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Having trouble lowering the humitity in my dry cure chamber

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Joined May 6, 2018
I have made a curing chamber out of a soda display refrigerator (with glass door). I now have a humidifier set up to come on if the humidity gets below 70% (hasn't dropped low enough to come on). I just put a mini dehumidifier in the cabinet controlled to come on when the humidity is above 75% (it is running) The refrigeration system is controlled to come on at 45 degrees F. and turn off at 40 Degrees F. The humidity in my sunroom where the unit is located is 63% and the temperature is 71. The humidity in the cabinet is averaging between 85% and 90%. I have a small 110 VAC fan available if I need to install an exhaust. I have 50 lbs. of salami and 50 lbs. of peperoni in the unit at this time. any help or ideas would be appreciated.
 
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daveomak

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Julian, morning... First, please don't ask folks to e-mail you... There is no way for others to learn... This forum is a great learning tool...
Anywho, like Holly mentioned, you put a lot of water in the chamber with all that meat....
I would open the door a few times per day until the humidity gets to 80% ish... That's the humidity folks that do this for a living shoot for... No case hardening, but it takes a LONG time to get to a finished product...
 
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Joined May 6, 2018
Thank you for your reply. You hit it right on the nose. I put too much meat in in the future I will limit the amount to 50lbs. Things are presently looking good (day 8). With 4 humidity monitors: readings below the hanging sausages 70 percent; three on the shelf above them reading, 77, 78 and 79. The directions from sausage maker says it takes about 3 weeks.
 

daveomak

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Do you have a fan inside the chamber for air circulation ?? you should... That's an important part of drying the meat...

I have a small fan that emits 4 cubic feet per minute... not enough to promote case hardening, but enough to move the air.... I do use a dorm fridge... you may need a fan that moves more air.. maybe 5-10 CFM...

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daveomak

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You should see results in even humidities in the chamber.. Methods I have read, recommend higher humidities at the start so moisture leaves the meat from the inside out... Check the surface of the meat to make sure it is not getting stiff like case hardening.. One method the OP said he sprayed the surface of the meat to keep it from case hardening...
Once hard, moisture will not leave the meat...
Same deal when you form a pellicle, the moisture stays in the meat...
 
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Joined May 6, 2018
I have to ask, what does case hardening fell like, thee casing are not wet (I assume that's good). The sausages are plyable. (rubberey) more words that indicate they are misspelled. Another concern I have. I have 3 humidity measuring devices. placing the probes within an inch of each other I have one that reads 82, 80 and 79 Percent (these are located on the top shelf above the hanging sausages. the one I have at the bottom under the sausages is reading 71. this snapshot was taken at 42.4 Degree F. Is there a way to calibrate adjust these humidity monitors?
 
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Joined May 6, 2018
The directions on both mixes fom sausage maker say to keep the temperature between 40-50 degrees and the humidity between 70-80 percent. This is my first batch 50 lbs of salami and 50 lbs of pepperoni. I stufgst the meat into 35-38 mm hog casings. I am on day 10 of the 21 day cycle. From your description of case hardening, I think I am good.
 

daveomak

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Where did the "do not use a fan" come from... This forum ?? Or are you on another forum also...
 

daveomak

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The excerpt below is from Wrightfood blog... One of many I use as a reference.... After years of reading up on this stuff, and determining the author is reputable, I have averaged their parameters to "within" acceptable limits for a quality product... If you are using cure#2 in your products, the temperature needs to be at least 50F...

These conditions are temperature, humidity, and air flow.

In order to make a decent (and safe) product you need some way of controlling all three – or at least keeping them within a certain range. Lets look at each element separately, and see what we can do to control it.

temperature: a safe temperature range for curing meat is below 60F. Above that and bacteria grows a lot faster. Ideally you want the temperature between 50F and 60F. Below 50F and the curing process slows down a great deal, making the process take much, much longer (which also means it takes much much longer for your charcuterie to reach a safe water content level, but that is getting a bit geeky). Most likely you are going to find that you will have to cool and area to get it to 60F rather than heat it.

humidity: for most of the curing you want the humidity between 70% and 75%. Below 70% and you run the risk of the outside of your salami/meat drying out too fast, which means moisture is trapped on the inside, leading to spoilage. If the humidity is really high for too long then the sausage wont dry correctly, and you run the risk of getting a lot of bad mold on the charcuterie.

