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Good, affordable home curing chamber for beginners?

Ty520

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I was wondering if anyone knows of a resource for a good, reliable, but relatively affordable home curing chamber for a beginner? either DIY plans or pre-manufactured.

I live in southern az, so something with good humidity and temp controls/regulation.
 

indaswamp

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Eric uses a commercial cooler, but modification must be done. A smaller fan installed for just a wisp of airflow...about 4 inches per second. The continuous fan switch disconnected so it only runs when the compressor is on. Also, the glass door must be covered to provide a dark environment so the fat does not go rancid and the mold will grow.

IMO, a stand up frost free freezer is the best option, though if you can find a stand up freezerless refrigerator, that is even better. If you use a frost free refrigerator with a freezer, it is possible to cut the walls out for more space, just be mindful of the coolant tubes in the walls...usually there are no tubes running between the fridge and freezer wall.
 

indaswamp

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If you want affordable, you will have to build your own. But it's easy nowadays with the plug and play units available on the market. Also, no digital humidifier or dehumidifiers.....analog only so the controllers can switch on and off.
Living in Arizona, you probably won't need the heater becasue ambient air temps. likely won't drop low enough to drop the temp. inside the unit. This is really only a concern if you live up north and keep the unit in a cold garage outside...
 

indaswamp

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A frost free unit will provide enough airflow on the cooling cycle to move enough air for proper drying. No auxillary fan needed...
 

SmokinEdge

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I was wondering if anyone knows of a resource for a good, reliable, but relatively affordable home curing chamber for a beginner? either DIY plans or pre-manufactured.

I live in southern az, so something with good humidity and temp controls/regulation.
For the beginner, I would also recommend Umi-dry Products. You can do everything from salami to copa and lonza. In your standard refrigerator. This can help you get familiar with grinding, mixing and fermentation and learning about PH drop with much better initial drying success. Then if you really get hooked, you can put together all the equipment to build a chamber. It is just another option for you.
 

Ty520

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For the beginner, I would also recommend Umi-dry Products. You can do everything from salami to copa and lonza. In your standard refrigerator. This can help you get familiar with grinding, mixing and fermentation and learning about PH drop with much better initial drying success. Then if you really get hooked, you can put together all the equipment to build a chamber. It is just another option for you.
Thanks - i actually just ordered a kit. the biggest criticism of their products that I've heard though is that they're pricey, and you can't reorder supplies - have to reorder an entire new kit
 

Ty520

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thanks for all the quick input.

What size fridge would you recommend?

any tips/tricks on running power chords and mounting the controls etc to minimize damage?
 

SmokinEdge

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and you can't reorder supplies - have to reorder an entire new kit
You can order the sausage casings and the bags separately. Spices, I’m not sure about, but if you want to learn the ropes, sourcing and using scratch recipes is a must.
 

Ty520

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You can order the sausage casings and the bags separately. Spices, I’m not sure about, but if you want to learn the ropes, sourcing and using scratch recipes is a must.
OK, good to know - they must have changed how they operate since I read that review. I did see that you could buy the spice mixes separately on amazon, but didn't see the bags
 

SWFLsmkr1

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Thanks - i actually just ordered a kit. the biggest criticism of their products that I've heard though is that they're pricey, and you can't reorder supplies - have to reorder an entire new kit
Thats not accurate.
you can just order casings (bags)
 

SmokinEdge

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OK, good to know - they must have changed how they operate since I read that review. I did see that you could buy the spice mixes separately on amazon, but didn't see the bags
Also I’m pretty sure the kits do not come with enzymes. You have to order the culture separately, if you are making salami.
 

cutplug

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Also I’m pretty sure the kits do not come with enzymes. You have to order the culture separately, if you are making salami.
Here is the ingredient list for Salumi from the Umai Dry website.

Your kit includes:

  • 30 ft. (10m) UMAi Dry 50mm (2 in) diameter sausage casing
    Suitable for 25-30 lbs. (11-14kg) of meat
  • 6 tsp. InstaCure #2 (for 30 lbs/14kg of meat)
  • Bactoferm T-SPX starter culture (enough for 300 lbs/140kg of meat, if kept frozen) [NOTE: Starter culture is alive. It may be shipped at ambient, but must be FROZEN IMMEDIATELY UPON RECEIPT.]
  • 12 tsp. Powdered Dextrose
  • Zip ties included for easy, secure closure of casings
I have used the dry age bags for a whole strip primal with great success (dry aged 40 days) and have used the soppressata kit with equally great success. Also made some capicola with the smaller bags and was blown away with the results.
 

SmokinEdge

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Wow, they include starter culture now. Nice. Used to not even be able to get it from them. Been a while, I guess.
 

Mmmm Meat

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thanks for all the quick input.

What size fridge would you recommend?

any tips/tricks on running power chords and mounting the controls etc to minimize damage?
The desired size of the chamber is dependent on how much product you want to make. I have a 27 cu. ft. Frigidaire that dedicated fridge, no freezer. I have three batches, generally 5 - 7 lbs., going at all times and use only about 20 percent of the available space at best.

A larger size fridge is easier to work with as you typically have to include a humidifier and dehumidifier in the floor of the unit. Smaller units like wine coolers with adjustable controls seem like a perfect fit if you don't want to make massive amounts of product. How well they control the humidity? I have no idea. Mini-fridges - I tried this and found the humidity impossible to control. Frost Free type for refridgerators is key to being able to control the relative humidity (RH).

Indaswamp did a nice thread on how he built his first attempt at a curing chamber. There are several other threads, including mine with discussions on equipment and setup. A simple search for "curing chamber" or "curing chamber build" should provided a lot of good reading and get you off in a good direction. Once you decide to do it, start a thread and ask questions as you go. You will get a lot of good advice in advance of spending the money.

Inkbird Humidity and Temperature Controllers on Amazon go for about $75 for both units. You will find other suggestions for humidifiers and dehumidifiers that are reputable. If you don't have it already, I recommend you purchase or borrow a copy of "The Art of Making Fermented Sausages" by Marianski borthers. Read that before attempting any salami type products and you will understand the whys and hows of safely making fermented meat products. Food safety is paramount.
 

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