DIY Curing Chamber Build - Any Suggestions/Critiques on this Build?

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I'm eventually wanting to set up a drying chamber. From what I understand people avoid chest freezers, right? Are they workable because I have a chest freezer I'm not using, but I'm waiting to pick up a fridge of some sort.

I think maybe chest freezers have more of a tendency to generate condensation on the bottom, and may be more subject to heat variation. For this reason, I always used a fan when using them for my fermentation chamber for beer. I tried the Mariansky-recommended method of an exhaust fan when humidity was too high, but that didn't work (fan was always 100%). It wasn't until I got an actual dehydrator in there that it began holding at 55F and 70-75% RH.

So my thinking is that for the above reason, fridges may be preferable, and maybe there's a way to get them to work OK without a dedicated dehumidifier. However, that's easily resolved and I also find my little hanging racks that are basically built into the freezer to be very convenient...

So, since I have stable humidity and temp at low airflow, I think it'll likely work for you too with a dehumidifier.
Take a look at pg 82-83, where he talks about heat killing bacteria and bacteria being necessary for good meat flavor. Possibly out of frustration at the idea of cooking, or to make a point, he says:

There's no way he actually believes that! (he contradicts that many times in the book).
Don't have the reference handy, but maybe in reference to uncured/fermented comminuted meat. I expect he is well aware the FDA doesn't recommend 160° for any solid muscle but poultry.
Don't have the reference handy, but maybe in reference to uncured/fermented comminuted meat. I expect he is well aware the FDA doesn't recommend 160° for any solid muscle but poultry.

The first paragraph is "why do it" and he answers that cooking as a way to "avoid fights with inspectors." The next paragraph is about "what it does," most notably that it "kills bacteria that are instrumental in developing meat flavor." In the paragraph I reference, he alludes to it not really making sense by talking about trichinosis, where recipes ask for cooking sausages to 137F to deal with that. He then talks about how, when it comes to pork, it's generally assumed that it's disease free and that trichinosis can be dealt with via pre-freezing anyways.

So in short, he's saying "Cooking is to avoid fights with inspectors, hurts the flavor, and isn't really all that necessary in many situations." The implication is to avoid it or minimize it unless absolutely necessary.

So I actually think he's being a bit tongue-in-cheek in his final sentences. Saying "So cooking is dumb here! Why do it? If you're going to do it (and be unreasonable and kill the flavor and all the good bacteria), might as well go the full way and nuke it at 160F!"

I suppose my point is that I think it's a bit telling that, in such an accurate and clinical book, he takes a rare moment to speak a bit hyperbolically. As such, I think we might get a little bit of insight into his bias (which I'm sure is a well founded bias over years of experience, but it does also bias exactly against what I'm exploring and the taste that I actually prefer... at least in snack sticks)
Dude....that book is a salami book. That is the point of reference the author is writing from.

Yep. It's a great resource for that, as that's exactly what I'm trying to make: non-fermented salami (pg 142). Given it has "Fermented" in the title, I expected less detail in that direction, of course. I was just amused by what I saw especially relating to cooking, and thought it amusing to share.

Sorry if my read on it was annoying or whatever. It really is a great book, and I appreciate your recommendation for the book and everything else.
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An update: After reading Mariansky (Thanks indaswamp indaswamp !), he cited three things that contributed to drying in a curing chamber: temp, airflow, and humidity. As I have humidity and temp working, I took another look at airflow.

In short, he recommended:
  • At the beginning, airflow of 0.8 to 1.0m/sec
  • After about a week, airflow of 0.5m/sec
  • After another week and beyond, airflow of 0.1m/sec
To measure this, I bought an anemometer. I tried to find one that claims to measure 0.1m/s, and found this: I then did some basic tests, and found it to be more like 0.2-0.3m/s.

I started with just the convection current from opening the door or cooling cycles, and it didn't trigger the anemometer wherever I placed it (so we know max convection under 0.3m/s). I then placed a small fan in the chamber and measured 2m/s in front of the fan, dropping at a rate of about 1m/s per foot. However, the airflow was spotty and uneven. Even with the addition of more small fans, it was still uneven.

To resolve, I purchased a high-airflow filter, and placed three small fans in front of it. This time I felt airflow, but not enough to trigger the anemometer in any location ( < 0.3m/s with no windy spots).


My next step is to get larger fans and regulate them down so that I can start at higher airflows at the first week (0.8-1m/s), then turn it down for the second (0.5m/s), and turn it to around 0.1m/s for the duration. Hopefully that'll help me more consistently prevent case hardening and get my AW down even further.
A much better method to measure airflow.....and much simpler and cheaper.... is to us a piece of butcher's twine. Hang a piece next to your sticks about 2-3' long. the bottom end should move no more than within about a 1/8" circle; i.e. 1/16" in any direction. Any more than that and you have too much airflow.

Those varied airflow ranges are for optimal moisture removal in the fastest timeline. For commercial producers, time is money. Longer it takes, more expense tied up in the drying process...

For a home producer, the varied schedule is not necessary IMO. Remember-case hardening is the #1 biggest issue for the home producer.
In short, he recommended:
  • At the beginning, airflow of 0.8 to 1.0m/sec
  • After about a week, airflow of 0.5m/sec
  • After another week and beyond, airflow of 0.1m/sec
This schedule is for fermented, non-heat treated (not cooked; i.e. raw) salami where the fresh meat, salt, along with acid drop during fermentation will cause the "dripping" phase which will last 2-3 days and the salami will lose 5-7% weight.

Your sticks are not fermented so will lose moisture slower. The sticks have been cooked/smoked and will have lost quite a bit of moisture during that process....usually 12-25%. But being non-acidified, probably on the low end of that percentage. The sticks will have slight case hardening after this process from the intense heat. All this will inhibit/ slow down further moisture loss.

Bottom line- just dry them 0.1m/s or less. BTW, 0.1m/sec. is about 4"/sec.; or less.... is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.