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Author Topic: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.  (Read 17941 times)

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« on: November 16, 2009, 02:23:11 pm »
Busy day today, besides starting my dry cure sausage, I just got around to putting my ham in a cure, and soaking some cow tongues; which I hope to smoke in a couple of days.

Click on pictures to enlarge.

Here is my basic Dry Curing Cabinet setup, not shown in this picture are the remote receiver for the Thermo-Hygrometer, and the Ranco ETC-111000-000 (Line Voltage Thermostat with Probe). They are on top of the refrigerator. The heater is for when I want to ferment (incubate bacteria) sausage in the refrigerator instead of the Bradley. So that piece of equipment is optional. It is placed in the refrigerator for illustration. The fan is a variable speed fan that I found in Wal-Mart a couple of years ago. Though most Dry Curing Cabinets don’t have this in their design; I feel it is important to keep the air slowly circulating. I’m currently working on hooking up a computer fan, and in the future I will us that instead of the current fan. That fan will also have a variable speed. Note: after taking this picture I swapped the positions of the fan and humidifier.

   


Here is my setup for fermenting (incubating the bacteria) sausage in the Bradley. The bottom is a hot plate with a pan of water on top. I taped some foil in the back to protect the wiring of the Bradley heating elements. The hot plate is being controlled with the DigiQ II. The wire for the hot plate is run out the generator opening. To keep the heat in and wind out, I use the cold box propane adapter plate and some aluminum foil.

The double rack above the hot plate holds 5 pounds of Spanish Chorizo, the next double rack hold 5 pounds of beef pepperoni, and the top rack is a highbred of 5 pounds of Tuscan/Hungarian salamis. They were placed in there at 7:00 AM this morning, and I will take them out of the Bradley around 8:00 PM, and hang them in the Dry Curing Cabinet.




What can I say; I’m a gadget freak. To check on the humidity inside the smoker I used the Extech 445713 Thermo-Hygrometer. If you look at the previous picture you can see the white probe hanging through the vent. The humidity stayed between 92% - 99%; the latter reading is the maximum reading for this instrument. I may try salt water next time in an attempt to keep the humidity down. At first the readings from the DigiQ II and the Extech were about 14°F off, with the Extech sensor located at the top, with the higher readings. That had me worried for a while, but after about 30 minutes the temperatures stabilized and were only 2°F – 3°F, with the Extech having the higher readings.

   


Here is a composite of two photos taken within seconds of each other.



In a couple of hours I will be hanging my sausage in the cabinet. I was hoping to have the sausage ready by Christmas, but that doesn't look good.


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Offline FLBentRider

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #1 on: November 16, 2009, 02:28:18 pm »
That looks very cool Habs.

Are you using the cooling function of the refrigerator and is that what the Ranco controls ?

What are you using the control the humidifier ?
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Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #2 on: November 16, 2009, 06:45:42 pm »
Habs

Great to see the project coming together. I can't wait to hear how this plays out... Man, I gotta get on this!  ;)

Mike

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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2009, 02:39:34 am »
I'm going to be gone most of the day, but will try to post pictures this afternoon.

Well! I'm not sure how the sausage will turn out. I dozed off, and they were in the Bradley much longer then I had expected. About an extra 2 hours, but the pan of water went dry. The bottom tray of Chorizo was partially cooked. The rest seem iffy, except for the salami on top; which ironically was getting most of the heat; but it is thicker sausage. After a night in the Dry Curing Cabinet, they look like they are recovering. I will take a ph reading latter (I'm using the strips, can see paying around $200 for  a meter).

 
Hi FLB;

Yes! I'm using the Ranco ETC-111000-000. It has two modes, and you set if for either cooling or heating. Mine is set on cooling, which is keeping the temperature within +2°F. I have the temperature set at 62°F.

For the humidistat I'm using the Green Air TCH-1. I found that controlling the humidity in a very enclose space is tricky. The TCH-1 worked great when I tested it in a small bathroom; I couldn't test it in the refrigerator because at the time I was using it to store food. So even with the humidistat, I'm finding that I have to control the mist, or the cabinet would remain in the mid 80's to up to 90%. I'm still tweaking it.

Hi Mike;

Thanks for you help for helping me track down links and review equipment. I think that has been going on and off for about 1.5 years?! So far it is not as easy as "Set it and forget it"; but hopefully I will dial in on the humidity. The humidifier is working really well, even at the highest setting the mist is very fine an there is not pooling.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2009, 02:41:19 am by Habanero Smoker »


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Offline deb415611

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2009, 03:48:54 am »
Habs,

Very cool.  What size is the refrigerator that you are using? 

The dry curing cabinet/cheese cave is still in the very early planning stages so it's great to see your pictures.     

