Drying Sausage in Basement?

Discussion in 'Sausage' started by jack and coke, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. Hi,

    I don't post much on here, but I truly enjoy reading this forum and have learned so much information.  For the past 2 years I have been making sausage now with my friends and family. 

    The real question:

    One day I was wondering about drying sausage.  I looked into making a refrigerator cabinet to incubate and dry sausage.  I realized I don't have the room for another fridge. Then I was thinking of my basement.....  I live in a very old house and the cellar is not re-finished.  It is completely underground.  There are no windows or anything.  This basement relatively keeps the same temperature all year around.  Then it dawned on me maybe I could use my basement for the drying stage of sausage. 

    I have been doing my research with the cultures, cures, relative humidity and temperatures.  Here are the averages of the last 7 days of the temperature and relative humidity in my cellar.

    Temperature: 50 F

    Relative Humidity: 75% 

    With the above mentioned numbers do you think this is possible?  Any input would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you so much.

    I know drying sausage has been going on for thousands of years and those people had no scientific knowledge of how the process works.  Finally,  I have 2 old Italian grandparents who dry some of the sausage that they make.  It is simply raw pork, casings, salt, pepper and then the sausage is placed in the fridge to dry.  No cures, no cultures and no health problems have ever become from this.

    Any information, inputs, advice would be great. 

    Thank you

    jack and coke
  2. pops6927

    pops6927 Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Jack and Coke!

    Thank you for your posts and someone need to know some specifics about your basement.  Temperature variance from hi to low and same with humidity, then you can see if the figures line up with a curing cabinet's.

    You can get thermometers that will record the high temp and low temp and same with humidity from the last reset of the therm so you can monitor the variances quite easily.

    in the meantime, if you would kindly stop into Roll Call and introduce yourself, tell us of your experiences and post some Qview of your equipment and allow us to welcome you properly to the forum, it would be much appreciated!
  3. solaryellow

    solaryellow Limited Mod Group Lead

    What you have measured looks pretty good. Another 5 degrees would be ideal for drying.
  4. thank you guys.  

    i'm going to research more too.
  5. bratrules

    bratrules Smoking Fanatic

    57 degrees and 75 humidity would be perfect if you can get your basement to that temp. am going to envy you lol. you could add a tiny heater just to bump up those temps a bit. then the skies the limit!! of course at those temps you cant ferment sausage you would need a higher temp and a higher humidity.
  6. this would be pretty cool if i could manage it from my basement.  i think that a small heater would be clutch bc theres even a smaller off of my basement that would even take less to heat.  sort of like a small walk in closet.  

    thank you for all the help
  7. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I am not an expert on dry curing, yet [​IMG], but I hardly think 5 Degrees will make a Big difference...Adding a heater can throw off the humidity you all ready have...My Grandfather had a similar setup...Dirt floor underground cellar...Coppa and Salami hanging from the rafters and casks of wine fermenting on the floor...Here is some more detail...JJ

    A setup for curing meat is really just making a small area with the right environmental conditions.

    These conditions are temperature, humidity, and air flow.

    In order to make a decent (and safe) product you need some way of controlling all three – or at least keeping them within a certain range. Lets look at each element separately, and see what we can do to control it.

    temperature: a safe temperature range for curing meat is below 60F. Above that and bacteria grows a lot faster. Ideally you want the temperature between 50F and 60F. Below 50F and the curing process slows down a great deal, making the process take much, much longer (which also means it takes much much longer for your charcuterie to reach a safe water content level, but that is getting a bit geeky). Most likely you are going to find that you will have to cool and area to get it to 60F rather than heat it.

    humidity: for most of the curing you want the humidity between 70% and 75%. Below 70% and you run the risk of the outside of your salami/meat drying out too fast, which means moisture is trapped on the inside, leading to spoilage. If the humidity is really high for too long then the sausage wont dry correctly, and you run the risk of getting a lot of bad mold on the charcuterie.

    Ideally when you first put something in to dry cure, you want the humidity at around 85%, and then over the course of the next week you want to drop the humidity down to 75%. The reasoning here is that you want your humidity just a bit less than the water content of the meat you are curing – this stops the meat drying out too fast and developing case hardening. At the start of curing the meat has a lot of moisture in it (especially leaner cuts), so you want your curing humidity to almost match that. As the meat looses water you drop the humidity down accordingly (or roughly anyhow).

    Typically we find that most areas in a house aren’t this humid, unless you have a cold, dank basement. Often enough we find ourselves having to add extra humidity to a space to make it perfect.

    air flow: some air flow is critical in not only helping to dry the meat (pulling moisture away from the surface of the sausage), but it also really helps keep bad mold (green, black and fury mold) off the meat too – since there isn’t stagnant damp air constantly around the sausage. In practical terms this can just mean fanning the meat a couple of times a day, or setting up a low powered fan to blow a little air around.

    Full Source: http://mattikaarts.com/blog/charcuterie/meat-curing-at-home-the-setup/

    Ruhlman is even more extreme... http://ruhlman.com/2011/02/meat-curing-safety-issues/
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  8. My unheated enclosed porch stays the proper temperature this time of year.
    I use 120 quart Coleman coolers stood up on end as curing chambers.
    I use a damp dishcloth for the humidity. Open it every couple days for air exchange.
    Super simple, no fuss.


    I use a cigar humidor hydrometer.

    HygroSet II Round Digital Hygrometer for Humidors.....

    You can calibrate it with some salt saturated water inside a small container.

    Calibrating a hydrometer.....

    In addition to the thermometer that's on the hydrometer I keep an instant read thermometer (also calibratable) in a cup of water for a running average temp. I got Cooper instant read pocket thermometers at Sam's Club, pack of 2 for about $7.00

    Calibrating an instant read thermometer....
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012
  9. bratrules

    bratrules Smoking Fanatic

    Remember if you are going to want to make fermented sausage your going to need higher heat and higher humidity. there are a lot of good sources for info online. am sure you can rig up something pretty cheap.
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2012

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