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Curing Chamber Build

golfpro2301

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Hey All,

Looking to get into sausage making. Since Kid came along I sold all the competition BBQ stuff and need to find another hobby. I want to build own curing chamber and had a few questions for those that may know.

1. I am looking at mini fridge or use wine cooler. For the wine cooler that have two zone and thermostat in middle will they work? Is the middle shelf a pass thru shelf or solid to regulate upper and lower temps?

2. I live in Florida and noticed a few builds have both a humidifier and a dehumidifier. Is this necessary for Florida climate? Reason I ask is this would call for two separate controllers. Of course if I find a single zone wine fridge that has temp range 45-60 I can use a single controller.

3. For the humidifier I noticed a few being outside the fridge and then piped into. I was thinking of doing this if I went with a mini fridge to save space. Are there any that are better for this than others?

4. Is a fan on inside required? Want to make sure the air circulation doesnt cause case hardening but I imagine the proper humidity will take care of that.

5. What is better controller? Inkbird or Auber?
 

golfpro2301

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Changed title to curing chamber build as I just started mine. My sister had an unused small deep freezer that wasnt being used so I took it off her hands for $50. Purchased inkbird wifi temp and humidity controllers along with a few micro humidity monitors. Have everything plugged in right now to see how it fluctuates.

TEMP - I originally had temp set at 55* with a 3* offset. Once hit 58* compressor kicked on and did its thing. Once at 55* it cut off but temp dropped all the way to 50* and few times to 49*. I guess this is benefit of a well insulated freezer. I adjusted offset to 2* and now it drops to around 52*. I found an old heating element I used for an electric smoker I no longer have. I put that in but kept tripping the breaker. My question is should I use a separate outlet and utilize the heating element or forget it and just use the freezer and roll with the 52-58 temp?

HUMIDITY - I live in Jacksonville Florida where humidity is crazy. At 55* the humidity inside is 84%. I know I need a small dehumidifier but do you think I can get away without a humidifier?

DESIGN - In order to preserve the freezer and not run risk of hitting a tube when drilling through I am going to install a 2x4 collar similar to those used on a keezer. I will then run all holes through this and will mount shelving brackets to it to support both controller and an external humidifier if it is needed. I plan to paint the collar with chalkboard paint and use that to label what is on inside as well as start/target weight

Keezer Collar.PNG


I will also mount dowel rod supports on the inside of the collar. Plan to run 1" supports but havent decided if going to be length ways or long ways. On inside of my freezer to the right is small shelf I am thinking of putting dehumidifier on so may run the dowel rods front to back and keep them on the left 75% of the freezer.

Just ordered a Hakka 7lb stuffer and waiting for a few cultures to come in. After that I will make decision on what to do first. I also have about 100ft of UMAI bags to use. I follow keto diet so convinced wife doing this will save me a lot of money on sausage over the year. So looks like sausage will be my main food group for a while
 

golfpro2301

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Got some progress done yesterday.

One quick thing MOD if this is in wrong location can you please move to the correct area.

Ran by Home Depot yesterday to grab some supplies for the collar Interior of collar is made of 2x6 with a 1x10 Red Mahogany border. I ran two 24" long red mahogany pieces on inside and routed out 3/4" slots for dowel rods that will be used to hang meat. I applied some 1" insulation board to most of the inside. May insulate on top of the rod supports but will test how she operates first. Got everything glued down with gorilla adhesive and letting cure for 24 hours.

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You can see the far right hand side is the shelf I was talking about. Going to place dehumidifier there (cant decide which one) and possibly humidifier if it will fit. If not I will pipe the humidifier in externally.

One of the biggest questions I had is air flow can you just circulate the air on inside or should I add a damper to move air from inside to out? Plan was to run PVC pipe from bottom to top and install PC fan at base. This will allow move cold air from bottom to the top. Without the collar on I noticed temp difference and roughly a 10% humidity difference between bottom and top of freezer.

Still cant decide where to mount the controllers. Thought about front right corner on the wood trip and wrap cords around side but havent decided. I am picky about appearance and dont want to see a lot of cords in the way. May go get some cord hangers or tubing and run a long to conceal them.

Any advice on what needs removed or added would be appreciated.
 

golfpro2301

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Got the humidifier and dehumidifier today and planned to test everything out. First I applied Extreme weather foil tape over all the wood panels to lock out moisture. I then hung three mini humidity/temp sensors I got off Amazon at various levels inside the freezer. Then wrapped the temp and humidity sensor from the ink bird controller near the top.

