Curing Chamber questions

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LOUSANTELLO
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Curing Chamber questions

Post by LOUSANTELLO » Fri Jan 01, 2016 18:19

Ok, I'm ready to move forward and I have some questions. #1 Has anybody used Umai bags for soppressata within a curing chamber or should I just use regular casings? #2 Best temperature and humidity for fermentation process? #3 Best temperature and humidity for curing process? #4 Best solution for dehumidifying? #5 Best solution for heating? I'm going to order Auberin equipment Dual channel temperature and seperate dual channel humidity. Coolling and humidifying is the easy part. I've seen people cut fans into the side for dehumidifying. It makes no sense to me because you must be altering the temp a lot. Also, it's only as good as the external humidity taking into the unit? Correct me if I'm wrong. Thanks. Lou
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redzed
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Post by redzed » Sat Jan 02, 2016 01:58

1. Umai bags are for use in a frost free refrigerator running at refrigerator temperatures. This question has been asked before and I ran a test. Results here: http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=7573

2. Humidity as high as you can get it, 90%+. Temp is starter culture dependant.

3. 12C, and 80%

4. Different methods have worked well for different people: 1. installing a dehumidifier 2. Installing a heater causing the fridge to cycle more often 3. Ventilation running on dehumidifying mode or on a timer. Recovery of temp and humidity is quick and you in fact need to introduce new air into the chamber on a regular basis. Some air movement is also necessary.

5. Read Stanley and Adam Marianski, The Art of Making Fermented Sausages.
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Post by Tom » Sat Jan 02, 2016 19:25

Lou

I have a small fan in my chamber just to move the air around a bit. There is some discussion out there about premature case harding if to much air movement is involved. Mine is not vented to the outside of the chamber. The air movement does not effect the temperature that I set, from what I can see. I also have a small heater and humidifier in the chamber. I tested the chamber for several months before usage and everything worked as planned. It's a very simple build even simpler if you purchased all the controllers premade. Tom
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Jan 02, 2016 19:57

While you are reading the book it might want to be more observant of your ambient temperature and humidity around your home. Chicago is known for its high humidity and I checked yesterday and you were only 5% lower than Rome Italy. You might be surprised at what you can do without a curing chamber. Lake Michigan, like the Mediterranean, puts a lot of humidity in the air and this is what you want. Granted, central heat and air will change this inside a home but with some ingenuity this can easily be remedied.

I have curing chamber and a fermentation chamber but I haven't used the curing chamber in years because I have the Atlantic on one side and Peter's Puddle on the other and am blessed - or cursed - with plenty of humidity.

A simple thing to do to help get your head around this is to take some clothes out of the washer and hang them around your house. If you hung them outside they might dry in a few hours so its obvious this would be too harsh for salami. However, if you hung them in your garage, basement or bathroom it might take a day or better to dry. This would be perfect conditions for drying meat.

When I came to this epiphany life got so much simpler. Now I simply ferment to get the target pH then hang and forget and let nature take its course. Granted there were some small problems in the beginning - mainly with wild molds - but the more meat I cured the less wild mold appeared. But to be honest, I never really worried so much about the wild molds - not like some people anyway - because my friend is a retired microbiologist and he drops by frequently and would look at them and give me his assurance that they were fine. He did caution me about slime but the molds he saw didn't seem to concern him and he is really ticky about his food.

Just giving you some food for thought. Here is some of my stuff hanging from the ceiling. The floor is sealed concrete so my humidity stays pretty constant but on real cold days when the ambient humidity drops due to the cold I may have to either spray the floor with water or turn on a humidifier. I normally just spray the floors down and this fixes things for several days but these conditions are infrequent. I don't worry so much about temperature. Lower temps will just slow drying, higher will just increase it some but inside it stays well within an acceptable temperature range. I concern myself primarily with humidity.

Image

This next picture is a photo a friend took of his work. His situation is completely different because he lives in a high desert and has very little humidity so he does his curing in a basement with dirt floors. He says the dirt floors are critical in that this is where the humidity comes from. He says if the floor was non-sealed concrete then curing would be impossible because unsealed concrete will act as a sponge. His process is interesting to me in that he doesn't use starter cultures nor does he place anything in a fermentation chamber. He simply stuffs the sausages, pricks them with a sewing roller then hangs them in the cellar. Occasionally, he will open the cellar door to change the air but other than that he does nothing but let nature take its course and his stuff is really good but his family has been making it this way for generations.

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Follow Redzed's recommendation and read the Marianski book. There is none better than this book to give you an understanding of the chemistry of how this all works but with this understanding also understand the book is giving you the optimal conditions and processes but you don't always have to have constant optimal conditions to make this stuff. The key is keeping your humidity at a level at which the water bond will not break during drying. Once broken, you are screwed.

In my opinion having a larger space with less than optimal conditions is more forgiving than having a small chamber running at optimal conditions when something goes awry and you approach the critical conditions - mainly low humidity. In other words, if you can keep your humidity high you are golden and since you live in Chicago and are blessed - or cursed - with high humidity I would try and take full advantage of this if I could. As mentioned, there are many ways to make these products successfully you just need to understand what these conditions are and work within them.
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