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Curing and Cooking with Ruhlman & Polcyn's "Charcuterie" (Part 5)


jmolinari
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Making Salsiccia?

I realise salsiccia is a generic italian word for sausage, but when I buy it here, it refers to short chubby fresh pork sausages. Usually unflavoured, but sometimes flavoured with porcini or truffle. The fat content is quite high and they have a wonderful porky taste and a coarse and firm texture when cooked. I'm guessing there is only pork, salt and perhaps extra fat in the filling, but I don't really know.

Does anyone know more? Pointers to a recipe? Is there a similar sausage in the book?

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Making kraut the traditional way with dry salt on cut cabbage, hasn't been fail-safe on small batches (single head of cabbage). 

Agreed. I haven't tried the brined method from the book, but the few times I've tried to make 'kraut, just salting didn't bring out enough moisture, and the results were dumped (even the batch that I tried to save by topping-up the brine was no good).

Anyway, this is my first post, and I come to you guys because...well, I have a mold problem. I recently picked up a fullsize fridge to use for curing/drying meats, since I've been doing alot of guanciale recently, and wanted to expand the home curing operation to handle salami, other fermented sausages and the like. At some point somebody pointed me at the Fergus Henderson "The Whole Beast" book and I decided I wanted to try the "Dried, Salted Pig's Liver" dish. Everything went fine in the cure (2 weeks) and then I wrapped it in cheesecloth and laid it on the top rack of the new fridge (there's some guanciale hanging in the bottom area. I have the fridge on a regulator so the temp is ~55 and the humidity is usually between 70-85%. I assume this is because the regulator keeps the freezer section from ever actually coming to a full freeze, and thus the water in the freezer section causes humidity to travel down into the fridge compartment.

At any rate, I pulled the liver out after 3 weeks and unwrapped it, and noticed that there are a few spots of mold that have taken up residence. Pics of the moldiest lobe: zoom and wide

It's white mold, so I'm hoping I can just wipe it off with a towel dipped in brine (as suggested in the Ruhlman/Polcyn book) but it smells real funky so I thought I'd check. Then again, it could smell funky because it's a cured/dried pig's liver :blink:

1) Should I just wipe off the mold?

2) I paged through this thread, poking around for answers and I found pics of a fridge with a fan hooked up inside it. Would that bring my humidity down, or just recirculate the same humid air?

thanks in advance! [/ramble]

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hey guys, I just bought the book last week and decided to try my hand at the duck ham recipe. Unfortunately it came out a disaster. The outer layer of duck was too hard for human consumption, same goes for how insanely salty it was. I followed the recipe to a T. Any advice?

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hey guys, I just bought the book last week and decided to try my hand at the duck ham recipe. Unfortunately it came out a disaster. The outer layer of duck was too hard for human consumption, same goes for how insanely salty it was. I followed the recipe to a T. Any advice?

If it was too hard it is because it was dried in an environment which had to low humidity. The saltiness is harder to pinpoint.

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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... I decided I wanted to try the "Dried, Salted Pig's Liver" dish.  Everything went fine in the cure (2 weeks) and then I wrapped it in cheesecloth and laid it on the top rack of the new fridge (there's some guanciale hanging in the bottom area.  I have the fridge on a regulator so the temp is ~55 and the humidity is usually between 70-85%.  I assume this is because the regulator keeps the freezer section from ever actually coming to a full freeze, and thus the water in the freezer section causes humidity to travel down into the fridge compartment.

...

... I paged through this thread, poking around for answers and I found pics of a fridge with a fan hooked up inside it.  Would that bring my humidity down, or just recirculate the same humid air?

An extractor fan could lower the humidity... {unless its really humid outside}

... a circulating fan will equalise the humidity.

Now, equalising the humidity can be pretty useful, because mould will grow in nooks, crannies and similarly sheltered corners where the local humidiity is high enough.

Normally, a little air movement is considered to be 'a good thing'.

I'm not familiar with the specific recipe you quote, but it seems likely to me that the cheesecloth would have the effect of raising the local humidity for the liver - so it didn't dry out too quickly.

That might be needed for a dryish, "airy" or even downright draughty drying environment... however... hmmm.

I'd suggest that humidity towards 85% is going to encourage mould.

And that you could reduce that humidity by mopping up (or providing a drain for) "the water in the freezer section".

Then to even out humidity, without blasting things, I'd suggest a small (used, ex-computer) low voltage fan (maybe foam-mounted on a clean used tin can, or a bit of plastic drainpipe, as a duct) to stir the air inside your fridge. Because you don't want this running other than occasionally, I'd suggest running the fan via a "fat plug" transformer (safely outside the fridge) and connected via your "regulator" - so that when the cooler runs, the fan does too.

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

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I'm not familiar with the specific recipe you quote, but it seems likely to me that the cheesecloth would have the effect of raising the local humidity for the liver - so it didn't dry out too quickly.

That might be needed for a dryish, "airy" or even downright draughty drying environment... however... hmmm.

Cool, thanks for the feedback. The cheesecloth wasn't part of the recipe, and I think that may have compounded the high humidity problem as you noted.

