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maher

Cellars & Chambers for Curing and Aging

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the oven would be for the fermentaion only i assume, which is 12-72 hrs.

that's what i thought at first, too, but read again below:

I have discovered the perfect chamber for fermenting and curing- my oven.  It is sterile- just heat it to 300 the night before production, it will stay at 80F for fermentation by simply propping the door open w/ a thermometer and just shut the door and it stays at 65F.  I have a convection, so once a day I turn it on for about 20 sec's and then open and shut the door a couple of times.  It circulates the air over the sausage!  Must admit that this is the first time doing it this way, but all is going very well 3 weeks into the Spanish Chorizo and 1 week into the Soppressata.

To maintain humidity I use the utilitarian water in a pan w/ a pile of salt above the level of water.


 

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Hi folks,

I have a quick query regarding curing chambers. In the past, I've used a wine cooler that was passed along to me, and I've had pretty good luck with it. As the summer approaches, I'm starting a very dry curing projects (lousy seasonal timing I realize, but oh well) and as we have our first few 80-degree days, it just occurred to me that I have a few bottles of special beer and cider that should really be kept in the cooler.

So here's my question--is it very risky (in terms of mold and contamination) to store bottles of booze in the same small cooler as my hanging charcuterie? I'm thinking of it as a danger to the charcuterie, of course, rather than to the bottles. If I gave them a good wash right before then go in, would that help?

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Hmmm.. no thoughts on whether this would be a good or bad idea? The temperature is rising....

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i just picked up a sanyo counterhigh fridge (click) off my local craigslist for $75. i've seen half a dozen of these on there in the last few weeks. they come in sizes from 3.7-4.9 cuft and seem like a nice compromise between a regular minifridge and a full size unit. also, the door can hold two gallon jugs of milk, more than enough room for a smaller humidifier like this one. of course, with a size this small, other humidity control options might be more than sufficient.


 

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yeah, i was planning on monitoring it empty for a little while to get an idea of the baseline humidity. i guess i should have said (de)humidifier as small models of either sort could easily fit in the door.


 

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The more I read the more I'm lost. I have now out grown the wine cooler it has worked well and I'm going to keep it for what I think will be long term projects. After reading and rereading the topic. I know now to get a controller to plug into the fridge. Now my question is on humdity. Will the pan (bigger of course) salt with a touch of water (thank you again for the answers on that) be enough. Nope I don't have the fridge yet. I really can't wait to get all that I want going.

Jane

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I've never used a salt water pan, but theoretically it shoudl work.

Just note that the larger fridges will run dry, not humid like the wine fridges, as they have external coils, so the salt water try will have to add humidity.

Then what would you suggest and were would I get it? I'm always after a better effect. If nothing else I can start with the salt then go to ??

Thank You,

Jane

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Hygrostats (humidity controllers) tend to be rather expensive. (And need de/humidifying kit to control.)

However, hygrometers (humidity meters) are much cheaper.

But it is relatively rare to find an economical one with a humidity sensor that is not in-unit with the display. (So check the specs carefully!) Its good to be able to check the humidity (and temperature) without opening the door and disturbing those conditions!

This is an advantage of a fridge with a glass door!

I found a cheap humidity meter, with a probe on the end of a cable, that was intended for pet reptile terrariums!

With a meter, you can be the controller!

Which raises the question of how you adjust the humidity.

If your fridge has a condensate drain (so that the chiller condensate leaves the chamber), then you can DE-humidify by putting a tiny heater in there (like a fridge lightbulb in a waterproof enclosure) and running it for a few minutes at a time (depending on your heater/fridge/fan/etc) ... the heat causes the fridge to run harder/more often, giving more condensation, which when drained away (or otherwise removed) reduces the moisture inside the fridge ...

And of course you can raise the humidity by putting in a dish/tray of (unsalted) water ... the 'power' of that humidifier will depend on its surface area and the airflow over it.

Or perhaps you could find a packaged humidifier and dehumidifier that would fit into your chamber - and budget!

With a meter, you can see what humidity you actually have, and take (small) steps to adjust it. Expect the needs to change during the curing. If the humidity falls off, you could add some more new product!

Tinker! Have fun! See what works for you and your chamber.


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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I posted this in Michael Rulhmans topic which is the wrong place. Just getting the hang of how to post on here.

I have a Danby 4.5 cubic fridge and a Johnson control to keep the temp at 55. I am going to get a computer fan but need advice on where and how to mount it.


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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...

I have a Danby 4.5 cubic fridge and a Johnson control to keep the temp at 55. I am going to get a computer fan but need advice on where and how to mount it.

I don't know North American fridge brands, but ...

If your fridge has a condensate drain (so that the excess moisture that condenses on the cooler plate can flow to the outside of the fridge), then a fan is fairly optional.

In that situation, you are just using the fan to stir the air in the box, evening out temperature and humidity.

You might not even need one.

Generally fans aren't waterproof or watertight.

Two approaches - either put it where it can't get dripped on or otherwise inadvertently wet, or else give it a little roof to protect it!

And using a low voltage (5 or 12 volt) fan inside the fridge, with its mains transformer safely outside in the dry should be a safe way of working. You might well choose to have the whole setup (fridge and controller included) protected by an RCD, for maximum safety.

