Phil, - 03-07-’13 19:46

Hi Phil. Just a couple of questions about this cure method. First, I have a vac packer but struggle here in Greece obtaining large bags for it and believe me the bags are not cheap here, so how reliable would the cure be in a normal large food bag? would I need to adjust the amount of cure to be more sure of covering the meat?
The next question is, I generally boil my ham in a bag. I use the pure ham jelly in my pork pies. Are there any issues that you can think of, using the jelly from the ham with this method.
The whole thing looks great and I’m looking forward to trying. Still using your dry cure bacon method and absolutely love it. Cheers, Shortie

Shortie, (URL) - 20-12-’13 07:49


Sorry for the delay replying, I’ve also done this in a food grade bag wrapped tightly around the meat, with as much air as possible extracted and then tied. It worked fine. It should, of course, be kept refrigerated.

As to the ham stock from the cooking, I can see no problem using this. It sounds a superb idea.

Phil, - 22-12-’13 17:20

Hi Phil, getting ready to make Pauline’s ham. I note the amount of spices in the cure calculator seem to be very light. Ie 2 pepper corns for a 7000 gm. 1 juniper berry etc. Does this seem about right? Joe

Joe, - 17-01-’14 00:15

It isn’t a lot – I’m not keen on too much. That’s the amounts I used in one at Christmas that used 100gm brine. For the amount of brine you’ll need you could add a little more if you want. But, bear in mind, you’re injecting the brine so it needs less than you’d think.

Please let me know what you decide, and how it works out.

Phil, - 17-01-’14 17:06

Phil, just one last check in on this. I now notice that whatever the volume of brine inputted in the calculator, the same number of spices is displayed. I was expecting it to be somewhat proportional. I have a rather large ham in the 6kg range and wanted to double check. Joe. ps. I tried making your bread last weekend! Good fun and I must say it was pretty good too.

Joe, - 17-01-’14 22:58

I know, it seems ridiculous! But I’ve only ever used one or two of each. However, as I say, it’s only a guide.

I like a mild ham, rather than a spicy one. I tend to cure meat that’s 3 – 5 kg, and boneless; my concern’s always been about smaller pieces of meat being too spicy, rather than larger ones being too mild.

However, I know that this cure is widely used, and nobody’s mentioned any problem before.

Maybe double the spice, if you want?

(You may think that I’m avoiding the question, but for every person that tells me my bacon has too little salt, another tells me it has to much!) It’s likewise with spice.

For a wider view, from others that use this recipe, I’d encourage you to join, and ask the question, at the Forum.

Phil, - 18-01-’14 01:16

Hi Phil, just wanted to let you know how my ham turned out. It weighed in at 14 lbs and was in the cure for 13 days. I followed the calculator as described with two changes: I increased the brown sugar and the spice blend. I was very pleased with the product and my 14 guests were also well pleased. So excellent recipe and process. Thank you for sharing. Joe

Joe, - 03-02-’14 22:09

Thanks for the feedback Joe. It’s always good to hear how it’s turned out.


Phil, - 07-02-’14 19:04

Hi Phil,
You’re recipe looks great and I would like to try it! Our two pigs have been killed yesterday and we’ll be cutting them up today, so I’ll have plenty of meat to use! I would like to make two different kinds, one exactly like your recipe and on cider/apple gammon for Christmas and I was wondering if I can use this recipe and use apple juice instead of water and use the spices you have used in your cider gammon recipe?

Magaly, - 03-12-’14 07:42

Hi Magaly,

You can use cider/apple juice instead of the water and whatever spicing takes your fancy. The only thing I would say is to use whole spices (remove before injection). When I used powdered allspice I ended up with dark streaks in the meat.

I hope you enjoy the ham.

Phil, - 03-12-’14 15:59

hi i don’t have an injector can i soak the ham in brine mix for longer i.e 1kg = 10 day as in the cider ham….thanks

jon, - 06-12-’14 10:23

No, this recipe has been designed specifically for injection. There’s a recipe for an immersion cured cider ham here:

I hope you enjoy it.

Phil, - 06-12-’14 14:22

I have been making ham this way for the last nine months and have probably made around twenty small hams. I’ve been thrilled with the results.

Looking through the comments on your corned/salt beef recipe page, someone asks the question about Cure #1 and how it states on the packet not to use more than 2.5g per Kg of meat. You state that amount is for DRY curing not immersion.

Anyway I’ve been using your calculator to calculate the brine amount for all of my hams but have been following the directions on the cure packet for how much of the cure to use… basically I’ve probably been using only half the amount that your calculator would recommend I use.

