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I am looking at building a drying chamber for cured meats. It would have basic humidity and temperature control. I had a question about the environment inside the chamber as I am trying to figure out what controls I feel like building.

Is there ever a time that the humidity would have to be raised? My assumption is that once the chamber is sealed, and a closed system is formed, thehumiditywould rise above the desired 70-90%RH, and it would only have to be controlled in a downward direction. Does anyone know if this is a correct assumption? It would save me having to build a water injection system.

I will make sure to do a build log and code for anyone who is interested.

Thank you,

Joshua

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jfkriege said:

I am looking at building a drying chamber for cured meats. It would have basic humidity and temperature control. I had a question about the environment inside the chamber as I am trying to figure out what controls I feel like building.



Is there ever a time that the humidity would have to be raised? My assumption is that once the chamber is sealed, and a closed system is formed, thehumiditywould rise above the desired 70-90%RH, and it would only have to be controlled in a downward direction. Does anyone know if this is a correct assumption? It would save me having to build a water injection system.



I will make sure to do a build log and code for anyone who is interested.



Thank you,

Joshua





Hi Joshua. First of all, I would recommend still using an RH sensor. The moisture/quantity of the food as well as air circulation will affect your outcome.
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Actually, I am very interested in building general low-ish temp 'oven' for smoking (inject smoke from something like a bradley smoke generator). I was also figuring temp, RH control and wondered about bringing up humidity. If it could run as high as 60 C or so, it could be used for SV-type applications as well. I'd be very interested in a build log and any information on your success. We need to open source this!

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  • 7 years later...

Bumping this thread up because I have a question. I am contemplating buying a dorm-room-sized refrigerator for use as a drying chamber for meats. I know, or think I know, I can't get one to hold at optimum temp for drying; it will be cooler, I will have to augment the humidity, perhaps with the addition of a cup of water in the bottom. 

 

Will the cooler temp adversely affect the drying process? Will it take more time, or less, to cure? (Doesn't matter, but would be good to know.) Are there any big reasons this method would NOT work?

 

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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5 minutes ago, kayb said:

Will the cooler temp adversely affect the drying process?

Your bacterial growth rate will be much lower at lower temperatures, so I think the danger is that you will have inadequate fermentation in the time it takes to achieve your desired weight loss. You might want to look into the various commercial solutions out there for controlling the temperature of a refrigerator to a higher setpoint than the refrigerator itself is designed for (or you can DIY, of course). And my experience was that over a large portion of the drying process the natural humidity in the chamber tends to be too high, not too low (though I had my curing fridge pretty full).

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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5 dollar timer. Cycle the refrigerator on one hour  and off for maybe 4 hours. It's not going to be super precise, but, imo, curing isn't sous vide- you're replicating a cellar environment and while cellar temps tend to be relatively stable, they fluctuate a bit. For 5 bucks, it's worth trying.

 

Edit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07F6XJXBB/ref=dp_prsubs_2

 

This will go down to 1 minute intervals.  1 minute will damage the compressor, but there will be a setting low enough to keep the temperature relatively stable that doesn't damage the refrigerator.  10, maybe 20 minutes might be a happy place.

Edited by scott123 (log)
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1 hour ago, kayb said:

Will the cooler temp adversely affect the drying process? Will it take more time, or less, to cure? (Doesn't matter, but would be good to know.) Are there any big reasons this method would NOT work?

 

After initial fermentation (when applicable)— I 'cure' at relatively low temperatures...40° to 45° and ~80% relative humidity.

I learned the technique from "The British Butcher" Robert Goodrick.

Robert is a respected professional and a great guy!

Pros: Longer curing leads to better flavors and there's MUCH less chance of case hardening—which is an extremely important and welcome benefit! No issues with humidity control.

Cons: It takes longer!

 

I STONGLY recommend a mini chest freezer over a mini fridge—you'll avoid a lot of headaches.

My mini freezers are GE, I don't have any experience with other brands.

Among other issues, the main issue with mini fridges is the tiny freezer inside where water can condense and drip.

I use the temperature and humidity control system from Perfect Cheese.

https://www.perfect-cheese.com/total-conditioning-package

It permits both humidifying AND dehumidifying via one pound of food safe silica gel.

I've never had to humidify in a mini chest freezer when curing at low temperatures—only dehumidify.

I've never had a failed batch.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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As Martin said, curing at lower temps is fine, and often done by a number of chefs to meet food safety guidelines.

Controlling humidity is a bit tricky with dorm fridges. It's going to want to run high because they don't efficiently dry/remove the moisture while cooling. That'll be your challenge.

 

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On 1/7/2019 at 1:59 PM, DiggingDogFarm said:

...dehumidifying via one pound of food safe silica gel.

 

Some info here: https://www.perfect-cheese.com/high-humidity

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Appreciate everyone's input. I'm soaking up all the info.

 

A full pound of silica dessicant to dehumdify a dorm fridge? Is there a rule of thumb on how much dessicant per cubic foot of space and/or pound of product? I'd have no idea where to even begin with amounts.

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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On 1/8/2019 at 6:18 PM, kayb said:

A full pound of silica dessicant to dehumdify a dorm fridge? Is there a rule of thumb on how much dessicant per cubic foot of space and/or pound of product? I'd have no idea where to even begin with amounts.

 

I use one pound of food safe silica gel in a 5 cubic foot chest freezer. 

One pound was the most cost effective amount I could get via ebay at the time of purchase.

I didn't do any special calculating in terms of cubic feet and such.

I don't think it's possible, there are too many variables to consider—too little food safe desiccant is the biggest potential problem, IMO.

With my set-up, the humidity controller starts a fan when the humidity rises above target.

