Parts for Dry-Curing Chamber

*This is what we used for our project. We excluded hand-tools such as Power Drills, Hammers, Metal Shears, Box Cutters...etc, and their accessories.
A few things that relate to more than one product here: The probes should not touch anything, including the walls, they should be near the center or at the sides (either way, surrounded by air). If you want to do something differently, go for it, you may have a simpler and more effective way of making this work, if so more power to you. Don't feel limited by the products shown, use what you need at the scale you need it. RETURN TO DRY-CURING CHAMBER PAGE.

Image of Product
Description
Relative Cost
Recommendation
Why its Needed?
A Refridgerator
Your basic 110V, "frost-free" refrigerator with a cooler/freezer in the bottom section and a 'ground' plug. We got a sweet deal on this one, it cost us $175 and it was barely used. Price depends on Standard of Living in location, availability, and shopping sense. Prices can change dramatically from one metropolitan area to another, if you live near a city or major town look at their craigslist.com listings. The resulting effect of having a freezer at the bottom as opposed to top or side was immensely better through a practical perspective. Look for one with a bottom freezer and a 3-prong plug. Cooling Device. The cooler of the Curing Chamber will keep the temperatures relatively steady because of the insulated walls and help from the other units. The bottom portion which is the freezer, holds the humidifier which will keep the Relative Humidity where it needs to be for any recipe.
Temperature Controller
Temperature Controller (NIST TRACEABLE). Equipped with a temperature probe and in/outlet both with 4' 6" slack, turns an appliance ON or OFF to maintain required temperature. Can be used for heating or cooling. Accurate within 2°F, impressive tool. The suction cups are a perfect addition (included), you can make the probe hang off the very middle of the fridge...nice. We sell this product for $148.99, available here . A very reasonable price considering the reliability and shear number of applications ths unit has. An excellent product to have, even if you don't want to dry-cure.

This product worked like a charm. The temperature was always in the ±2°F mark, it worked on the fridge to keep the temperature between 44-48°F, and it worked surprisingly well when we plugged our smoker into the Control to keep the temperature between 70-75°F for our recipe. Highly recommended, many applications. Having a remote probe is also a major plus but, mostly in terms of comfort because this product won't need to be checked often, just Set It and Forget (about) It....

