Homemade ham: no artificial coloring, no preservatives

casaveneracion.com For New Year's Eve: homemade ham

Most people make one bucket list. Sam does it differently. She has a bucket list for every year. Smart. I decided to follow her example. And, for 2012, two items on my bucket list were to make (1) homemade corned beef and (2) homemade ham. I managed the ham; the corned beef has been carried over to the 2013 list. It will have to wait for a few days until there is enough space in the fridge for the beef while it soaks in the brining solution.

What’s the idea? Ham inundates the world around Christmas time. Why not just buy? Two reasons. First, really good ham costs an arm and leg. The less expensive ones (which aren’t even all that good and most are so sweet I can serve them for dessert), I wouldn’t waste money on. You know how those sales girls in groceries go around with trays offering shoppers samples of the ham they’re selling? I have, on more than one occasion, after sampling their offering, made some rather nasty — but very honest — comments about what I thought of their hams.

Second, well, it’s more complicated. For as long as I’ve been blogging, the “about” page for the food section has not changed much. That’s almost ten years of practically the same text on that page. And part of that text is where I mention that my grandparents used to own and operate a grocery in Manila and they specialized in cold, cured meat.

So, I thought about repeating history. Kind of. Not necessarily to sell cured meat but, at the very least, learn how to cure meat. So, for New Year’s Eve, we had homemade ham. And it seriously tastes like Chinese ham.

casaveneracion.com homemade-ham2

My brining solution will need a little tweaking — a bit less salt and a bit more sugar — but, other than those few minor adjustments, I can safely say that we won’t be buying any more commercial ham from now on. Homemade ham has no artificial coloring and no preservatives. In short, no pink curing salt (Prague salt) and no saltpeter (salitre).

casaveneracion.com For New Year's Eve: homemade ham

I’d rather not write a recipe with an ingredient list and “how to” portion at this point. I’ll reserve that for when I’ve perfected my formula. But, for those who want to experiment on their own, there are three steps in making ham:

(1) Brining the meat. That means totally submerging the slab of meat in a mixture of salt, water and sugar for at least five days in the fridge.

(2) Seasoning the meat. After draining the meat from the brine, it is soaked in a mixture of pineapple juice, sugar, herbs and spices for another two days.

(3) Slow-cooking the meat in the pineapple solution. This step, I did in the oven to minimize moisture loss.

A fourth optional step is to drain the cooked ham, then boiling the pineapple mixture until syrupy. The syrup is brushed liberally on the cooked ham and the meat is baked over very high heat until browned.

Making corned beef is basically the same except that it’s beef instead of pork and there is no fourth optional step. That’s my next project.


  1. Ann says

    Love this post! I’m going to wait for the ham how-to post to follow it step by step so I can make my own ham as well. Thanks so much!

  2. Johnson says

    Like this post ! Like to experiment. What part of the pig would you recommend ? What are the herbs and spices ? Thank you for sharing your recipe.

  3. Anna says

    Hi Ms. Connie!…am afraid to do it myself as i am prone to cooking disasters.. Just want to congratulate you for another milestone in your cooking expertise. Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!

  4. johnson says

    Hi Ms, Connie, thank you for sharing what part of the pork to be used. Can you also share what are the herbs and spices that go with the pineapple juice and sugar in the second step. Thank you in advance.

  5. tremmy says

    Me too. Super wait ko yan. But, i like most thebrining of corned beef. I heard it’s not simple. I dunno.my office mate like the way i cook when i bring food. ( kasi libre waaah)

  6. wilson says

    wow, your meat retained or attained the pink color without prague salt or salitre. mine usually turn into whitish to gray color

  7. beth says

    Ms Connie, i can’t wait till you post the recipe, i’ve always dreamed about making my own ham, ala Excelente..i’m sure it will be very good!! hopefully by Christmas, i will be able to surprise my family with my own version of “Connie Ham”…please don’t ever stop sharing your wonderful recipes…

    • miles says

      Hello Ms.Connie! Many thanks for sharing your time and talent. I have been your follower since 2006 and to tell you, you’ve made me a pro in the kitchen that I keep on telling friends about your site. And truly they also super like your site. We are soo excited about your homemade Ham recipe… can’t wait.

  8. Frangelica says

    Still waiting for ingredients list, measurements and preparation method. It’s been over a year. Have you forgotten about it? It’d be nice to have the whole recipe. My child suffers from allergies and food with preservatives and artificial flavoring is out of his diet, so I urgently need this recipe as I’m running out of ideas to feed him healthily Thanks a lot.

    • says

      Well, after several tries, I am still not happy with the formula. And I can only make ham every few months when the fridge is not so full and only after we have consumed the last batch.

      So, there. Considering that your child’s need is pressing, and since I have given the procedure above anyway, it makes more sense for you to experiment instead of relying on someone else.

  9. tootsie says

    Will be experimenting on this real soon. Ready made ham is too expensive for daily sandwiches.

    I love your site Miss Connie! From the recipes to the animal stories and everything in between.

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