Using a cheap mechanical timer switch (as commonly advised for security light switching) to control the power to the transformer (or wall-wart) allows you to run the fan for a short time (15/30 minutes) every few hours.

The lead from transformer to fan can be thin cable which shouldn't interfere with the door seal - so just leading it out over the seal is the easiest route and the least damaging (to the fridge's future). Lead that low voltage cable out at the hinge side of the door. Duct Tape, as always, is useful for keeping the cable in its place.

And just to note that if you give the fan slightly less than its rated voltage (say 9 volts dc for a 12 volt dc fan) it should run more gently, more quietly, and likely longer. So you don't NEED a 12 volt wall-wart for a 12 volt fan. Just don't give the fan more than its rated voltage ....

Natural air circulation in the fridge is by cold air from near the chiller falling to the bottom and pushing the warmer air up to the chiller.

You might choose to blow air from top to bottom, or bottom to top, -- you just don't want the fan blowing directly onto your work- that would make for very uneven (and locally excessive) drying.

I'd suggest mounting the fan in the space normally taken by the door shelves. Its out of the way and clear of any part of the fridge's workings and electrics. And on many fridges this permits you to run a bit of pipe as a top-to-bottom air duct -- without needing to interfere with the fridge shelves. Sticking an inch and a half fan onto some matching scrap plastic pipe should do the job.

What you don't want is a big mains voltage fan blowing constantly straight at your product!

Anyone that hoards any scrap computer equipment would likely have several suitable fans. You aren't limited to just one. And any wall wart ought to be able to power several identical little fans (connected in parallel).

If you are intending using wet salt to moderate the humidity, try and create airflow over the salt (perhaps sufficiently important to deserve its own fan). And of course, if you put the wide and shallow salt tray at the top of the fridge, then it doesn't get dripped into! And the same goes for the fan or fans.

Humidity meters can be fairly cheap. But humidity controllers tend to be expensive. You'd typically use such a hygrostat to either drive a tiny heater (like the fridge light), so that the fridge worked harder, thereby making more condensation (to drop the humidity), or else to run a mister/fogger to increase the humidity.

Even a cheap, cheap, cheap meter will tell you more than you can guess about what's happening, so you can take control action.

However, if your fridge lacks a condensate drain, some people would advise making a hole to the outside world so that a fan can exchange some' air with the outside to control the internal humidity. (If you intend cutting holes, the door is a very safe place to do it.)

But removing the condensate differently (like with a sponge) is probably a much simpler solution!


"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

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Just to point out that the humidity sensor that drives a mister might not work in a fridge that small unless you build a roof for it. I've had poor luck with the humidistat in my converted dorm fridge. The space in there is so small that inevitably a drop of water gets from the mist onto the humidity sensor, which then causes it to run constantly, defeating its purpose.

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Thank you Dougle for your long explanation. I probably don't need a fan then. This is a little under the counter fridge and the evaporator plate is vertical on the back wall. There is no freezer. Yes I probably will use a shallow salt water tray and a sponge to remove the extra water build up. Thanks again.


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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I am gona try to do the curing with out the humid sensor. Do you have a fan in your dorm fridge?


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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I don't have a fan. Opening/closing the door when I check on the stuff inside circulates the air, as does the mini humidifier when it works. I'm using mine for cheese, so the salt tray doesn't quite get the humidity level up high enough to result in moist cheese once it's through aging.

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well maybe I can get away with out a fan. There is a drip pan on top of the compressor so the humidity will drain out. I want to make pepperoni, salami, and sooprasatta. I am blind so will be opening the door once a day to touch and smell and have a sighted friend look at what is happening.


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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When I wasn't using the humidifier, it worked well to put the salt water tray directly under the cooling unit, wherever the included drip tray was designed to go (in fact I just filled my drip tray with the salt and water). That way the water drips right back into the tray, and there's little if any moisture loss (my dorm fridge has a teeny freezer section, so for normal operation you'd just get ice buildup). I could go at least a month without adding anything. I'm not sure if your unit is arranged so you could do that.

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I have a johnson control to control my danby 4.4 cu ft fridge. There is no fan in it. It seems that some people use a fan and some don't. Does any one have a portable thermostat to control a little fridge and can you tell me if I need a fan or not. thanks


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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If I was you I'd give it a try without a fan first: if you are going to be opening the fridge once a day I think that may provide sufficient circulation to prevent overly-humid and overly-dry regions from developing in the fridge. My fridge has a fan that runs a few times per day (as part of normal refrigerator operation) and I have found that to actually probably be too much circulation: I have to work at it to keep the humidity up to prevent case hardening.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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okay chris I will try it. I intend to open the door twice a day to feel and smell the peperone. I think I will have sighted help to look at it too once a day. How will I know if a fan is needed or if anything is going wrong.


Steve the Blind meat Cutter

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My understanding is that the only purpose for the fan is to eliminate excessive humidity from building up in isolated regions: high humidity can encourage the growth of "bad" mold. However, there is some question about the "badness" of this "bad" mold (see this topic for details): I'd say that if you get a lot of fuzzy mold growth, especially only in isolated areas say near the top or bottom of the fridge where the air might be more stagnant, then you might want to think about getting more air circulation (and wipe off the mold).


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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