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Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Curing Chamber

After months of research I decided to really get serious about charcuterie.  So where to start?  The thing that worried me most about crafting and curing meats was proper drying .  Everything I read stressed the importance of temperature and humidity while curing.  So indeed a proper curing chamber was needed.  The idea was simple enough you need to control temperature (ideally around 55 degrees) and humidity (this can vary from 60% to 75% relative humidity depending on what your curing).  Inspiration was everywhere but I decided on using the concepts presented in both the cured meats, and Wrightfood blogs, although I did one or two things differently. 

First I scored a refrigerator from craigslist thirty bucks and its in great shape.  Then I hung the sign my daughters drew on a scrap piece of wood while I was getting it situated in my shed (hopefully it will bring good luck)

Curing Chamber (10 of 8)

Secondly The temperature controller.  the warmest I could get this fridge to run was about 45 degrees, much to warm for our purposes.  So we had to introduce a way to turn the fridge on and off as needed to achieve a slightly higher temperature.  I used this Controller from Johnson Controls, I got it on eBay for twenty three dollars.  Although its different from most of the units you see it is actually a wired switch, not the piggy back style plug in most people use.  It was a breeze to wire up.  Just search the web for keg temperature controller and bingo your in business.

Curing Chamber (12 of 8)

This thing is dead on Within 3 degrees.

Curing Chamber (14 of 8)

The bulb sensor mounted inside the fridge.

 

Next humidity, instead of using a cool mist humidifier with a separate humidistat I decided to go with an all in one unit to eliminate one more link in the chain where possible failure could occur.I picked up this unit for about a hundred dollars at Lowes.  at first I was skeptical about its humidistats accuracy but it has done exceptionally well. It also has a two and a half gallon tank which in my case lets me go a little over two weeks without a refill.

Curing Chamber (17 of 8)

I used a slim old work box which I had to modify to fit the cavity I created for the outlet wiring looks nice and clean.

Curing Chamber (15 of 8)

Thinking of putting a small fan inside for air circulation

Curing Chamber (11 of 8)

Signage and cheap little remote thermometer to give me a general idea of what's going on in there.

All in all I have about one hundred and sixty dollars invested in my curing chamber, and I’m thinking its money well spent.

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