Will look into getting a computer-fan hooked up so I can at least keep the humidity from settling in the nooks and crannies.

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Found this Meat Grinder on this site:

http://www2.northerntool.com/product-1/36989.htm

from the description and picture, I would buy this thingy anytime if I were to get into some serious Charcuterie business.

Peter - I'll vouch for this grinder. I've had one for about 4 years and it works flawlessly. A lot of power for a home unit. Also, it disassembles easily for quick clean up.

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Agreed.  I haven't tried the brined method from the book, but the few times I've

Anyway, this is my first post, and I come to you guys because...well, I have a mold problem.  I recently picked up a fullsize fridge to use for curing/drying meats, since I've been doing alot of guanciale recently, and wanted to expand the home curing operation to handle salami, other fermented sausages and the like.  At some point somebody pointed me at the Fergus Henderson "The Whole Beast" book and I decided I wanted to try the "Dried, Salted Pig's Liver" dish.  Everything went fine in the cure (2 weeks) and then I wrapped it in cheesecloth and laid it on the top rack of the new fridge (there's some guanciale hanging in the bottom area.  I have the fridge on a regulator so the temp is ~55 and the humidity is usually between 70-85%.  I assume this is because the regulator keeps the freezer section from ever actually coming to a full freeze, and thus the water in the freezer section causes humidity to travel down into the fridge compartment.

2) I paged through this thread, poking around for answers and I found pics of a fridge with a fan hooked up inside it.  Would that bring my humidity down, or just recirculate the same humid air?

Might try cracking the door open on the reefer,just a bit so some of the air escapes. Motor will run more but might keep humidty down.

I cure in a wall type kitchen cabinet in a basement darkroom, and control high humidity by cracking the door just a bit to lower it.

Bud

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Has anyone tried using an electric humidifier from a humidor? I know they come in various sizes/capacities, and allow a decent amount of control. It seems to me that humidity is a critical factor, and that the trial-and-error approach could end up destroying a lot of potentially good product. I've seen the small electric models for around $100, and considering how much the protein can cost, and how much time you invest in it, I am thinking it might be worth it. Of course, I no longer have room for the mini fridge I was planning on picking up since replacing its home with an industrial meat slicer!

gallery_56799_5407_14945.jpg

Edited by Chris Hennes (log)

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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After about 12 days of hanging, I saw a little spot of mold appear on each of of my pancetta (where the shape was messy and there were crevices for it). So, I took it down, sliced off and discarded the ends, and cooked up some for eating. It smelled tasty, so I figured it was safe.

Oh my god. This is better than bacon. This is better than anything. I never knew it could be this way.

That said, I'm glad I checked in on it once or twice a day, so I caught the mold as soon as it started. I think the problem is that the humidity got a bit too high for a few nights near the end (with just a little vicks cool-air humidifier near the window where the pancetta was hanging, I didn't have much control).

[Edited to add in the missing words 'bit' and 'high'.]

Edited by Habeas Brulee (log)
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After about 12 days of hanging, I saw a little spot of mold appear on each of of my pancetta (where the shape was messy and there were crevices for it). So, I took it down, sliced off and discarded the ends, and cooked up some for eating. It smelled tasty, so I figured it was safe.

Oh my god. This is better than bacon. This is better than anything. I never knew it could be this way.

That said, I'm glad I checked in on it once or twice a day, so I caught the mold as soon as it started. I think the problem is that the humidity got a too for a few nights near the end (with just a little vicks cool-air humidifier near the window where the pancetta was hanging, I didn't have much control).

Of course, checking on it twice a day can't help for contamination and humidity problems either :biggrin:

Martin Mallet

<i>Poor but not starving student</i>

www.malletoyster.com

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Of course, checking on it twice a day can't help for contamination and humidity problems either  :biggrin:

Well, it was hanging out in the open in my living room, so checking it just involved a quick glance and adjusting/refilling the humidifier as needed. It's not like I have an enclosed box for curing, and I didn't fondle the meat every time I checked it (though I sure was tempted!).

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After about 12 days of hanging, I saw a little spot of mold appear on each of of my pancetta (where the shape was messy and there were crevices for it). So, I took it down, sliced off and discarded the ends, and cooked up some for eating. It smelled tasty, so I figured it was safe.

Oh my god. This is better than bacon. This is better than anything. I never knew it could be this way.

That said, I'm glad I checked in on it once or twice a day, so I caught the mold as soon as it started. I think the problem is that the humidity got a too for a few nights near the end (with just a little vicks cool-air humidifier near the window where the pancetta was hanging, I didn't have much control).

What was the approximate temp and RH?

In any case, good to hear you've had your first revelatory experience with cured meat. Mine was with the first batch of guanciale that I made, and I haven't looked back since.

I'm not sure if it's a direct correlation, but I'm noticing alot more condensation in my fridge box now that I've added a fan. Not sure I want to leave the door ajar (my electric bill is high enough as is). Will probably see how the current batch of guanciale does with the current RH level (still around 75%). Do those humidor things lower the humidity, or just increase it? Would something like this do the trick? Or am I better off just trying the "crack the door" option first?