Deb

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #5 on: November 17, 2009, 02:27:33 pm »
Well I figured out what the humidity problem is. In this situation, the humidistat is not causing the problem. I must have such a large load that all of the humidity is coming from the sausage. I unhooked the humidifier 9 hours ago and the relative humidity is staying at 88% or 94% depending on what thermo-hygrometer I am going by. If the relative humidity doesn't drop in the next 24 hours I may crack the door open during the night.


Habs,

Very cool.  What size is the refrigerator that you are using? 

The dry curing cabinet/cheese cave is still in the very early planning stages so it's great to see your pictures.     

Deb

Yeah! The planning stages can drag out. Don't get like me and over think each step.



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Offline BigJohnT

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #6 on: November 17, 2009, 05:00:05 pm »
Looking Good Habs... I can't wait for the final result.

I love it when a plan comes together  ;D

JT

Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #7 on: November 17, 2009, 05:20:48 pm »
Habs

This information is from here... http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/fermented-sausages/equipment.htm

From everything I have read on building a drying chamber they say the first while the sausage gives off a lot of moisture and in an enclosed chamber you will have to open the door periodically to lower the humidity.

"10.13 More About Humidity Control


It takes a day or two to get to know your adjustable humidifier. When fermentation starts humidity should be high (> 90%) but set your humidifier lower, at about 75% and see what will happen in an hour or two. Evaporating moisture from the sausages will increase humidity inside your fermentation chamber to about 90% or higher. Open the door periodically to let the moisture out (do some fanning with a magazine) and humidity will fall down let’s say to 80%.

Close the door and check it again to see the humidity level. Were you to set up your humidity at 90% or higher, the evaporating moisture from the sausages will soon saturate the chamber and the sausages will be soaking wet. The door should be opened and the chamber dehumidified. When drying sausages do the same, set your humidifier at 60% and see how humid the drying chamber becomes. As the sausage loses more moisture, these changes will be less pronounced and a point will be reached when humidity in the chamber will be a little higher than the setting of the humidifier.

In closed chambers such as modified refrigerators, there is no ingress nor egress of the air, and the evaporating moisture from the sausages will increase the humidity in the chamber. The fan will just facilitate drying but will move the same air around. That is why the door will have to be periodically opened to let this moisture out. If an opening could be made, a fan controlled by a humidistat switched to "dehumidify" mode would remove moist air outside. In commercial chambers the correctly prepared air (temperature and humidity) is blown into the room and sucked out at the other side."

Keep up the great work Habs... If I ever get around to building one your going to have all the ground work done!  ;)

Mike

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Offline squirtthecat

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #8 on: November 17, 2009, 05:25:43 pm »

Hmmm.... Is there a gadget (I like gadgets too!) that acts like the Ranco, but triggers off of humidity, rather than temperatures?

High humidity readings could trigger a small fan to bring fresh air in, while some kind of pressure driven vent (like a dryer vent) would open up and let the moist stuff out.
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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2009, 01:28:29 am »
Mike;

Thanks for pointing me in that direction. It's funny, that is what I started doing, but I don't know how I missed that information; and I have the book also. Oh well :). With the fan in the refrigerator, I don't have to use the magazine. ;D



Hmmm.... Is there a gadget (I like gadgets too!) that acts like the Ranco, but triggers off of humidity, rather than temperatures?

High humidity readings could trigger a small fan to bring fresh air in, while some kind of pressure driven vent (like a dryer vent) would open up and let the moist stuff out.


That's a good idea. The Green Air TCH-1 has a dehumidifying feature which you need to hook it up to a fan instead of a humidifier, but I don't want to cut any vents into my refrigerator.


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Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #10 on: November 20, 2009, 03:17:29 am »
Click on photos to enlarge
Here is a photo of my drying rack. It’s made from 1x3 maple, and 1/2 hardwood dowels. The wood is protected with two coats of shellac. Shellac is safe for food contact, and it also has some antimicrobial properties. The dowels rest in slots that are spaced 2 inches. This gives me more flexibility in spacing the hanging sausage.


Here’s a photo that was taken a few days ago, to show the remote receiver for the thermo-hygrometer, and the Ranco.


Here is a photo of the sausage that is hanging in my dry curing cabinet. I need to do some rearranging. The humidity has lowered from the mid 90’s is now it doesn’t get over 88%. Hopefully on Monday I will add my bresaola.


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Offline Tenpoint5

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #11 on: November 20, 2009, 06:00:19 am »
Looks like everything is coming along rather nicely Habs.
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Offline muzzletim

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #12 on: November 20, 2009, 08:23:26 am »
Looks like a great setup!!! Looking forward to seeing the end result in a month or so!
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Offline KevinG

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #13 on: November 20, 2009, 10:00:25 am »
Great project Habs! Wish I had the money & time to play. I love projects.
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Offline Mr Walleye

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Re: Dry Curing Cabinet - In Development.
« Reply #14 on: November 20, 2009, 05:31:35 pm »
Habs

Man... that last photo is killing me!  :P

Somehow I have to find the time to build mine.  ;)

Great job Habs!  8)

Mike

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