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  1. For the past several years I've used a wine fridge as a curing chamber. This had the advantage of being dead simple: I just set the temperature as low as it would go (55°F, 13°C) and left it alone. This worked fine for short cures (a month or so), but the temperature control was poor, and humidity was controlled via the wet salt method, which results in humidity that is a bit too high. Because the cooling was thermoelectric, during the hot summer months here the fridge ran constantly and was still more like 65°F/18°C, which is bit higher than I would like. I also wanted to move the chamber to the garage so it wasn't taking up space in the kitchen, which would be completely untenable in the summer with only thermoelectric cooling. They also proved to be unreliable, repeatedly breaking down over the years (I've replaced both fans and Peltier units in two fridges). SO.... I wanted a new, more reliable, more accurate, more controllable system. I also wanted an excuse to goof around with my fledgling microcontroller skills. Here are the goals of the project: Temperature controlled to any set point between 10°C and 38°C (for fermentation stage). Humidity controlled to any set point between 60%RH and 90%RH. External readout of temp and humidity. Long-term average display of temp and humidity. Looks cool. Is fun to create.Actually, number six was probably the primary driver here, if I'm being honest with myself. The others followed from that! To address temperature control over that range, I needed to use a compressor-driven refrigerator, rather than a thermoelectric unit (basically none of which can reliably get the interior temperature that low when living in the garage). At the other end of the spectrum the plan is to simply use a lamp as a "heater" -- this is unimplemented as of yet, because I don't need a fermentation stage in my current curing projects. For humidity control the plan was to use a humidifier in a box below the fridge that vents into the fridge itself, and to use an exhaust fan at the top of the unit to dehumidify (given the nearly-always-low humidity here in central Oklahoma). I have not implemented the actual humidifier yet because I don't need upward control at the moment, my problem is dehumidification. To control all of this I am using an Arduino Uno development board coupled with a DHT22 temp/humidity sensor, plus four pins used to control the fridge (via an AC relay), lamp (AC relay), humidifier (AC relay), and exhaust fan (transistor). I've also got a 16x2 LCD wired up to display the status and averages. Here is a shot of the breadboarded system (obviously once I'm happy with it I'll ditch the breadboard...): The LCD is set up to display the current conditions on the top line, and a rotating set of averages (hourly, daily, and monthly) on the bottom line: Here's the installed prototype (you can see the chamber for the humidifier below the fridge): A closeup of the electronics: The sensor placement (obviously not permanent, the whole thing is still in the prototype stage): My fancy dehumidifier (there is a hole drilled into the fridge beneath the fan): If you are of a technical bent you can see the control code at GitHub. Once I've finalized the system I'll also publish the schematics there.
  2. We made some salami a couple of months back using the pork from our berkshire pigs (which we rear on our orchard). We followed Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's advice in the River Cottage Cookbook, using LS25 as a starter and hung the sausages in our verandah, which is well aired and generally in shade except perhaps at sunset. We were going to take them down around about now, but have noticed the mould on them is not quite as it should be. They developed white mould about midway through the process of being hung, but this week we spotted other colours. We are uncertain how long they've been like that - maybe just a few days, potentially a few weeks. They are partially covered in a thin layer of white mould, but also in places grey/green and, more worryingly, with spots of black. The black seems to be a development of the white mould - you have spots of black surrounded by a circle of white. In addition, they have some moisture on them - which looks to me like condensation but appears slightly correlated with the black mould. (There appear to be spots of black where the condensation is - possibly just random coincidence.) I took a couple of pictures, below. Does anyone have any experience they could share on this? I've seen a lot of different opinions, ranging from "anything other than white is potentially deadly" to "you can just wipe it off with vinegar and it should be fine". Obviously I don't want to take risks with our health, but nor do I want to throw away 3 kilos of our produce. So I'm hoping someone will have useful insights! Thanks Josh
  3. I've recently been reading (well, skipping around) my copy of Ruhlman & Polcyn's Charcuterie. My interest is primarily in dry cured products like prosciutto or bresaola. So I'd like to start a thread specifically about these variants. As my plans for building a curing chamber (and a proper place for it) take a back seat to other pressing home renovations, I'm in a kind of limbo between consumer and producer/both. But my imagination goes on and I keep finding new questions - among these are: 1) Commercial prosciutto: I've been doing taste tests with various super/specialty market prosciuttos and have found less differentiation than I would've expected. Even between a Walmart Del Duca and a Boar's Head imported Prosciutto di Parma, The Parma did take the edge in the judging, but not but not at a premium of $10/pound. Is actual prosciutto bought in Itally better? 2) The book Charcuterie seems to stop at describing the procedure for specfic things, That's fine, but what if I want to do something different (e,g, treat a pork loin as a breasaola)? Could science create a prosciutto in a shorter time by cutting it down into smaller pieces?