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The temperature was good, it stayed around 50-60 F, usually closer to 50. The humidity went as high as 80 a few nights, I think was the problem. I only have a simple humidifier, not a dehumidifier - so all it does is keep adding humidity, not adjust it to the right RH.

A dehumidifier might be nice. An electronic one that maintains the correct humidity would be ideal.

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Living in an apartment, curing/drying space is a problem. But I have found this nice six bottle wine storage/fridge with a digital thermostat for 9-15 C (48 - 60 F). Perfect temperature range, only slightly larger than my microwave and only costs USD 180. Add a small computer fan and I should be all set.

The brand is named Tann, made in China. They also make larger coolers and all are quite inexpensive. A medium sized one, 21 bottles, costs approx USD 400.

Link (in Swedish only - but there are pics):

Small:

http://www.vinkylar.se/sv/article/8/tann_sandhamn

Medium:

http://www.vinkylar.se/sv/article/1/tann_falsterbo

Edited by TheSwede (log)
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The temperature was good, it stayed around 50-60 F, usually closer to 50. The humidity went as high as 80 a few nights, I think was the problem. I only have a simple humidifier, not a dehumidifier - so all it does is keep adding humidity, not adjust it to the right RH.

A dehumidifier might be nice. An electronic one that maintains the correct humidity would be ideal.

Isn't a saturated salt solution supposed to be self regulating, ie absorb humidity if it goes above somewhere around 70% and release humidity if it goes below? Don't know how well that works if you have an massive overload of moisture, but it might be worth a try.

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salt solution works, but very slowly.

So just install a bowl of saturated salt solution in the bottom of the fridge and let it do its thing? Does it equalize at 70%, or lower? (I am seeing some recipes that call for ~45-50% RH) Edited by beerpork (log)
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salt solution works, but very slowly.

So just install a bowl of saturated salt solution in the bottom of the fridge and let it do its thing? Does it equalize at 70%, or lower? (I am seeing some recipes that call for ~45-50% RH)

That about it. The larger the surface area, the more efficient it will be.

From a patent application I found by Googling:

"A solution of sodium chloride will provide a relative humidity at about 74%. If the humidity starts to fall below 74%, the salt solution gives up water to form moisture in the air until the air reaches a relative humidity of 74%...On the other hand, if the moisture in the air around the present device rises above 74% relative humidity, the salt solution will pick up moisture from the air lowering the relative humidity to approximately 74%. A solution of sodium chloride with excess solid crystals of sodium chloride will provide a relative humidity of about 74%. "

http://www.patentalpha.com/accessories_cl0...ol_5936178.html

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Got to stress the importance of using a heap of damp salt -- not a 'solution'.

The dampness is your 'saturated solution'.

The heap is to make sure that even as moisture is absorbed, what is presented to the air remains pretty much a saturated solution.

A dish of liquid will stratify - with a dilute layer on top, floating on denser stuff.

The more dilute the surface, the higher humidity it'll try to equilibrate at.

And if you have condensate elsewhere, mop it up or otherwise get rid of it.

And make sure that the meat can't possibly drip into the salt! (No harm in keeping it fresh!)

Edited by dougal (log)

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

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I've been thinking about trying a DIY trick cigar afficionados have been using for years. A brick of rockwool soaked with a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol and distilled water should keep the humidity at a very stabile 71-72%. Has anyone tried this in their curing chambers?

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I've been thinking about trying a DIY trick cigar afficionados have been using for years.  A brick of rockwool soaked with a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol and distilled water should keep the humidity at a very stabile 71-72%.  Has anyone tried this in their curing chambers?

I will take a shot at it...... A cigar is pretty dry when you put it in and take it out. It doesn't change much...

A sausage (etc) is very moist when you put it in. Will the "brick" be able to absorb the moisture from the sausage as it goes from very moist to pretty dry???. It doesn't seem like the same mechanisim at play...You are keeping a cigar stable in moisture content vs drying a sausage(etc)..

Bud

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I've been thinking about trying a DIY trick cigar afficionados have been using for years.  A brick of rockwool soaked with a 50/50 mix of propylene glycol and distilled water should keep the humidity at a very stabile 71-72%.  Has anyone tried this in their curing chambers?

I will take a shot at it...... A cigar is pretty dry when you put it in and take it out. It doesn't change much...

A sausage (etc) is very moist when you put it in. Will the "brick" be able to absorb the moisture from the sausage as it goes from very moist to pretty dry???. It doesn't seem like the same mechanisim at play...You are keeping a cigar stable in moisture content vs drying a sausage(etc)..

Bud

That's a great point that I am guilty of forgetting about. It seems that do really do it right you need a way of doing a fair bit of dehumidification, in addition to adding in humidity. I wonder how much published research there is into the effect of humidity on the curing process. It seems like there is a wealth of anecdotal evidence, XX% is optimal, etc. but how much variation is OK? How much is beneficial? I think that for hams, for example, you want the temperature to vary over the year. Is the same true with humidity? I know there is no such thing as too much control, but how much control is enough? The engineer in me wants a humidity and temperature monitor as well as a device capable of increasing and decreasing both to a tight tolerance, but I have no idea if that is really necessary.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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