Ideally when you first put something in to dry cure, you want the humidity at around 85%, and then over the course of the next week you want to drop the humidity down to 75%. The reasoning here is that you want your humidity just a bit less than the water content of the meat you are curing – this stops the meat drying out too fast and developing case hardening. At the start of curing the meat has a lot of moisture in it (especially leaner cuts), so you want your curing humidity to almost match that. As the meat looses water you drop the humidity down accordingly (or roughly anyhow).

Typically we find that most areas in a house aren’t this humid, unless you have a cold, dank basement. Often enough we find ourselves having to add extra humidity to a space to make it perfect.

air flow: some air flow is critical in not only helping to dry the meat (pulling moisture away from the surface of the sausage), but it also really helps keep bad mold (green, black and fury mold) off the meat too – since there isn’t stagnant damp air constantly around the sausage. In practical terms this can just mean fanning the meat a couple of times a day, or setting up a low powered fan to blow a little air around.
 
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Thank you, I am printing this out and saving it in my copy of "the Art of Making Fermented Sausages". I raised the upper limit of the cooling cycle to 50 vice 45 degrees F. I set the lower limit to 45 where it was 40. The Sausagemaker.com is where I get my spices/kits from clearly state 40-50 degrees. Being new to this I don't want anyone getting sick or worse from a product I am Making. The book I was been digesting have numerous temperature and humidity ranges depending on the type of sausage being made. I am going to keep the temperature within the range as stated on the directions given by sausagemaker, if the meat goes south, I will spend the money and send it all to sausagemaker and ask for compensation (if they disagree, there is Walton's). I know I am a 66 year old retired submarine sailor with an attitude.
 
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The "do not use a fan" cane from the forum, it may have been referring to an exhaust fan cut into the cabinet. I do have a fan moving the air very slowly inside the chamber. Years ago I was making trips to western Maryland, to deer hunt (mid 70s). that is where I was introduced to making bologna. I was hooked. I built a smoker from a aluminum refer (modified numerous times over the years) I have dealt with sausage maker ever since. In fact I have a stainless steel cabinet 12 ft. long with a sink on one end (got rid of the hot tub) Sausage Mixer, Heavy duty grinder and a 15 lb. stuffer. During the cooler weather I do smoked turkeys, and all kinds of sausages for numerous hunters (all on a 50/50 basics)
 
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Joined May 6, 2018
I am on day 16 of the 21 days, the instructions said it will take to complete the dry curing of the salami and pepperoni. Being I have 100 lbs of meat hanging (well when it went into the chamber. How do I determine if it is done?
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daveomak

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Weighing each bundle of the sausage, then re-weighing each to determine % weight loss... when you reach the recommended weight loss, they are done...
As a side note, any liquid you added to the mix, prior to stuffing, should not be added into the initial weight... Only the original weight + spices, should be used as the starting weight....
 
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Thank you for this knowledge, however it's to late to be done now. They are differently smaller than the were when they went in. Lessons learned, tag and weigh the sausages; only do 50 lbs batches
 

daveomak

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Holly, Thanks for the correct method to determine % loss.... It's always good to know how to do stuff correctly.... Dave
 
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Update! All the salamis and pepperoni have been removed from the curing chamber. I am not able to tell what is the pepperoni or the salami, (taste the same to me) lesson learned, weghw and tag each stick. I will in the future hang individual sticks of sausages (so I will have good air flow). Now that I have all this salami and pepperoni, I sprayed a shot of conola oil in my pint size vaccume bags and sealed them with approximately 4 each 6 "sticks in each bag. Should I freeze these bags. I think I must have 60 bags.
 

Cowgirljac

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Case hardening to me feels like sort of like squeezing a thick walled plastic water bottle. The outside is stiff but as pressure is applied it starts to squoosh.

42.2 degrees seems really low for a curing chamber to me. Normal household refrigerators run around 38 to 42 degree range.

I am currently running my curing chamber is set at 55 degrees F and 70% RH for pancetta, bresaola, guanchalie and duck prosciutto. I have not experienced any case hardening but I do run heat,cool,humidification and dehumidification in my chamber with a 3 degree temp and 3% humidity dead band. So unless I open the door my chamber will only fluctuate from 52 to 58 degrees F or 67 to 73% RH.

I could tighten up the dead band a lot more but then the facets start fighting one another because of overshoot. a 3 degree/3% RH dead band just seems to work really well for me.
Hi, new to dry cure. How are you maintaining only 3% spread in humidity?
 

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