  4. I made some Lonza and cured it for 2 weeks. In the drying chamber (70% humidity and 55F with gentle air flow) it's only been 4 days but it's already lost 30% of its pre-drying chamber weight. Normally that can take weeks. Is that normal, and is the meat ready? Thank you
  5. Novice at meat-curer looking for advice. I'm making 2 pancettas this season. The first one I used the over-salting technique. What I didn't expect was that the salt would all turn into brine in a day, and I expected that I could scrape away the excess salt at the end. Instead, I left it on the brine for too long, and the result was too salty. The meat firmed up in 2 days so I should've taken it out then. For my second one, which is currently in the fridge, I used the equilibrium salting technique. I added about 100g salt for 3.5kg meat. The problem now is that it's not firming up seemingly at all! It has been 9 days in the fridge, and flipping it every day or 2. After 6 days, however, there was no pool of brine left. I put the meat in a folded over but unsealed bag. Did the brine evaporate or resoak into the meat? Any advice on how to continue would be appreciated.
  6. Is there anyone in the forum that can suggest me how to cook this kind of Portuguese sausage? Many thanks in advance!!!!
  7. Alright so as of a few months ago, I decided to take an impromptu trip to Europe--mostly unplanned but with several priorities set in mind: find the best food and locate the most game-changing ice cream spots on the grounds of each city I sought out for. One of the greatest, most architecturally unique and divine cities I have visited thus far has gotta be Vienna, Austria. But what in the heck is there to eat over there?! (you might ask). 'Cause I sure as hell didn't know. So, I desperately reached out to a local Viennese friend of mine, who knows and understands my avid passion for all things edible, and she immediately shot back some must-have food dishes. Doing a bit of research beforehand, I knew I had to try the classic "Kasekreiner". Please forgive my German if I spelled that wrong. But no matter how you say it- say it with passion, because passion is just about all I felt when I ate it. Translated: it basically means cheese sausage. Honestly, what is there not to love about those two words. Even if that's not necessarily your go-to, do me a favor and give it a shot. Trust me, you won't regret it. A classic Austrian pork sausage with pockets of melty cheese, stuffed into a crisp French Baguette. No ketchup necessary (...and as an American, that's saying a lot). YUM. Best spot to try out this one-of-a-kind treat?! Bitzinger bei der Albertina – Würstelstand. Now here's a shot of me with my one true love in front of this classic Viennese green-domed building-- Karlskirche. Now, go check it.
  8. Hi all, Inspired by the chapter about confits in Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie", I've prepared confits of both duck legs, lamb shoulder and pork belly a couple of times at home. Results have been great, and the confits have never had the chance to hang around in the fridge for very long before it's all eaten up. I have a question regarding the confit jelly, the dark juices that collect on the bottom of the pan after cooking. Ruhlman & Polcyn, and also Robuchon in "The Complete Robuchon", write that care should be taken not get any of these juices into your storage jar if you want to store the confit for any length of time. Ruhlman & Polcyn write that the jelly can go sour over time. I've consulted some other cookbooks, including Fearnley-Whittingstall's "River Cottage Meat Book" and Henderson's "Nose to tail eating", and they don't make any particular mention of the jelly and the need for removing it. The jelly is amazing in sauces and stocks, but how important is it really to get it out of the confit storage container? And, what's the easiest way of separating the jelly from the duck fat before pouring the fat over the cooked meat? I made some rillons this weekend, and I would like to have them around for a couple of weeks at least, to see if I can pick up "aging"/ripening qualities in the confit. I ladled fat over the cooked belly, trying not to get any of the jelly juices into the storage container, but I'm pretty sure some jelly snook it's way in there.
  9. So I want to do a Dr Pepper brine on some gorgeous pork belly I was lucky enough to find today. I'm thinking garlic, chilies, thyme and Dr Pepper syrup, but I'm worried that with a 3-4 day brine, the phosphoric acid in the syrup is going to mangle the meat. Any ideas? Should I just do a standard brine, and the a short dry cure with the syrup? I'm sort of at a loss on this one.
  10. Hi, I've looked around for an answer for this question and I can't seem to find one. It's my first post in this forum, having hovered around for a while, so please be gentle with me I've finally started making my own pancetta recently, with inspiration from here. I've been using a pre-blended curing mix that I bought online at sausage making.org. The result tastes just fine but I need to work on my meat trussing skills ! I now have a reasonable supply in my fridge and freezer so won't be making any more for a few months at least. I was wondering what to do with the rest of the cure blend I have sitting in my cupboard. Could I use my cure mixture to corn some beef brisket that I have in the freezer, or should I simply buy a bespoke cure for my brisket and save the other mix for when I finally run out of pancetta? If it's ok to go with the the mix can I just add the other ingredients like coriander and the like?