The fan —a 12v PC fan—blows air through the food safe silica gel 'pillow' thus lowering the humidity in the chamber.

The food safe silica gel is dried in a very slow oven or dehydrator—usually, every few days. 

Not a big deal.

I don't cure huge batches.

Desiccant drying frequency will vary depending on several factors—amount of product being cured, type of product, relative humidity, etc.

This system is much more sensible than a compressor based dehumidifier.

 

HTH

 

 

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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2 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

This system is much more sensible than a compressor based dehumidifier.

Another option (the one I use) is that if you expect the area outside the refrigerator to be lower humidity than your target the majority of the time, a fan that just pulls air out of the fridge does the trick as well. Probably not suited to Florida, but it works great in Oklahoma. Of course, it involved drilling a hole in the fridge...

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Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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2 hours ago, DiggingDogFarm said:

 

I use one pound of food safe silica gel in a 5 cubic foot chest freezer. 

One pound was the most cost effective amount I could get via ebay at the time of purchase.

I didn't do any special calculating in terms of cubic feet and such.

I don't think it's possible, there are too many variables to consider—too little food safe desiccant is the biggest potential problem, IMO.

With my set-up, the humidity controller starts a fan when the humidity rises above target.

The fan —a 12v PC fan—blows air through the food safe silica gel 'pillow' thus lowering the humidity in the chamber.

The food safe silica gel is dried in a very slow oven or dehydrator—usually, every few days. 

Not a big deal.

I don't cure huge batches.

Drying frequency will vary depending on several factors—amount of product being cured, type of product, relative humidity, etc.

This system is much more sensible than a compressor based dehumidifier.

 

HTH

 

 

OK. That makes sense. 

29 minutes ago, Chris Hennes said:

Another option (the one I use) is that if you expect the area outside the refrigerator to be lower humidity than your target the majority of the time, a fan that just pulls air out of the fridge does the trick as well. Probably not suited to Florida, but it works great in Oklahoma. Of course, it involved drilling a hole in the fridge...

Ain't gonna work in the Delta in Arkansas, either! Well, I guess it would in the winter.

 

 

Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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I guess this is the wrong thread to post how I made my guanciale (it's basically done, but I'll leave it on my balcony for a day or two before I decide what to do with it... beside carbonara and Amatriciana)... xD

Susara.jpg

 

ETA it has survived quite adverse conditions with regard to humidity, which rarely dropped below 85% over three weeks it's been hung... 

Edited by Wolf (log)
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A cigarette is the perfect type of a perfect pleasure. It is exquisite, and it leaves one unsatisfied. What more can one want?  - Oscar Wilde

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25 minutes ago, Wolf said:

I guess this is the wrong thread to post how I made my guanciale (it's basically done, but I'll leave it on my balcony for a day or two before I decide what to do with it... beside carbonara and Amatriciana)... xD

 

 

I come from a cheese background where the cleanliness of your curing environment is mostly like far more critical, but, outdoors feels a little dirty to me.  Not that the caves or root cellars that have been historically used were clean, but, I don't know, it is the 21st century.  I would sleep better after giving the insides of my mini fridge a nice sanitizing wash, but, that's me :) And, like I said, I'm much more cheese-y.

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3 hours ago, Wolf said:

I guess this is the wrong thread to post how I made my guanciale (it's basically done, but I'll leave it on my balcony for a day or two before I decide what to do with it... beside carbonara and Amatriciana)... xD

 

 

ETA it has survived quite adverse conditions with regard to humidity, which rarely dropped below 85% over three weeks it's been hung... 

 

I grew up on fried pies made from apples and peaches dried on a white sheet on the roof of the wellhouse for several days, not to mention hams and bacon hung in the smokehouse over the winter. 

 

All that said, I couldn't cure meat in a smokehouse now because it's not cold enough in the winter.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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20 hours ago, kayb said:

...not to mention hams and bacon hung in the smokehouse over the winter. 

 

Yes, in addition to the hams and bacon—my father's family let deer hang all winter (cutting off a hunk when they wanted it.)

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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On 1/9/2019 at 7:15 AM, DiggingDogFarm said:

...one pound of food safe silica gel...

 

@kayb

I just looked back at the orders!

I was wrong! GASP!!!

It's 500 grams of food safe silica gel—so, 1 pound, 1.636 ounces, if I calculated correctly.

I bought three of them (1500 grams total) back in 2014 for $13.40 total per 500 grams—$40.20

I had two curing chambers operating at that time.

 

ETA: I keep an extra dry 500 gram 'pillow' so I can immediately replace the 'saturated' one with a dry one.

That way, there's always a desiccant 'pillow' in the chamber.

Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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Here is an ultrasonic  humidifier I made for my hot/cold smoker.

The noise you are hearing is from another machine running in the background. Remember, you can't hear ultra sound.  :-)

The water looks like it's boiling, but it's actually ice cold.

 

dcarch

Edited by dcarch (log)
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  • 4 weeks later...

@kayb Are you still considering this?

I plan to get mine up and running in the not too distant future.

I'll document it, if there's interest.

 

I won't be curing anything fancy.

I'm past the fun phase of curing "stuff" from all over the world.

Now, it'll mostly be Appalachian stuff and other basics—simple stuff.

I have too many irons in the fire and a loss of interest in "fancy."

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~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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For anyone who's interested, I gave my oven a shot at curing cheese.  After heating and cooling, the number of microorganisms are lower than anywhere else in the house, and I was hoping the small vent would allow for some drying but, alas, I saw just about no drying at all.

 

I might give desiccant a shot, but my underlying motivation is minimal cost, and the desiccant  pushes that envelope.

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