Dry Curing: Environment Variable Tweaking

My recent food preoccupation has been the sausage. I've been engrossed in Ruhlman's Charcuterie to get familiar with the subject. A few things appear crucial to making sausage. It requires a good source of pork. I plan on finding it at North Market when I get to my first run. Also crucial to the craft is attention to sanitation and accurate measurement.

My first run will likely be a dry cured sausage which requires a 60°F and 60-70% relative humidity (RH) atmosphere. I found a spot in my basement that runs 57-65°F and the chamber I'm using has a layer of saturated salt solution in it. This should give me an equilibrium RH of 72%. It's also open to the dryer air in the basement, in case I need some circulation.


I know my family will express their unconditional love for me by tasting my creations, but I'm going the extra mile and am going to make my measurements as accurately as possible.

To that end, I used a sling-psychromoter for the determination of RH. It's one of the most primitive, yet most accurate methods for measuring temperature and RH. It's a bit of a pain to use, so I'm using it as a primary standard to calibrate my other devices. I bought a wireless Honeywell thermo-hygrometer and used the sling-psychrometer (depicted above) to do a single point calibration. It was spot on. Then, I set the wireless module in my curing chamber and was able to achieve the results shown below. A tad below the theoretical 72% RH that a salt solution should give, but it was open to air in my basement (52%RH), so it's reasonable.


If I need to get a bit cooler, I can wrap my chamber with a wick (cotton cloth dipped in water) and cool it another 10 degrees or so by evaporative cooling. All with no added energy!

I am sooo ready. Just need some curing salt #2 and I'm off and running! You just can't find tedious passages like this in books folks.

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