Saucisson Sec drying too fast despite high humidity

Discussion in 'Curing' started by aram, Oct 28, 2015.

  1. Hi guys!

    new to the forum here and to making dry cured sausages. i've been meaning to start curing my own sausages but due to a lack of time and funds to invest in a fridge i didn't start until recently. when i finally got together all the equipment and ingredients and having decided to keep it simple i opted for a standard dry cured saucisson sec with pork, garlic, and green peppercorns (salt and curing salt and starter culture). 

    Everything was going great the first few days, i was hitting my humidity for the most part and the temperature started off at 20C & 90% RH for 48 hours then dropped down to 15C & 85% RH, the pH dropped to around 5 and i started seeing nice white mold development on the outside and it was losing weight (a little fast but i didn't think much of it because i figured it'll lose a lot in the first few days and it will eventually taper off and hit that 30-35% mark and we'll be good to go).

    now it's been about 10 days. a couple of days ago green mold appeared which i got rid off with a bit of vinegar and dropped my humidity to 80%. Now the reason why i'm posting is because despite a relatively high humidity and short hanging time the saucissons have all lost more than 30% of their starting weight but they still feel soft all the way through. i cut one open just to see what's going on and it was still raw in the center (but not rancid). I added a digital hygrometer to monitor humidity and it was fairly consistent with my controller: 75-80% RH. 

    Should i not stress too much about weight loss and focus more on letting them dry for at least 3-4 weeks at a lower humidity (70-75%). What's more important? Weight change from weight measured at stuffing VS standard time of 3-4 weeks to takes to cure? 

    Sorry for the long post but im completely new at this and i cant make sense of whats happening or what i should do. also i have a coppa that's curing and need to get my act together when the times comes to dry it :) 

    and last but not least, i live in Lebanon (the middle eastern country) where getting this stuff shipped to from the US gets a little expensive so any help will be highly appreciated. i'd hate to throw out a batch but will have to if it doesn't look safe. i'll provide pictures soon. 

    Thanks a lot!
  2. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I assume you used small hog casings. They will dry faster. I wouldn't expect 4 weeks drying time for 30%. 3 weeks makes more sense.

    Do you see dry rim ? If not let it rip. 30% is a guideline...let it dry until it feels right.

    I pulled mine last year before 30%...this year could be different
  3. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    The thickness of the sausage plays a role. 32-38mm is going to dry faster than something around 50mm. What did you use...JJ
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

  5. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I keep my humidity between 80-85% and temp at 50-55f (10-13c)

    this might help as a reference.
    I have a bresaola that I just pulled out of the chamber, at 10 days it lost 16% and it was close to 4" (100mm) in diameter.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2015
  6. I'm using beef rounds - i checked them yesterday and they were at 40% but they still feel soft. i cut into one and it seemed raw but didn't smell rancid but i was afraid to try it. 
    Beef rounds that are around 38mm. I'm at 40% and its only been two weeks! 
    Just a tiny bit to mix my starter in - it couldn't have been more than 100mL. My humidity has been right around 80-85% this entire time. The only time it drops to around 75% for a few seconds is when the fan turns on to push the cold air from the coil. It shoots right back up to 85 in less than a minute and stays there for at least 5 minutes before the fan turns on again. 

    I will try increasing the hysteresis of my temperature controller and have the fridge turn on and off less often. Maybe that drop to 75% is doing more damage than I think.
    I'm gonna try controlling my humidity a little better.

    I have a coppa with the same diameter that's about to go into the drying chamber soon. I'll monitor what happens and do a post about it. 

    General Question: will it do more good or harm to add a little computer fan in the fridge? Maybe that'll help balance the temp and humidity throughout the fridge. There's a few degrees difference in humidity between the readings of my controller sensor and the stand alone hygrometer i have in there. 
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2015
  7. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Aram, morning...... OK, so you added about 100 mls or 100 grams of water to the meat for the starter... That is excess moisture that was not originally in the meat....

    Subtract the 100 grams from the initial weight after assembly of the product... That initial weight cannot be used to determine % weight loss... Initial weight - 100 grams will be the new initial weight... determine % weight loss from that number.... OR, do your best to determine how much water you used for the starter... refill the cup or bowl to duplicate what you did when mixing it...

