My First Dry Curing Chamber

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My First Dry Curing Chamber

Postby solaryellow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:01 am

I had planned on using a Whirlpool fridge that doesn't quite hold perfect temp in the summer and winter. It looks like this:

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I removed the separator between the freezer and fridge so I have more room to hang sausage and ham.

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Temperature control will be controlled by this freezer temp controller.

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For humidity controls I bought this which has separate outlets for a humidifier and dehumidifier. I ordered a fogger that will be plugged into the humidifier outlet and have an AC AV cabinet low RPM fan that will be mounted to the side of the fridge for the dehumidifier.

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The fogger I bought has a float. I plan on putting it in a large tub of water so I don't have to refill it all that often.

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And to keep track of my temp and humidity I bought this remote probe weather station.

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I started this back in May but with building the big smoker and the NC summer heat it wasn't until today that I really got on top of this project.
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Postby solaryellow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 12:03 am

I finally got a chance to get back to my dry curing chamber project today. I started off by using a hole saw to put a hole in this PVC junction box to match the hole I had already drilled in the lower part of the fridge.

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The next hole for the low volume AC powered fan I had was not so easy. I wasn't going to buy a 4" hole saw for it so I made do with a plastic cut off wheel on my Dremel. It is ugly but it works. The purpose of the fan is to draw humidity out of the chamber.

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I then worked on fitting the fan to the junction box cover.

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After drilling my holes for the fan I cut out a piece of screen to keep bugs out.

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I then put the bolts through the hole in the junction box cover and screen. I added a couple washers between the fan and screen to keep the screen away from the fan blades and bolted it all together.

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It's ugly, but it works.

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Then I wired up the fan.

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From there I installed the junction box onto the fridge. A tip that will make it easier for you to line up the hole, use the hole saw bit with a bit protruding to hang the junction box off of. That allowed me to get it damn near perfect.

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The ugliness of that hole is bugging the ever living **** out of me but it works. The dehumidifier fan installed.

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Next I installed the humidity controller and hooked up the fan to it.

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I installed the temp controller next. The fridge plugs into the temp controller and when the fridge hits the ideal temp the controller kills power to it.

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I hung the probe in the middle of what used to be the freezer. My thought is that heat rises so the best place to put the probe is up top.

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For independent verification of humidity and temp levels I went with this Honeywell wireless unit. It supports up to 3 different probes should I decide to expand my collection if dry curing chambers.

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Time to test it out. Temp is set.

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The humidify light is on!

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And the fogger is producing humidity.

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An hour later we have perfection.

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Tomorrow I have to figure out how to clean up all the wiring, mount the fridge controls, get the hanging sticks installed, and put some screen on the top hole in the fridge. I will be placing an order with Butcher Packer tonight for starter culture and mold.
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Postby grisell » Sun Oct 09, 2011 10:21 am

Great! :D Really ambitious project. No doubt it will give perfect drying conditions.
André

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Postby wheels » Sun Oct 09, 2011 2:28 pm

Nice job - but watch that fan, it looks a big beast!

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Postby solaryellow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 3:32 pm

Thanks grisell and wheels!

The fan is big but it is a low volume/slow rpm fan so it doesn't move a whole lot of air. In fact, when you put your hand next to it you can just barely feel it.

I have been letting it run since yesterday evening and so far it is meeting expectations. The fogger has splattered some water inside the fridge but I think I can fix that by putting less water into the container or getting a container that sits a bit taller.
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Postby Yannis » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:09 pm

Nice job indeed solaryellow !!

In my case dehudifying fan didn't work as dew point of ambient air is very often higher than the desired inside chamber so RH actually increases !!!

I think that you should try hanging a wet towel inside chamber to force dehumidify fan to turn on and monitor if RH gets lower.

To decrease RH my controller turns on refrigerator to condense humidity. The problem is that since controller turns on refrigerator to lower temperature also it could turn off and on again very soon so I have ordered a delay on break timer to protect compressor http://www.ebay.com/itm/USA-Universal-D ... 500wt_1089
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Postby solaryellow » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:16 pm

That is very interesting Yannis. It does get humid here in the southeastern part of the US but typically that is in the summer months. Even then it isn't 70 - 80% for extended periods of time. I will keep that in mind.

One thing I have noticed is that the unit I bought for humidification and dehumidification (I may just have invented two new words) is very precise. It seems to have a 3% tolerance for variance in humidity levels which is less than I would have expected. My guess is that it was designed for a much larger space than a refrigerator where the variance might be less perceptible. Regardless, I am going to make some sausage and see how it all plays out. :D
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Postby wheels » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:40 pm

solaryellow wrote:Thanks grisell and wheels!

The fan is big but it is a low volume/slow rpm fan so it doesn't move a whole lot of air. In fact, when you put your hand next to it you can just barely feel it.

I have been letting it run since yesterday evening and so far it is meeting expectations. The fogger has splattered some water inside the fridge but I think I can fix that by putting less water into the container or getting a container that sits a bit taller.


Ah, that's good, I found using a fogger a bit of a bind so when it broke down (after not very long!) I changed to a small room humidifier - the beauty of your set-up is that it gives you the option to do this if necessary at a later date.

I look forward to seeing the (no doubt) superb produce that you will use this for.

Phil
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Postby Yannis » Sun Oct 09, 2011 5:47 pm

Keep in mind also that as you cool air inside chamber RH increases. If you cool ambient air from 25 C temp and 50% RH to 15 C then RH will rise to 90% !!!!
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Postby solaryellow » Mon Oct 17, 2011 1:57 am

My first go at extended dry curing is now on. To establish a baseline I am using recipes from Charcuterie by Rohlman and Polcyn.

5 lbs of Tuscan salami, 5lbs of Saucisson Sec (for the wifey of course), 10 lbs of peperone, and 10 lbs of Spanish chorizo (for me of course) were mixed and stuffed this weekend. Sorry for the poor cell phone pix but it was what was available to me at the time.

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Postby Wunderdave » Mon Oct 17, 2011 4:05 pm

This looks awesome, nice work!
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Postby saucisson » Mon Oct 17, 2011 5:51 pm

I love the blue light :D
Curing is not an exact science... So it's not a sin to bin.

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Postby solaryellow » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:51 pm

Thanks Dave!

I was hoping the LEDs would be easily removable but not so much.

Little white specks started showing up today. :D

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Postby grisell » Tue Oct 18, 2011 10:56 pm

What mould culture did you use?
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Postby solaryellow » Tue Oct 18, 2011 11:27 pm

Mold-600 Bactoferm that I got from Butcher-Packer.

http://www.butcher-packer.com/index.php ... 31407cdf3a
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