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Dry cure chamber: humidity issues

Discussion in 'Curing' started by Cowgirljac, Aug 14, 2018.

  1. Cowgirljac

    Cowgirljac Newbie

    Greetings all,

    New to dry cure. I have a wine fridge equipped with a small fan, mini humidifier and two small containers of salt. There is no defrost cycle in my fridge. I have my first project, braceola, hanging. This is the beginning of week 2. There is some white powdery mold starting to grow. Temp is set at 60F. It’s having about 3 degrees of variance. The humidity is averaging around 85%- 90%. I am looking for humidity from 60-70%. I am opening the fridge two - three times per day. In my test run I needed the humidifier. I severely underestimated the amount of moisture that would purge from the meat.

    I am looking for suggestions to control the humidity. I have ordered a gel based dehumidifier from amazon (one you plug in to dry) and will try that.

    Also, anyone else using a wine fridge?
  2. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Usually dry curing meats is done at +/- 50 ish F with a rel.H of 80... That provides a very slow drying with no case hardening... If the meat has just been put in, open the door daily to expel the excess moisture...
    Humidity Chart 1 001.jpg
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  3. Cowgirljac

    Cowgirljac Newbie

    Thank you. I’m following the recipe in the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Have you done a search on Ruhlman ?? you'll find he is a writer... There are more folks out there with first hand knowledge of meats and processing... Just sayin'...
    Evan is a member here... check out some of his stuff... if you wish to...
  5. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    A lot of the issues is the wine fridge itself. They are small and if you load them with all the equipment to take care of temp and humidity it leaves very little space for meats.

    I use a beverage cooler about 1/3 smaller than a home refrigerator with no defrost cycle but I use Inkbird controllers and also a heater, humidifier and dehumidifier in addition to the cooling from the refrigeration from the cooler itself

    I would caution you to send back the gel dehumidifier and get a EDV-1100 petite dehumidifier. It has a handy water collection tray that you dump out ever couple of days/weeks depending on how much humidity to are extracting and replace. Down time is 30 seconds verses drying out non-mechanical options. They are around $40 on Amazon.

    Another think you can do is open the door a few times a day or if you chamber is in an air conditioned space you can also add an aquarium pump to your set up and pump dry cool air into the chamber. This is a cheap alternative but it like opening the door frequently can also introduce from unwanted bacteria from outside the chamber to the inside.

    I've been running Bresaola, Guanchalai, Lonzino, beef cheeks, Pancetta all at 58 degrees and 78% RH with great success.
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  6. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Below is an excerpt from Stanley Marianski's forum about drying temperature and bacterial growth when drying meats....

    Take for example traditionally made Hungarian salami. The sausage is made without sugar so we may say that there is no fermentation. The small account of glycogen (sugar) that meat contains and any resulting fermentation can be considered negligible. The whole process of making this sausage depends on drying. The Spanish will call it chorizo and in Lithuania they will cold smoke sausages and after drying it will be called Cold Smoked Sausage. Of course it is more complicated to dry a huge piece of meat such as a ham than a thinly cut strip of meat that will become jerky, nevertheless the rules of the game remain basically the same. You can not just hang meat and let it dry as it will spoil. Even when left in a refrigerator it will spoil although at a slower rate. You have to prevent bacteria from growing and that is accomplished by:

    • Applying salt. This prevents bacteria from growing and removes moisture. The less moisture remains, the harder it is for bacteria to grow.
    • Adding nitrite/Nitrate. This prevents pathogenic bacteria, notably Clostridium botulinum from growing.
    • At the beginning of the process keeping meat at refrigerator temperature. This prevents bacteria from growing.
    • Drying in the air. Once the meat has lost some moisture it is safer to continue drying in the air at 50-54° F (10-12° C). We don't want to dry meat in the "danger zone" 60-140° F (16-60° C) when bacteria find favorable conditions to grow. When drying is accomplished in a dehydrator (jerky) the temperature should be 145° F (63° C) which is above the danger zone.
  7. Cowgirljac

    Cowgirljac Newbie


    How long are you letting the Bresaola hang?
  8. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I let Bresaola's and Lonzino hang until the loose 40% of the weigh straight out of the cure

    Depending on the mass of the meat and season an average hang time would be 6 to 10 weeks sometime a little more sometimes a little less. In the summer as expected my chamber refrigeration cycles more than in the winter. This kicks on a fan with each cycle so things dry out a little faster. As the cooler months approach I fully expect drying times to increase as the refrigeration cycles will be less.

    But no matter what season they are done when the scale says they are done and not the calendar.

    I just started 3 spicy Bresaola this evening (average weight is 2000 grams). 20 to 25 days to cure then 8 weeks +/- hanging to dry, should be ready by Thanksgiving.

    Also my last Lonzino I let go until 50% loss and was pleased with the result. Thinking of letting these Bresaola do the same.
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2018
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