Chill ham to 40 degrees Fahrenheit immediately upon slaughter. Plan to start curing ham during the cool weather months of December and January, unless mechanical refrigeration is available. Ham requires four to six weeks of nighttime temperatures at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Curing ham at higher temperatures will induce spoilage.
Prepare ham for curing by trimming excess fat. Leave at least 1/4 inch of fat covering the meat.
Apply cure 24 to 48 hours after ham has chilled. There are many recipes for curing mixes and it just depends on ones preference as to which one to use. A basic mix consists of 2 lbs. non-iodized (canning) salt to 1 lb. sugar. Add cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes or black pepper for a spicier flavor. Approximately 1 1/3 ozs. of cure is needed for each pound of ham.
Cover the working area with newspaper and lay a large sheet of freezer wrap, or other meat packaging paper, on top of the newspaper. Place the ham on the freezer wrap.
Pull the meat from nearest the bone on the hock end of the ham and pour ¼ cup of cure seasoning inside. The hock end is the meatier end of the ham. This is essential for curing the central part of the ham and reducing the chance of spoilage.
Rub cure seasoning all over the ham with your hands, paying careful attention to any crevices. More cure seasoning is typically better than less.
Position the ham in the center of the freezer paper and wrap the ham tightly with the freezer wrap. Don't roll the ham to wrap, pull the paper up around the ham. You want to keep the cure seasoning intact as much as possible.
Twist each end and ease the wrapped ham into a clean panty hose stocking. Work it all the way to the bottom of the stocking. Do not use tape or seal the ends. The ham must be able to release juices in order to cure properly.
Hang in a cool, dry place. Curing typically requires hams to hang three days for each pound of meat.
Remove ham after curing period. Unwrap the ham, remove cure along with any mold that has developed. A cloth saturated with apple cider vinegar can be used to wipe moldy areas from the ham. Allow to dry for about 30 minutes and rub the ham down with vegetable oil.
Rewrap the ham and return it to the panty hose stocking. Place in a well-ventilated area to age. Hams can be hung and allowed to age for a minimum of three months and for as long as six months.