  11. This sandwich took me a few days to make but it was well worth it. Plus I have enough lamb bacon left to make another 8 or 10 of these. And plenty of lamb bacon fat for whatever tickles my fancy. Raw, bone in lamb breast, halved, for $.99/lb. Lamb Breast - Raw (Forgive me, I don't know how to intersperse photos and text and this site so I used links) This was cured in the "basic cure" using the salt-box method with a head of fresh-pressed garlic for 2 days in the fridge. Then wiped down and smoked over pecan for 3 hours at about 165F. Lamb Breast - Smoked The lamb was then deboned, sliced, and cooked in the oven at 250F for about 30 minutes (that's about 1/3rd of a boned slab's worth of lamb bacon you see here). Lamb bacon can be tough and rubbery but slow cooking in the oven on a half sheet pan solves that. Lamb Bacon - Cooked Then assembled into a Lamb BLT with thin sliced red onion, cucumber, cheese, and mayo (as well as the lettuce and campari tomatoes). Served with garlic olives and peperoncini. Lamb BLT It's going to be hard to top this at dinner time. -sw
  12. I have a bunch of carbon steel meat grinder plates, which I despise: I have no idea how one can actually keep the damned things rust-free, they seem to oxidize in the time it takes me to dry them. I just got a catalog from sausagemaker.com in the mail, and it seems they sell a wide range of stainless steel grinder plates. Has anyone tried them, and are there other sources out there I don't know about?
  13. I saw a couple of interesting bacon products at the supermarket today. I don't usually stop at the bacon section, because I'm both a member of the Bacon of the Month Club (www.gratefulpalate.com) and a consumer of mostly high-end artisanal bacon. But I love bacon in all its forms and was especially pleased to see some of the clever new schemes that have been devised for bringing the maximum possible amount of bacon into every American home. The first item I noticed was Hormel's pre-cooked bacon strips. These look incredibly useful, and though I haven't tasted them I see no reason to think they wouldn't just taste like cooked Hormel bacon. The packages are a bit skimpy, but they do contain the equivalent of a cooked-and-drained pound of bacon for about $3.50. They appear to require no refrigeration. The other item I noticed, out of the corner of my eye as I was preparing to depart the bacon aisle, was microwave-ready bacon. Well, all bacon is microwave-ready by definition, but this bacon came neatly wrapped in absorbent material so you could go direct from package to microwave with no intermediate paper-towel-wrapping step. Very convenient indeed. Has anybody else witnessed interesting bacon technology lately that I have perhaps overlooked?
  14. I always thought a confit was a way of preserving meat in fat,mainly found in areas of Southern France. Last night,at Cantina Vinopolis in London, my rib eye was accompanied by "confit tomatoes".What arrived appeared to me to be a cooked tomato with a clove of garlic on top. I've also noticed on menus "confit of vegetables" ,"confit of onions", "confit of beetroot" etc. Is this just modern menu-speak (as in "pan-fried") or is there a special cooking technique being applied?
  15. I don't expect it will surprise anyone to hear that I had a great lunch at Salumi, in Pioneer Square, today. I met my dad (who works downtown) there. He had the porchetta sandwich, which consists of sausage-stuffed butterflied pork on a baguette that has been slathered with a garlic-herb oil. Peppers and onions are optional but recommended. It's a pretty incredible sandwich; the pork is juicy (the sausage and oil keep it plenty moist) and really tastes like pork. I had the same meat, but baked into a lasagna with peperoncini and cheese. Do I need to go into detail about how good this was? While in line we got free samples of hot soppressata and garlic salami. Outrageous bursts of flavor. Maybe next time I'll get the salami sandwich. If anyone here hasn't tried the place yet, let me know, and I will meet you there. They're open for lunch Tue-Fri from 11-3.
  16. I *love* bacon and in the last year and a half, I've come to truly cherish good bacon. Now I love my bacon to have a 50/50 ratio of fat to meat and I cook it so it has crispy edges but is still semi-flaccid. I'd like to know where everyone else goes when they want the best bacon pigs can proffer. I'm not talking about the national brands that are really thin like Oscar Meyer. But as far as national brands go (it suppose it could be regional), Fletcher's is pretty damn good and it used to be my favorite. Another plus is that's available at most grocery stores. Now I've tried the primo deli bacon from A & J's on Queen Anne and I found it to have too much meat and not enough fat, resulting in tough and chewy bacon, more like a slice of ham instead of bacon. I've also had the deli bacon from Central Market in Shoreline and although beautiful was as dissapointing as A & J's. At the moment my favorite bacon is from the Fred Meyer deli. I've bought some from the Lake City Way store and the Ballard store and their bacon (in my humble opinion) is the standard by which all should be compared to. But it seems odd that such good bacon should come from such a lowend store. I'm not saying that FM is a dump, I love the Ballad FM, but I would imagine that specialty shops and high-end grocercies should in principle have better bacon. Where does everyone else go?
