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How To Build A Home Made Curing Chamber... By Uwanna

Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 01:17
by uwanna61
Hey all
Our ol` rusty dusty wagon wheel (chuckwagon) asked if I could share a piece, on how to build a homemade curing chamber, so here I go.
All though not a perfect design this is about as close as I could get to a homemade cabinet without spending a wad of cash. Below is a list of materials I put together to build a curing chamber
1. Working refrigerator / freezer (I prefer a freezer it has more cabinet space)
2. Humidity control - With my setup I use a 1UHG3 from Grainger, ... Pid=search
This controller is not perfect but works pretty well, I found it will keep the humidity level within 2 - 3% of the set point.
Green air makes a nice humidity and or temperature controller, but I wanted to keep the cost down. ... llers.html
3. Temperature control- Here I also ordered from Grainger a Ranco controller. ... Pid=search
I have experimented with several temp controllers and this one seems to last and work much better than the others I have purchased. Again not perfect but it does maintain temps within a degree or 2 from the set point.
4. Nursery humidifier - This can be picked up from any retail drug store. Keep in mind a smaller humidifier will work fine and not take up to much space. I have a 1 gallon humidifier and the water will last for several days.
5. Small fan - I installed a fan in my cabinet, but found that I rarely use the fan due to I find it dries my salami out to quick. I open the door once a day to check on things and this circulates the air.
6. Heat source - I setup a 75 watt light below in the cabinet with a dimmer switch to help out during winter months, but I rarely use the bulb. Most of the salamis I make, will take place spring through fall.

Setting up takes basic wiring and can be completed on a Saturday afternoon. Keep in mind when drilling into the side of the fridge/freezer to make sure not hit any wiring or cooling coils. It also helps to find a fridge / freezer with a defrost selector on/off switch. The auto defrost is something we don`t want, this will draw moisture out of the cabinet and we don`t want this, we want to keep the moister in the cabinet. A majority of the newer refrigerators today come with an auto defrost and have no selection, so you may be looking for a unit a couple years old.
Plan ahead, be creative and shop around, deals on refrigerators/ freezer pop up all over the place. I just picked up a freezer from a guy for free, he claimed it did not work anymore, I brought the 4 yr old freezer home and found, it just needed a good cleaning. I cleaned the compressor (under the unit) and the rest of the cabinet inside and out, and it works :mrgreen:

Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 01:27
by Chuckwagon
Excellent ol' pard! Now all the members can see why I call Uwanna our site's "resident expert" when it comes to fermenting chambers and controls. Wally is a good friend of mine and he speaks from years of experience. Thanks for your wisdom and willingness to share it Wally!

Best Wishes,

Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 01:40
by uwanna61
Thanks bud
The two larger salamis in the 1st picture are the saddle bums smoky beef stick, will slice one tomorrow evening for a taste test :wink:

Posted: Thu Nov 17, 2011 23:12
I am at a loss. How does this work? How is it wired?

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 01:38
by Bubba
uwanna61 wrote:The two larger salamis in the 1st picture are the saddle bums smoky beef stick
Hi Uwanna, I was also wondering about the smaller sausages in the first Photo, (they remind me a lot of Landjaeger)

Thank you for the info, after my cold smoker project I would like to attempt this one next year. In the mean time I have been keeping an eye open for a suitable refrigerator, no luck so far but I'll find one. :)

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 02:21
by uwanna61
This may look a little complicated, but it`s really not. I used about 20` of common insulated 14 -3 wire to complete all the connections. The junction box is the main power supply for all necessary power. There will be a main power cord using 14-3 wire and a cord end to plug into the wall outlet, to power everything.
All switches outlets and controllers will need power from the junction box, therefore you will need the extra 20` of 14-3 wire to run power to everything. I hope this helps, I mentioned this project can be completed with basic wiring skills, but by all means, if anyone feels uncomfortable wiring they should seek an electricians help to assist with this project.
I would also like to mention, that the temperature controller I have comes with good instruction to assist with the wiring.
My next project I plan to run wire conduit so that all the wires are not hanging on the side of the fridge. It looks a cluttered and I threw this thing together as my first project.

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 02:28
by uwanna61
Hey Bubba
Good to hear from you. Well the smaller sausage is an attempt at soppressata. The casings are 38mm should have gone with the larger casings :razz: It was a small batch and I was thinking smaller would dry quicker, with a quicker taste test :mrgreen:

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 16:19
What is the highest temp. this unit will run without the heating bulb?


Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 17:04
by ssorllih
Uwanna, You can make the appearance of this one more pleasing by the use of a handful of cable ties. We used to have to lace everything with waxed tape.

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 18:53
by uwanna61
I mainly setup this unit for curing purpose only, running average temps between 50 - 60 degrees. The fermentation process is done in my smoker, I also have a setup in the smoker for humidity and temperature control.
I have no issues keeping the curing temps at a specific set point ranging from 35 - 60 degrees. The light bulb was placed in the fridge to help control "curing chamber" temps, when the outdoor temperatures are cold in the garage. Although I have never tested the heat source (bulb) to determine how high the temps would go, I would imagine one could increase the range up above 60 degrees with no problem.
Here in Vermont our temperatures are up during the daytime and some days drop dramatically down in the evening time, and without the bulb to provide warmth inside the chamber to control the temperature, the outside temperature will take over the inside temps and drop down below the set point.
Keep in mind this is an introduction on my idea of a curing chamber and the sky is the limit on how one would build a fermenting and or curing chamber. There are several options on setup, ranging from cooling, heating, humidity controls and air calculation, and so on. I do have plans on building another curing chamber, using a freezer I just picked up from a buddy. I`m waiting on the right deal for a PID controller, something that will control heat and humidity all in one shot. I have also put some thought on setting up a humidifier in the top of the curing chamber instead of at the bottom, so that the cool air mist will drop down into the chamber, due to moisture is heavier and drops down and not forcing the moisture up with a humidifier.
Hope this helps.

Posted: Fri Nov 18, 2011 19:18
by Bubba
uwanna61 wrote:the smaller sausage is an attempt at soppressata
I would have done the same with the smaller casing to get a quicker taste test.

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 02:32
by atcNick
very nice mr uwanna!

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 03:28
by JerBear
I heard an interesting fan idea, not sure where I read it, but essentially the fan was wired in conjunction with the humidifier so that when the humidifier kicked on so did the fan.

Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 15:36
by IdaKraut
Excellent writeup and pictures.

If I may make a suggestion for those contemplating doing something like this, I would not direct wire the fridge to the Ranco temp controller. Instead, run a 12-3 or 14-3 cord that has been cut (preferably one that has multiple outlets on the end - see picture below) into the Ranco. That way the Ranco can be used for either cooling or heating. During the warmer months, plug the fridge into the Ranco controlled outlet and during the colder months, plug the light bulb or other heater into it. The Ranco is a great digital controller that will do either heating or cooling control.


Posted: Thu Jul 19, 2012 17:08
by atcNick
How critical is the frost free feature on the freezer? If I use a freezer that is frost free would the humidifier and humidity controller be able to keep up and keep the humidity levels steady?