I am attempting a trial run to make Venison summer sausage with a cold smoking process in Northern Arizona. I made a sample cold smoker that worked quite well. The "fire box" is a two drawer file cabinet with an electric hot plate and the "smoke house" is a cardboard moving wardrobe box (20"X24"by50") connected to the firebox with a 6" stove pipe. (pictures available on request).The box holds 21-( 1.75" X 24") sausages easily. After smoking, I left the sausage hanging in the box to "cure".
This is where my plan went "south". I cut some windows for air flow and and covered them with cheese cloth, I even left the covered flap down for extra ventilation. I also added 2 large coffee cans of water inside for moisture because we have a low humidity. My instructions were to keep the internal box temperature under 60 degrees. the temperature was kept between 55 and 32 degrees with the help of another large can of ice cubes and a frozen gallon jug of water. I never saw any information as to humidity requirements.
Everything looked great the first week. The second week showed a lot of shrinkage, but looked great. I became aware that it was drying to rapidly during the third week. I cut a sample during the third week noticing it was firm on the outer portion and very raw in the middle. I have been told if its too hard on the outside it will turn hollow. I was told to seal the box to cut down the air flow and keep the water inside. It may be too late for this run.
My 2 questions are: could a small (gallon) humidifier work to fill the humidity gap. and what level should the humidity be maintained? My family in Missouri never seems to have the problem.