If all of the mini sensors and the ink bird sensor are inside they all read within 2-3% humidity and 2* F temperature to the inkbird temp controller. I did the salt water test in a food container and the mini sensor read 92%. When the mini sensors are inside the freezer they all read 99% humidity and the ink bird controller is going between 70%-78% with humidifier and dehumidifier running. The mini sensors record accurate temperate that matches the ink bird controller. Do you think there is a calibration issue or these smaller sensors dont work well with humid environment. weird they read close to ink bird when inside but outside they are off by over 20%

Will pose more pictures this weekend. Still need to decide how to mount controllers.


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daveomak

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Nice curing chamber .... :emoji_thumbsup:
As far as checking temperature, use a glass of water or cooking oil type thing... It will equilibrate at an average temperature..
As far as venting goes... some have used aquarium air pumps.... You want fresh air for the curing process...
Both books have very good info.... I have both in Kindle...
Marianski 1.jpg
.....
Marianski 2.jpg


Nitrites are needed only when smoking meats or making fermented sausages... Cure#2...

Marianski, Stanley. Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages (Kindle Location 2211). Bookmagic LLC. Kindle Edition.

Evan has good prices and he's a member here...

.
 
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indaswamp

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"HUMIDITY - I live in Jacksonville Florida where humidity is crazy. At 55* the humidity inside is 84%. I know I need a small dehumidifier but do you think I can get away without a humidifier? "

Hello and welcome to the world of dry curing meats. Though I've only just started making dry cured meats, I've researched it for a long time prior to starting. Everything I've read, and those that have made drying chambers with chest type non-frost free freezers have told me; It will be difficult to keep the humidity down in those models due to how they operate with the condensation on the inside walls. There is no air movement over an evaporation coil like a frost free freezer to help remove moisture. You may not need a humidifier at the start of your drying, your biggest obstacle will be keeping the humidity low enough. You may need an auxiliary fan for air flow for proper drying and to prevent condensation on the casing of the meat (to prevent bad mold growth)...

All home made drying chambers act differently, you will have to adjust as you go and get a feel for it....I can tell you as a guy in hot and humid louisiana that one of the worst things you can do is have vent holes to the outside of the unit to remove moisture....it won't work because the air you will bring in will likely be higher in humidity than the air leaving the unit. Venting only works in places where the humidity is a lot lower than inside the unit. You draw in warm humid air, then cool it down, you will get a humidity spike off the charts and will never recover if you keep bringing in air.....

I do not have a vent. What is needed is proper air circulation inside the unit to keep condensation off the salami, to keep the moisture evaporating as it diffuses from the center of the salami outward. I rely on the evaporator fan for air flow during the cooling cycle... you will more than likely need a fan....
 
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indaswamp

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One other point I will mention:
Depending on airflow, you might consider running the unit cooler @51-54*F. If the condensation is a problem like I suspect it will be in your unit, you will be need more air flow to keep condensation off the walls and salamis. To slow it down, you can run at a lower temp. and let the salamis dry slower......
 

golfpro2301

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Hey Indaswamp. Appreciate feedback. Yeah I have noticed a lot of moisture on inside and even water puddling on bottom in small area. Humidity was very high prior to me adding wooden collar but now seems to be much less. With dehumidifier running I have set at 72% with 2% offset and no issues maintaining. I know will be different with meat inside.
Only thing left is airflow you mentioned. Been working with DaveOmak on few ideas.

if humidity is able to be maintained on inside will use aquarium pump with a 4l/m flow and shoot for air exchange 6 times daily. Like you said this may cause humidity spike So first try going to use small desk fan on inside blowing around walls. Going to use umai bags this week and will have extra to test inside curing chamber.

at most I will only have 5-8lbs at a time inside so hopefully that helps with humidity
 

indaswamp

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I get a high humidity spike when I open the door on my unit from the humid ambient air entering the unit......it'll jump up to 88-90%......
 

golfpro2301

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Just found another evadry dehumidifier on offerup for $20. Going to pick up this afternoon as well as mini desk fan.
Will put large container water in bottomand run unit with two dehumidifier to see how well maintains set points
 

indaswamp

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With two dehumidifiers, the temp. will rise faster. Your freezer will cycle on faster but this should not be a problem as it would with a frost free freezer. A frost free freezer fan blows faster than optimum air speed, as such, if the unit cycles faster then the salamis could develop case hardening.