Temperature Control . Its an invaluable product. The minimum temperature (or 'warmest') setting for refrigerators is still too cold for the purposes of effective dry-curing. We want it to be able to stabilize around 46°F, the Controller does exactly that. When its activated, the controller will simply turn OFF the fridge when it goes 2°F below the temperature you set, now that the cooling system is off the temperature slowly begins to creep upwards but when the set temperature is reached the Controller turns the fridge ON. The cycle continues, keeping the temperature steady. It can be switched to do the reverse (Turn OFF appliance when it goes 2°F above a temperature), this is used to keep a smoker at a steady temperature. If your buying a different unit make sure you are able to plug your 3-prong refrigerator plug into it.
lampholders
Two-Bulb Weatherproof Lampholders. With (2) 75WATT Bulbs. Weather / Moisture Resistant holders are a must since the environment is going to be very humid. No more than $15. Any hardware, electric, or outdoor store should have plenty of these in stock. May also need to purchase 110V cable with plug to wire it, or have someone with electrical experience wire it for you. To prevent blowing fuses, shortouts, or electrical fire, make sure the product prevents moisture from getting into the wiring ("weatherproof"). May need some basic wiring to work. Incubation. The first step in most dry-curing recipes is to hang the meats in a warm >70°F and high >80% RH environment for a few days. This can be done effectively outside the chamber with a warm room for temp. and wet salt for humidity, but the chamber can also handle this operation. Simply wire the holders and plug them into the Temperature Controller, voila, an Incubation Chamber.
Humidifier The Sunpentown 2 Gallon Capacity. Either ON or OFF setting with output control make this unit ideal for use along with the Humidity Controller (HumCon). Easily refillable. No filters to replace. Sounds alarm when water needs refilling. Beauty in Simplicity. This unit is on sale in the current Sausage Maker Catalog. If you want to see it's page, click here. The cost of this unit is $49.99. Did a lot of research into humidifiers before going forward and purcasing this one. First of all, it has no default low humidity if it is reset (like the hygrostat models) which makes it perfect for the Humidity Controller (HumCon). The output control dial provides excellent user discretion. We keep ours between Low and Medium. Take a look around at some of the reviews for humidifiers and you will see it really does jump out as a contender. If buying a different one for use with the HumCon, make sure it doesn't reset the Humidity Setting when turned OFF then ON (like hygrostat models). Humidity. Along with the right temperature we also need the Relative Humidity in the Curing Chamber to be just right. And just right means a higher than normal humidity for a refrigerator (which dehumidifies itself automatically). Humidity can be created by putting an inch thick amount of table salt with enough water to effectively cover the salt in a tray the length / width of the Curing area directly beneath the hanging meats. The draw-back of this is it takes a little time for it to work it's way up to +70% RH and when the fridge clicks on, it will dry the area quickly, killing the saltwater's progress. When cooling, refrigerators force cold and dry air into the chamber, using a decent humidifer will keep pace with the drying action of the fridge, or at least bring up the RH quickly before damage is done. The Sunpentown is what we are using for the Dry-Curing chamber, since we are also using the HumCon. If we only had the Humidifier, the chamber would not work, it would be uncontrollably moist inside.
Total Humidity Controller
Humidity Controller (HumCon) by The Control Company. UL Listed. 120V, 15 Amp Max. Relative Humidity Range 30% - 90%. 7% differential before activating appliance.Great product.. We currently sell this product for $107.99. Another very reliable Control Company product. Highly recommended. It is a well-trusted product in climate control. If you can somehow control the humidity, without forking over the extra dough then by all means. But, remember that it has to be effective non-stop for at least 3 months for some recipes. This unit is a good permanent fixture in the Chamber, that's why we selected it. Humidity Control. Without this product, the fluctuations in RH inside the Chamber were almost 30%, simply unacceptable. With the Controller turned to "Humidify" and the Humidifier plugged into the face, the chamber stayed under about 15% within the range we wanted. This was perfectly fine, even surprisingly good for the application we needed. Going below 60% RH threatens the casings with drying and hardening, this will prevent the moisture from leaving, nullifying the "drying process". So, whether you use a Humidity Controller like the one shown at Left or another, it is a wise investment. When purchasing, make double-sure that it can be used to humidify, and not just de-humidify...as most atmospheric controllers are available are for the latter purpose.
Hygro-Thermometer
Ex-Tech Big Digit Hygro-Thermometer w/Probe (NIST TRACEABLE). Probe extends 18". ±4% Relative Humidity (no prob.), 2°F. Needs one AAA battery. Can be bought with Calibration Kit to make it very accurate. Our meter was close enough to actual humidity to satisfy us. We checked it's accuracy by placing it next to an already calibrated hygrometer but, its luck of the draw without the kit. We have this nice nugget of a Hygro-Thermometer available for $49.99. The beauty of this little instrument is it's simplicity. There is no Outside/Inside readings, just where the probe is, which should be in the chamber and the two things we need to know: What's the Humidity? and What's the Temperature? In nice big, easy-to-read LED Digits. Any Humidity / Temperature meter is perfectly fine as long as (in my opinion) it is using a long enough probe that won't be in the way and will reach at least half the distance to the back of the fridge. Whatever meter you choose, make sure you understand its capabilities and drawbacks if any. Also calibration is a major plus. If in another product's description it has a probe but says "indoor humidity", it will only tell you the Humidity in the space surrounding the meter, the probe is only for "outside temperature ". Look for one with a fat plastic probe, not thin and metallic (see picture at left). Hygro-Thermometer. This is a vital unit, you will be checking the numbers on this meter much more frequently than the readings on the Temp. Controller or Hygrometer (if using one internally). That is why the meter / display should be outside of the chamber (probe inside is a must), because if the readings are at the levels they should be, why would you disturb the balance by opening the chamber door? If the only way for you to check the Humidity and Temperature is to open the door, this is no good since for the first couple weeks you want to check the environment for stability and correct readings frequently. If the difference between Hygrometer and Controller is minor (±5 to 10%), that's normal, let it be. For temperature, I would encourage you to do the same. There are wireless units available also that you can place the sensors inside of the chamber and take the display itself up to some 150-200 feet, pretty cool.
Hygrometer
Analog Hygrometer with a 2-3/4" Diameter Face. Measures humidity in the surrounding air from 20 to 100% Relative Humidity. Increments of 1%. We sell it here at the sausagemaker.com for $15. There are cheaper available, but cheaper may not be a good selling point. I would recommend having a non-digital, non-battery operated hygrometer in the case that the batteries die-out on the other one. It will also provide you with a second reading in the same environment, which will give you a better idea about what is going on in the chamber. Backup Hygrometer. While temperature is relatively easier to maintain at a steady level, humidity will be the tricky one to hold. Having more than one instrument to check humidity in the environment you made available is recommended for better accuracy.
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