    I hope that makes sense...
  8. Thanks Dave. Taking the added water into account, it only makes a difference of a few percentage points which have been accounted for now. Even now, i'm surprised that it dried so fast. It's been 15 days. I managed to take some pictures so please let me know what you think in terms of color (its not as red as I thought it would be - still see some pink around the center) and consistency.

    And finally, I gave it a taste test because it didn't smell rancid and didn't look like there's anything funky happening. It didn't taste raw and in fact was quite good but still not quite convinced especially with the consistency. Shouldn't it be harder given all the water it's lost by now?  I'd like to hear what you guys can tell me from the pictures.

    if anyone has any experience with casings sticking to the meat and the possibility of adding a computer fan to balance the humidity and temp in the drying chamber i'd like to hear your thoughts on that as well. 

    Thanks again!
  9. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Saucisson sec should feel harder indeed. Having said that ...your product looks good. My smoked/cured sausage has a similar consistency when I pull it. I would eat it if I were you. You could let it further dry if it makes you uncomfortable.
  10. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    It does look light but the Nose and Tongue can tell a different story. One thing I have learned is the amount of Cure and Ingredients for a particular variety of sausage is absolute...BUT...Meat has a mind of it's own and, for the most part, Guidlines of Time to Internal Temp or Time Drying, Weight Loss and so forth, are just guide posts along the route, a point to go look at it. Meat could go long, fast or do something completely unexpected. Eat some, let the rest go a couple more days and test again...JJ
  11. Thanks atomicsmoke & Chef JimmyJ! I had another piece last night and it tasted fine. As far as texture is concerned, im not too happy so i might let it dry a little more like you both suggest. i'm gonna fine tune my drying chamber temperature and humidity with a computer fan cs i don't think i'm getting consistent readings throughout the chamber. 

    I'll report back in a few days and see if the color and texture improve. 
  12. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That outer dark ring looks to be case hardening, that tells me its drying to fast. It will restrict the moisture in the center from getting out. But this is caused by either to low a humidity or to much air flow, or both, which you say you don't have, so not sure what to tell ya.
    I'd avoid the fan, just open the door once or twice a day should give you enough air changes, and check your humidistat against another one if you can, to see if its accurate
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
  13. The fridge i'm using is one of those vertical coolers with the glass door. There's a relatively big fan at the top that blows cold dry/air from the cooling plate directly onto the product but it's only on for 30-45 seconds once every 5 minutes or so. The humidity drops down to about 70-75% and shoots right  up to 85% in a minute or so. Do you think this explains why i'm getting case hardening, if in fact that is even the case - but sure looks like it now that DanMcG mentions it. However, this still doesn't account for the quick weight loss. I'm gonna look for ways to lower air flow and have the fan turn on/off less often.
  14. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Un plug the fan..... Case hardening and weight loss is what it is causing.... Maybe you can hook up a small computer type fan in it's place...
  15. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    find something to divert the air flow so it is not blowing on the product, that may help with the outer case hardening issue.
  16. I checked how the fan works and it turns out it sucks warm air from the chamber, sends it over the cooling plate, and then out a channel through the back end of the fridge back into the chamber. I'm afraid if i completely unplug the fan the cold air won't circulate. I increased the hysteresis on my temperature controller to 3°C so it'll turn on less often (on at 15°C and off at 12°C).

    I added a perforated stainless steel sheet on the top shelf to lower air flow. We'll see how the temp and humidity react. 

    Coppa going in today!
  17. danmcg

    danmcg Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'm interested in how your mods work Aram, I had the same issue with the first run of my new chamber and was thinking along the same lines
  18. Dan,

    I'm not sure what you mean by mods?

    Here's what my set up looks like if this helps
    There's a huge difference between the readings on the humidity controler and the hygrometer which is why I wanted to add a smal fan to get the air moving and hopefully balance it out throughout.
    This is the perforated plate. It's helping with lowering air flow.

    And this is after the compressor turns on.
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2015
  19. atomicsmoke

    atomicsmoke Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Impressive setup.
  20. thanks! but it's useless if it doesn't work right [​IMG]

    Here's the coppa. Went in yesterday and got a spray of mold. holding temps at 25C for 24 hours to encourage mold growth then dropping it down to 12-15C.

    initial weight on 08/11/2015: 2384g


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