Interested in how it goes....thanks for posting and give us an update.....
 

golfpro2301

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Ran some tests today using 1 and 2 humidifiers.

test 1-removed humidifier completely and put both dehumidifiers inside but only plugged one in. Set temp at 52 ( lower than originally based on indaswamp recommendation) and RH at 72%. Compressor would kick on at 57 but wouldnt start dropping temp for few minutes. Temp would climb 58-59and once dropped and cut off at 55 would continue to drop to 47-48. Humidity would climb to 79-80 and would drop to 67 range. Once temp and humidity were at bottom they slowly crept up. My guess is compressor would run for 5-7min then would be off around 15min.

test 2-plugged both dehumidifiers in and like indaswamp said temp took a bit to lower. Once it did temp would bottom out around 46 and humidity around 66. Temp would top out around 56 and humidity 78ish. One thing I did notice is humidity rose much faster on this test once it reached bottom

the freezer is sitting outside on covered patio with screen. Temp today were mid 90s
 

indaswamp

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one other point I'll mention:
The readings you get on your instruments will change relative to where the probes are located. You will get a higher humidity reading if the probe is close to either the side walls or one of your salamis. The temp will show higher if the temp. probe is located towards the top of the unit, and lower if it is at the bottom. My humidifier is located at the bottom of my unit. I have the probe on the first rack from the top-about 12" from the ceiling. This ensures that the humidity in the unit is at least as high as what the probe is reading. I have my unit set at 72%RH to compensate for this.... the humidity continues to rise when the humidifier is shut off by the controller and levels off around 80%RH. My temp probe is about 2" above the hanging salamis.

Also- you want to hang your salamis in the in the vertical middle of your unit as best as possible. I found it beneficial to flip them after about a month in the chamber to even out the drying on the ends....the top will dry faster than the bottom if not flipped.....

Also, if one of the ends is getting too dry, just hang it where the humidifier is blowing fog into the unit. leave it there until it softens up a little....
 

golfpro2301

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I mounted both probed on a piece of insulation board 3/4 up from bottom. It is directly below rods where meat will hang. Since I only plan to do less 8 pounds at a time it shouldnt be issue keeping meat away from them

ill follow your recommendations on flipping but since it appears I dont need a humidifier at all not sire how to handle one Side hardening faster Since partnofnmeat will be hanging above freezer portion where no humidity I can move dryer portion closer to side wall where there is moisture

i have a two pack of 3.8cfm blower fans coming this week with intermittent timer. Although been hot as **** here the humidity has been less than 80%. ill start with pumping air from outside to inside at an exchange rate of 6 times per day. This means ill set fan run for 1 min every 2 hours.
For the second fan thought about placing on inside and direct airflow down walls away from meat. Maybe let it run for 10-15 sec every so often just to circulate colder air inside. Since I modified the freezer with wooden collar I dont believe perfectly air tight so stale air will be able leak out.
 

golfpro2301

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Was able to get almost everything completed today. Got all wires ran through side. I decided to mount two blower fans inside near bottom to circulate colder air. I plan to open the cabinet once a day for air exchange. Blower hooked up to intermittent timer. They are scheduled to turn on every 2 hours for 1 min.
Only thing left is clean inside with alcohol solution and mount shelf on side to cover up wires. I didnt secure wires for dehumidifier as those may or may not be removed depending on how chamber reacts with meat inside. The numbers you see on controller are right after I plugged it in.

My main concern is the calibration of humidity controller. I really dont want to spend $130 on a calibrated Hanna to monitor it against. Any other solutions would be appreciated.

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indaswamp

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Just looking at what you have now, looking good....

though I would change out the wood poles for PVC to help inhibit the bad bugs from growing in the wood grain in the high humidity environment....PVC is also easier to wipe clean. 1 1/4" PVC can hold quite a bit of weight over that narrow a span.
 

golfpro2301

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Makes sense. Will go grab some tomorrow

been reading the art of making fermented sausage and alot of the recipes call for drying at 80-85% humidity. In researching online most maintain 70-80%. Does it really matter as long as you maintain 70-85%?
 

indaswamp

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I calibrated my humidity probe using the salt and water trick... my Inkbird was spot on.
 

indaswamp

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Makes sense. Will go grab some tomorrow

been reading the art of making fermented sausage and alot of the recipes call for drying at 80-85% humidity. In researching online most maintain 70-80%. Does it really matter as long as you maintain 70-85%?
Higher humidity slows drying. Lower Temp. slows drying. The opposite is also true. The bacteria in the salami that develop flavor need moisture and time to do what they do so delaying the drying gives them time to fully flavor the salami. At least that is how I understand it. Slower drying also lessens the dry ring on a salami....

Ideally, you want the RH to track 5% less than the water vapor pressure of the salami. This is optimum and commercial producers have instruments to monitor and set the humidity values of the commercial chambers.
 

daveomak

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The salt and water trick might be........

Humidity Chart 1 001.jpg
 

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