As my experience curing meats increases, and my desire to cure more stuff after Grrls Meat Camp, I have been working on a way to increase my curing space, yet not invest too much money/time in the construction. I’m also game to share what is working and what isn’t with my meat friends (and of course, my other readers), who might be thinking about creating a similar environment.
After my experiments with the wine fridge, I had two major goals for the new chamber (besides not breaking the bank): More capacity, and better airflow.
A few weeks back (actually before Meat Camp), I was having my normal Saturday morning chat with B, the cheesemonger, I noticed the baker’s pan rack we were standing next to, and its zippered clear cover. A-ha! The clear cover would allow me to visually inspect the contents, yet keep the meat protected from dust. The zippered sides would allow me to alter the humidity level, I thought.
After the miracle of Google and the WEBstaurant store, I discovered that a similar setup could appear at my home for about half the cost of another wine fridge. So I bought it, and a clear plastic cover. I assembled it in my scary old house basement, which is naturally cool, and more humid than my living room. (think 7 feet of clearance, walls that were dug out, not poured in concrete, and are not exactly straight- the house is over 200 years old)
I used an old refrigerator shelf as the hanging rack for the top level, and bought some S hooks, and hung some of my items.
I have added a second level, using a replacement grill rack. This may not be strong enough, but I do have another refrigerator rack if it is not.
I have added a fan to the bottom of the rack. This one was replaced by a ceiling fan in another part of the house, so there was no cost outlay for this.
The last thing to purchase was another temperature/humidity controller. One trip to Ace Hardware and $28 later, here we are:
Given that we wanted to have about 70% humidity, and about 55 degrees F/13 degrees C, I’m feeling pretty good about the fact that the current setting is as shown above. (In case it’s not obvious, I live in SE Minnesota, and the cellar will get a little warmer in the summer, but not as warm as it might get where you are) I will have to monitor the temperature as spring goes on, to determine how many months this will be usable for.