Cover brine, injections and cold phosphate--something wrong


  • Did my first whole muscle ham this week. Generally speaking if it doesn’t involve mixing meat I haven’t done it much. Started with a 15# bone in fresh ham. 10% pump which equated to 24 oz. of additional weight. My injection brine was 1/2 gallon distilled water, 1 lb country brown sugar cure, .4 oz (.025lb) california ham spice,–I used 1 ounce(light on purpose) of cold phosphate although calc shows 1.2 ounces cold phosphate should be right on for 15#. Cold phosphate was mixed in first. After injecting I weighed my left over injection brine and added an equal amount of water for a cover brine.
    Into the bag/bucket and fridge–ham fully submerged in cover brine—5 days. I took more time in the smoker than expected to reach temp (12 hours) but overall, looks fantastic.
    Now, the initial taste—oh so good, moisture right, saltiness right, sweetness right. 10 minutes later, a noticeable after taste.
    I have a couple thoughts—never had the california ham spice (maybe a taste that doesn’t set right for me), shouldn’t have used injection brine and cut it (meant cold phosphate was in cover), got the calculations wrong (seems like it was right), smoke flavor problem.
    Describing an aftertaste is impossible I guess, but if I do this again I will probably not use cold phospate–certainly not in cover brine.
    Suggestions, ideas, corrections from anyone would be welcome.


  • May have narrowed this done to one word…creosote. The challenges of smoking meat in frigid weather. Did some bacon on my next smoke and while not as bad I could identify that same taste when I test fried an end off the slab. One thing I have learned over the years about creosote—it is amplified when it appears on cured meat. I started looking at my setup and I think two things led to this–1, using cabelas pellets for my smoke source and two, the cold ambient temperature in almost dead calm weather caused my stack to not draw as well–so a pellet known for high ash and incomplete burn caused some creosote rather than nice smoke.
    I am still looking for advice and other ideas so feel free to jump in—would really like to master the ham making.
    EDITED TO ADD…I use a homebuilt electric smoker with a PID controller. Only use pellets for smoke source, not heat.

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