  17. I noticed an Irish butcher in Adare had interesting subcategories of bacon available for sale the other day. I haven never seen these breakouts. Would anyone be able to provide a thumb nail description of the differences? Collar of bacon Breast of bacon Shoulder of bacon The market was open from 9 am to noon, and 230 to 6 pm, so I didn't have the opportunity to actually enter it and examine the wares. Looked like a wide range of black, red, and other sausages were available, too.
  18. i'm considering a duck confit quesadilla of sorts for the superbowl festivities. prolly with a fruit (mango) salsa, as duck likes sweet fruits. i'm having a hard time coming up with a cheese or cheese blend. i'm of the opinion that cheddar or even jack will overpower, or at the very least, won't compliment the duck. a brief search on google returned Oaxaca cheese, which is a white cow's milk cheese (from mexico of course of course). but i'm thinking i won't be able to locate this on a sunday in NJ. any thoughts on what kind of cheese duck confit might like? no cheese perhaps? a fruit puree instead? i dunno. help a guy out, could ya?
  19. Stone

    Second -- Bacon

    "Smushy crisp" -- a description from someone else's post. And a perfect description at that. That's just how I like it. Not too crisp, or it dries out my mouth. Not too rare or, well, it's just gross. How do you like your bacon? (Other than plentiful.)
  20. A day without bacon is like a day without bacon.
  21. I’ve always loved making gumbos, and have gotten to the point where I’m very pleased with the my concoctions – most of them are pretty basic, traditional gumbos. But I moved from the U.S. sometime ago, and authentic Southern US ingredients are not in ready supply – in fact, pretty much non-existent. One of the key, basic ingredients I love to add to my gumbos is: andouille. The good news is, I have a feeling that "andouille," or something very satifsfactorily similar exists here in Melbourne – even if under a different name. I say that because, there’s a huge selection here of European (both mediterranean and eastern) sausages, smoked and cured meats, deli items, etc etc, pretty much everywhere you turn. The main market in Melbourne, Queen Victoria Market, has a staggeringly fantastic amount of choice: Italian, French, Hungarian, Polish, Greek, Turkish … truly bountiful. So I wonder if someone can help me find the closest equivalent to andouille, from these or other cultures. Never having made it, I’m not sure of any very-specifically-Southern U.S. spices or additions that go into the real thing, but even leaving those aside, what’s the next closest beast? Italian Cotechino? Polish Kielbasa? French garlic sausage? Spanish chorizo? I’m not totally up on which (if any) of these kinds of sausages are smoked, like an andouille is. Thanks for any help you can provide everyone.
  22. I've always noticed this phenomenon when cooking bacon, but I always think of it at the wrong time to post. Now, the time has come. The fat streaks in bacon go through three distinct phases. Out of the fridge, they're white. After a few moments in the hot pan, they're translucent. By the time cooking is done, they're somewhere in between. The most interesting part of the process is the transition from translucent to crisp. The fat doesn't cook steadily. Suddenly there will be a hiss, and a section of it will turn nearly opaque. This was amazing to watch on some thin-sliced guanciale I was cooking the other day. Pop! You could watch the color change shoot along the strip of cured jowl. Stirring the bacon seems to accelerate the process. What in the world is going on here? It looks almost like a crystallization reaction. This is a very important question for physics, and I'd like to see our Einsteins on this thread soon. Thank you.
  23. Oh, how I love bacon, and one day on a whim I decided to try some chocolate at the same time as some hot bacon off the pan and was instantly transported. So I am wondering if it would be possible to incorporate the rich bacony taste into a chocolate cake. Use bacon grease in a chocolate butter cake? Or actual bits of bacon perhaps? I'm imagining a down-home rich Southern chocolate-bacon cake with a mocha frosting. I just don't know how to pull it off. I'm (obviously) an amateur baker- my husband thinks this idea is insane......
  24. In a recently received gift basket, I got a large package of Andouille sausages from D'Artagnan. Since I limit my rare occasion of meat consumption to fish and shellfish, I have no idea what to do with them except as flavoring agents in Gumbo and Paella. Does anyone have any ideas? I don't mind cooking them, I just don't want to eat them.
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