Apart from the first couple of hams I made which were slightly undercured in the very centre, the rest have been perfect.

Any comments? Should I now start using your measurements for the cure to be safer?

I use free-range pork topside averaging around 1000g and cure for a minimum of 48 hours depending on the exact weight of the meat. I then poach the cured ham in a very slow pot of simmering water.
As your calculator starts at a minimum weight of 1500g I double the weight of my meat and then halve the calculations.

Gayna, - 18-01-’15 10:38

Hi Gayna

If you were injecting the meat but it wasn’t cured in the middle, then you were doing something very wrong! I’m glad that it’s not been a problem recently.

The reason the cure has more than 2.5gm of cuing salts per kg is because we only inject a proportion of the brine that we make. If we want 2.5gm of cure in the meat, we have to allow for the curing salt that won’t get absorbed/injected and that will remain in the brine that we dispose of at the end of curing; therefore we need to add more..

That’s why we use formulas to calculate the wet cures that allow for this. My cured meat calculators all produce products that comply with the levels set in both the UK and USA.

If you double the weight and then halve the amounts the injection part of the cure will be correct.

Phil, - 18-01-’15 10:46

So just to be clear, I am using the ‘Pauline’s Ham in a Bag injection method’ and using your calculator……..but I wasn’t using your calculations for the curing salts amount, I was (instead) following the instructions on the packet (I can’t remember why – probably just fearful of using too much). That meant that every time I have made a ham this way, I ended up only using half the curing salts that your calculator specified.

All but the first two were beautifully pink through to the centre and I put that down to just perfecting the method with each new one that I made.

I understand now that I should follow your calculations exactly because they are based on injection curing and not DRY curing.

The “doubling the weight then halving the amounts” comment was only to let you know how I get your calculator to work for my smaller ham sizes (all under 1500g).

Sorry for the confusion, I hope I’ve made myself understood.


Gayna, - 18-01-’15 10:49

The amount of cure needed to produce colour is as little as a third of the amount needed to protect the meat.

As little as 40 mg/kg of cure will add colour, but a minimum of 120mg/kg is recommended for safe curing, hence the reason that it ‘looked’ cured.

I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the ham.


Phil, - 18-01-’15 10:51

Just goes to show when you think you’ve done your due diligence and are doing everything right you can still be doing it all wrong!
The saving grace for me I think has been the small sizes and speed of which they are consumed.

Gayna , - 18-01-’15 22:57

Will the ham turn out poorly if I choose to bake it instead of cook it in water? Or instead of cooking it in water or a bag in water, would a pressure cooker be a good alternative? Thanks for your help in advance.

Wendy , - 25-01-’15 02:29

Hi Wendy,

You can cook the ham however you wish. I’ve not had much success with hams in Pressure cookers; they tend to over-cook easily and the individual muscle groups separate due to the very high temperature (as they do if boiled too fiercely rather than poached).
Baking’s a good way of cooking it. I hope you enjoy it.

Phil, - 26-01-’15 15:00
ricky nash

Hi Phil, just started my second Pauline’s Ham, first one turn out brill, I injected it with a garden pressure sprayer (small flower sprayer), a small dia. hose and a thin metal tube which I drilled a couple of hole’s in and it did a good job, I live here in the Philippines and my wife has a small piggery, (that where I get the pork for my bacon & Sausage) I saw her injecting the sow’s and piglet’s with a large syringe, so I went and bought one and it is perfect for Pauline’s type ham, so easy and no mess

ricky nash, - 20-02-’15 06:10

Wow, that sound ingenious and I’m so glad you enjoyed the ham. Are your wife’s pigs a local breed?

Phil, - 25-02-’15 18:33
ricky nash

Hi Phil, The pigs we breed are a type of large white, fast growers and not too much fat. as I’ve said before, I use your calculator for sausage and bacon it never fails, great site.

ricky nash, - 10-03-’15 05:22

Hi Ricky,

I like large whites. I used to get the fattier ones – the shops only want up to 12mm here – 18mm was my ideal so I got some good deals.

I’m glad that you find the calculators of use.

Phil, - 29-03-’15 15:07
Colin Robinson

Hi I have been using your calculator to cure hams for a year now. For injection I use a syringe. I cure the ham in a bag designed for storing clothes which has a suction valve on the side. Some hams I cooked by poaching which were OK, but the best results were obtained by BBQ spit roasting slowly rotating. Coat the ham in a mixture of peach jam and Chinese 5 spice during the last 20 mins of cooking. Absolutely fantastic. Thanks for providing the calculator.
The question that I have is that my pink curing salt has gone white over time. Is it still OK to use?

