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Controlling air movement in curing chamber

indaswamp

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I usually make 5kg. batches when I make salami. 1-1.5kg. of fat; 4-3.5kg. lean meat...and it only takes about 30 minutes to chill to below 35*F in my freezer. If I go any longer than that, the fat will be too cold. If you are doing smaller batches I would expect it to take less time. If you are freezing for 1 hour, I would expect that to be too long...especially so with a small batch.

I don't bag the meat and fat, I keep a shelf empty for a meat lug to fit on and just pop it in the freezer. I check the temp in multiple spots and stir often for even cool down...
 

SmokinEdge

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All good information. I reviewed the Marianski book today while I was waiting for my kids to get out of school. I see and understand the fat smear issue that could potentially be a problem. I cannot say for certain that fat smear was not an issue with the first batch of Cacciatore, but with the batch of Fuet/curry photo shows good definition of the fat in the cut view and I'm pretty confident that is not the problem.

SmokinEdge - I've got a grinder that I bought and used a twenty years ago when I was making fresh sausages and only dreaming of making salami. I cannot buy or find replacement parts for this grinder branded "Maverick" though there is a different model still available on Amazon. I looked for replacement or larger grind size plates but they don't exist. The two plates that came with the grinder were 3mm and 6mm. For larger chunks of fat, I was hand cutting it to 8 - 10 mm and putting it into the mixer after everything else was ground. Regarding the sausage pricker - I used a needle and spent a good amount of time pricking my way around each link - probably 75+ holes per link. I did buy a sausage pricker - Amazon says it was delivered nine days ago. Apparently it came in a small package with some other item and got thrown out with the packaging because I never saw it.

BTW: If anybody has a recommendation for a meat grinder with 4 or so plates of appropriate size for sausage/salami making that can process 5 - 10 lbs. of meat relatively quickly, please post it up here. I've been considering something along the lines of this: amazon" style="max-width:120px"> ......but I'm a bit leery. I'm looking for a solid machine that will remain dependable for years to come. LEM products seem pretty good too, but don't rate satisfaction levels of other less expensive machines.

Thank you all for your consideration of this problem. I'm diving back into the deep end again tonight/tomorrow. I'm going to do just a 2.5 lb. mix, recipe TBD, check the temp of the meat/fat prior to processing to remove fat smear from the list of potential problems, and stuff it into hog casings so that I don't have to wait a month to find out things are still not correct.
When was the last time you sharpened the blade and plate? Fat smear isn’t necessarily about what the particle size is or looks like. A dull blade/plate will smear fat. If you don’t know what you are looking for you might not notice. I’m not pushing this idea, but something is up with moisture traveling from center to the outside Without a pronounced dry ring. That tells me it’s not about high air flow, or humidity. Moisture is not leaving the center of the chub but not blocked, visually at the rind. Fat smear coats the inside of the casing disrupting moisture flow out, and holds moisture in, stopping the dry ring. It’s something in the process not the components, I’m thinking.
 

Mmmm Meat

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Good video choice. That is one of the R&R vids I hadn't watched. Surprising that smear can happen when the fat is too cold. Counterintuitive for sure and I still don't understand why that situation could occur. It seems like the fat would retain the characteristics we desire during the grind. No need to overthink it at this point - just another variable to monitor.

As far as my chamber load and cycling - I monitored it a bit while I was replacing my cardboard shielding with plastic today. I'm currently at 9 Kg load plus or minus. I never actually got through a full cooling cycle while I was in and out of the chamber while swapping out my shielding, but the cycling times I reported were incorrect, though I still don't know exactly what the real number is. I watched it for a full thirty minutes after a cooling cycle today before I opened it to start changing out the shielding around the meat. Weirdly, the temperature drops to 53.5 degrees F a few minutes after the cooling cycle ended, then gradually rises to around 55.9 degrees. Then, for reasons I don't understand, the temp. goes back own to 55.1 degrees, where it hovers for awhile until gradually rising again to 56 degrees, which triggers the next cooling cycle. For sure, the cycle is over 30 minutes, or two cooling cycles per hour, though I have no idea what the real number is - perhaps two cycles every 90 minutes?. Clearly it has morphed over time as I've continued to add product to the chamber.
 

Mmmm Meat

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When was the last time you sharpened the blade and plate? Fat smear isn’t necessarily about what the particle size is or looks like. A dull blade/plate will smear fat. If you don’t know what you are looking for you might not notice. I’m not pushing this idea, but something is up with moisture traveling from center to the outside Without a pronounced dry ring. That tells me it’s not about high air flow, or humidity. Moisture is not leaving the center of the chub but not blocked, visually at the rind. Fat smear coats the inside of the casing disrupting moisture flow out, and holds moisture in, stopping the dry ring. It’s something in the process not the components, I’m thinking.
I think you are probably right. As you and SmokinEdge pointed out, there's not a very obvious dry ring around the circumference. The problem likely lies outside the airflow across/around the chubs. I have never sharpened the grinder plate and blade. They've sat in storage for at least 12 years since the last time I used the grinder. I'll look at that too before attempting another batch. I was planning on starting one tonight but couldn't come up with an easy cut of lean pork in my freezers. No rush at this point. I'll re-evaluate the entire process and look for other situations that may be affecting my results. Thank you all again for your help and ideas.
 

indaswamp

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Clearly it has morphed over time as I've continued to add product to the chamber.
More thermal mass...unit takes longer to rise in temp.

