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Cooked Ham – Step-By-Step Guide For A German Classic

In this article I will show you how you can make cooked ham at home. With a moderate effort you can achieve a super tasty result.

The great thing is, if you make your own boiled ham, you know exactly what ingredients are in it and where your meat comes from. These are exactly the things I love about homemade products. 

First of all… What is German Cooked Ham or Boiled Ham?

In Germany, we call it “Kochschinken” which is the literal translation. It is a well known sausage product here. The ham is typically wet cured and then cooked and cooled down. You can slice it super thin and enjoy it on a sandwich or even eat it as thicker cuts with asparagus and hollandaise.

The preparation takes 30 minutes of active preparation. For the ham curing you should plan about 4 days. Then the ham is cooked and must rest for 1 day.

As always, you can find the cooked ham recipe here as a video or text. 

I wish you a lot of fun trying it out and good luck.

Cooked Ham – What do you need to make it?

cooked ham-all ingredients

Ingredients for your cooked ham

1.5 kg pork ham

For 1 liter brine: 

You need about 20-30% of the weight of the meat of the brine. That means if your ham is 1.5 kg -> you need a maximum of 500ml of brine. You can either prepare 1 liter and use only as much as you need or you can adjust the spices to your volume.

The equipment to make cooked ham

Meat Injector Syringe

In order to inject the brine into the meat (the process ensures that the meat remains juicy, cures faster and more evenly), you will need a syringe. If you do not have one, you can find one on Amazon for around $15.

Thermometer & Pot OR Sous Vide Cooker

There are several ways to cook your ham.

The easiest way is with a Sous Vide cooker. With it, you can cook the meat gently at a constant temperature. This reduces the risk of the meat becoming too hot and therefore too dry.

You do not have a Sous Vide cooker? No problem! 

A pot also works. To reach the exact temperature, you will need a thermometer. 

Both variants achieve the same result. When using a saucepan, you should always make sure that the water in the saucepan is at a constant temperature during the cooking time.

(Optional) Meat Press

I personally make my ham in a bag and don’t attach much importance to it being perfectly round. 

Since I cook it Sous Vide, this part of the equipment is optional.

If you don’t have a sous vide cooker and want to cook the ham in a pot, you need a meat press. You can find one on Amazon for around $25.

Make Cooked Ham at home – Step-By-Step Instructions

1. First, you need to make the brine. Put the water and all the spices except the salt and cure in a saucepan and boil it. Shut off the heat and let it steep for 20-30 minutes. 

Tip: Chop the juniper berries a little bit beforehand.

cooked ham -pot

2. Let the brine cool down and add the salt and cure. Stir it well so everything is incorporated.

cooked ham -salt

3. If needed: Fill the brine into a container from which you can easily fill the syringe.

cooked ham -decant

4. Now it’s time to inject the brine into the ham. Inject 15-20% of the meat weight into the ham. You can stop as soon as you notice that the brine is leaking out more and more.

cooked ham -injection

5. Then put the ham, with a bit of the brine (approx. 10% meat weight) in a sealable bag.

cooked ham - plastic bag

6. Now squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible. Try not to squeeze the ham too much (otherwise the brine will come out again). Then close the bag. You can also vacuum seal on the lowest setting if you want to.

cooked ham -vacuum

7. The ham must now be cured in the refrigerator for about 4 days (Since we inject the ham, the curing time remains the same even with larger pieces)

Important: Turn the ham every day so that the brine can move in from all sides and spread out well.

cooked ham-twist

8. After 4 days it is time to cook your ham. Use the method that suits you best. 

When cooking sous vide, your ham takes about 3 hours at 72 °C (162 Fahrenheit)

Your goal is to reach a core temperature of 67 °C (152 Fahrenheit) to a maximum of 70 °C (158 Fahrenheit). Otherwise, the ham will be dry.

The alternative with a pot and a meat press can be found below at the tips & tricks.

Important: Make sure that the ham is always sufficiently covered with water.

cooked ham - cook

9. Once the ham is cooked, you can put it in a mold or on a plate. The white spots are spilled protein. You can wipe them off with a kitchen towel if you want to.

cooked ham-forms

10. Now the hardest part… More waiting. Cover your ham with foil and let it rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

cooked ham - ham

11.  Your boiled ham is ready to eat. Enjoy it and tell me how it worked.

cooked ham-ready

How long is the shelf life of the cooked ham?

Your ham can be kept covered in the refrigerator for about a week.

The alternative is to vacuum-pack the ham in portions. Vacuumed, it should keep in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

You can also freeze it. This increases the shelf life up to 2-3 months.

Tips & Tricks for your boiled ham

  • To get the air out of the bag, you can also press it into a container full of water. By putting it underwater the air will escape from the bag so easy and you don’t have to fight like I did in the video.
  • As an alternative to the Sous Vide Cooker you can use a pot with a meat press. After the curing is done you can put the ham from the bag into the device and press it. Then put the meat press in a pot and bring it to a boil. Then reduce the temperature to 80 °C (176 Fahrenheit) and cook for about 2 hours. Your goal is to reach a core temperature of 67 °C (152 Fahrenheit) to a maximum of 70 °C (158 Fahrenheit). Otherwise, the ham will be dry. Measure the core and water temperature regularly. Nothing is more annoying than a dry ham after all the time was invested.

The brine with the salt and Cure #1 helps with the durability and beautiful pinkish color. If you do not use a cure, the cooked ham would be grey.



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