Colin Robinson, - 18-11-’15 08:31

That method of cooking the ham sounds superb Colin. I love the idea of peach jam and 5 spice – it’s mouthwatering!
But, I’d check that the bags you are using are suitable for food use. As to the cure #1, I’ve never heard of this happening. I know that there’s a (very remote) possibility that the nitrite in it can start converting to nitrate, but that wouldn’t explain the colour change. If it’s working OK, you could just carry on using it. However, given that it’s only a couple of £ to replace it, that’s what I’d do to be on the safe side.

Hope this helps

Phil, - 18-11-’15 22:04

I cured a 5kg leg for 15 days (noted after 7 days should of suffice) Its quite strong smelling, not nasty but a bit what I would call as spicy porky. I was wondering whether the pork was ok to start with as it was approx 5 days from being cut and was left in the bag. The curing went well and the pork isnt showing any bad spots its just the smell very similar to when pork is left in a defrosting freezer (opps done that one before). I just need to be assured its not gone over as dont want to kill anyone over christmas. Very anxious. Thanks C

floppybackend, - 26-11-’15 23:01

I’m sorry, but with the best will in the world, I can’t tell you whether the piece of meat that you started the meat with was OK.
What I can tell you is that the cure, being injected, would start work virtually immediately, so further degradation would be unlikely after this point. I’d be tempted to cook this one and try it, and put another one on for Christmas.

I hope this helps somewhat.

Phil, - 27-11-’15 20:00

Hi Phil,

How long do I have to wait before cooking Pauline’s ham after it comes out of the brine ie do I have to let it rest in the fridge for a couple of days. It came out of brine yesterday and I am eager to try it.


Liz, - 04-12-’15 08:58

Hi Liz,
I’ve rinsed and cooked them immediately when I’ve been pushed for time, but I generally keep them a week or so to let the meat dry a bit, before cooking.
I like a ham to be on the drier side; I’m aware that I may be in a minority though as modern commercial hams are quite moist.
I hope this helps.

Phil, - 04-12-’15 17:14

Hi Phil, Finished a 3kilo ham yesterday and poached the ham as you recommend until the internal temperature reached 72c.
then glazed the ham in the oven using my home made marmelade/brown sugar glaze, I have never tasted such a wonderful ham before,
many thanks for Paulines recipe.
My question is “How long can I keep the Ham in the Fridge” to be safe, I was thinking 4 days maximum, i was also going to take off slices and vac/pack into the freezer and store for maximum 3 months, what are your thoughts???

Allan.G, - 24-12-’15 05:41

Hi Allan, I have no qualms about keeping it 7 – 10 days, loosely wrapped in greaseproof paper, in the fridge. £ months in the freezer in vac-pacs will also be fine.

I’m really pleased that you found the recipe to your liking.

Have a great new year.

Phil, - 28-12-’15 16:37

Hi Phil, Many thanks for you reply, I was surprised and pleased to hear 7-10days in the fridge and Months in Vac Pac, I am now cracking on with 1800g piece of Loin for Bacon, Will let you know how this turns out.

Happy New Year To All

Allan, - 29-12-’15 13:10

I guess that ‘officially’ I should say 3 – 5 days maximum. But you may be interested in this video. Harrods are happy to keep them 6 weeks – in a fridge!

Phil, - 29-12-’15 16:05

Hi Phil, Thank you so much for your super handy calculator and profound explanation about the injection cure! I have made Pauline’s ham a few times with great results!
I have a question though regarding the maximum amount of days in the brine. From other sources (the SaltCuredPig on FB) I’ve learned about EQ curing and understood that there is no maximum that meat can stay in an EQ brine, since there is no risk of oversalting. Your formula seems an EQ formula to me, but you mention explicitly a maximum amount of days in the brine. Could you please tell me more about this? Should it make a difference, I put the ham and brine in a vacuum bag.
Many thanks in advance! Best regards, Dorien

Dorien, - 05-09-’16 23:38

Hi Dorien,

If this was used as an EQ brine for a lengthy period of time the amount of nitrite in the meat would exceed the amount allowed in the EU/UK and US regs. Hence the restricted amount of time in the brine.

Whether calculated as an injection brine, or as a brine pickle, the cure is below the required levels.

Hope this helps.

Phil, - 10-09-’16 19:29

Ok, clear. Thank you!

Dorien, - 20-11-’16 22:28

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

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