The weird temp. readings are likely due to your dehumidifier. It creates heat as it runs pulling moisture out. And once it reaches set point it shuts off. The meat hanging then cools the air through heat sink affect....
 

Domie

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I can't add anything to the info posted as to the cause but I can say that the comment from Indaswamp about slicing and vac sealing the product to allow equalization, works. I just had a product reach moisture loss specs too quickly and I cut it to find dry rim and a mushy center. I sliced the whole thing at 4.5 on the slicer (3/16) and put back in the chamber for a day or so then laid them flat and vac sealed them.. Saved the product! A bit tough on the edges but still a viable product.... live and learn!
No dogs here to help out so I won't waste it...lol
 

SmokinEdge

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There may be some useful information in this video About grinding the meat and fat.
 

Mmmm Meat

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More thermal mass...unit takes longer to rise in temp.

The weird temp. readings are likely due to your dehumidifier. It creates heat as it runs pulling moisture out. And once it reaches set point it shuts off. The meat hanging then cools the air through heat sink affect....
That makes perfect sense.
 

Mmmm Meat

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There may be some useful information in this video About grinding the meat and fat.
Great video. I believe that my beat up old plates and grinder knife are a very likely source of my problem. I cannot get replacement parts for my grinder, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy a new grinder.

Any suggestions?? I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer but the grinder attachment for that seems like it is not really meant for 10 lb grinds. I might be wrong about that....
Thanks
 
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SmokinEdge

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Great video. I believe that my beat up old plates and grinder knife are a very likely source of my problem. I cannot get replacement parts for my grinder, so I guess I'll have to bite the bullet and buy a new grinder.

Any suggestions?? I have a Kitchenaid stand mixer but the grinder attachment for that seems like it is not really meant for 10 lb grinds. I might be wrong about that....
Thanks
It is very easy to spend other people’s money and attach my value to a given product.
That said, I would recommend a grinder with stainless steel parts. No aluminum! No plastic either. Also at minimum a #8 size, as this controls throat size. Anything smaller is just a PITA to feed meat through, especially if you are double grinding.
A grinder made in a commercial style will allow you to buy plates and knives from various sources. This allows you access to very high quality knives and plates as well as a never ending supply. #8, 10, 12 etc.. I like to have a knife dedicated to each plate. This allows them to wear in together making for a much better grind over time. One knife and 4 plates is a bad idea.
All of this ends up costing more money, but in the end is all very valuable to me, and I see the difference in the final product. Many people get buy with the KA attachment, I have one. Not impressed.
I do run a LEM Big Bite in #8 with Salvinox plates and knives. This is a solid set up for home made sausage. I wish I had the #12 just for the throat size, but the #8 works fine and eats meat as fast as I can feed it. Cabelas’s Carnivore series is pretty decent too from what I can tell. Hope this helps.
 

indaswamp

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^^^^well said. I have the LEM #12 and I would not go smaller after using a #12....
 

Mmmm Meat

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I bought a LEM Big Bite #8. That should be plenty for me. Thanks for the great input. Where should I shop for additional grinder knives and different size grinder plates?

BTW - I think I got a really good price on the grinder for anybody else that might be shopping for one:
 
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SmokinEdge

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I bought a LEM Big Bite #8. That should be plenty for me. Thanks for the great input. Where should I shop for additional grinder knives and different size grinder plates?

BTW - I think I got a really good price on the grinder for anybody else that might be shopping for one:
Heck of a good deal on that grinder. You will be pleased.
https://www.lemproducts.com/category/butcher-grinder-plates
 

Mmmm Meat

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Thank you both again for your help. I'm in a holding pattern on making any more salami till the grinder arrives. I did order three more blades and a 6mm plate. That should keep me going for awhile .
 

SmokinEdge

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Thank you both again for your help. I'm in a holding pattern on making any more salami till the grinder arrives. I did order three more blades and a 6mm plate. That should keep me going for awhile .
Nice. Now that that is taken care of, question.
Did you stuff those salami with a dedicated stuffer, or did you use the grinder to stuff?
 

indaswamp

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Seems I've just assumed M&M was using a stuffer....great point SmokinEdge! IMO a dedicated sausage stuffer is mandatory for salami making. You can get by without one for regular fresh and smoke sausage, but there is just too much risk for overworking the fat using a grinder to stuff salami.
 

Mmmm Meat

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Dedicated stuffer - seven pound vertical, though I'm looking forward to stuffing fresh sausage with the grinder - less cleanup, more happiness.
 

SmokinEdge

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Dedicated stuffer - seven pound vertical, though I'm looking forward to stuffing fresh sausage with the grinder - less cleanup, more happiness.
Just be sure to use the stuffer plate. looks like 3 kidneys, not a grinding plate.
 

Robert H

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Gotta have the stuffer. There are a lot of different brands that do the same thing.....some maybe better than others. I have a LEM 15lb stuffer, best money I ever spent on my meat addiction. I have an old General model D grinder that I got at an auction for 50 bucks maybe 30 yrs ago. Great little grinder, but it does not stuff well. Some grinders do stuff well from what I have read but I will never regret getting the LEM.
 

Robert H

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Has your new grinder arrived? I have seen a lot of great reviews of it. Looking forward to seeing your next project.
 

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