Monday, January 7, 2013
Franken-Fridge: Update No.1 (Some Slight Modifications)
So I posted about Franken-Fridge (humidity/temperature controlled chamber for to cure meats) the other day. As I stated, we are firmly in the prototype/testing phase here so I thought I would share a couple of design updates I implemented over the course of the past few days. I know that the interest in dry-curing is sort of confined to a niche market but I hope to illicit some ideas/improvements from those out there who may be more expert than me on the subject.
The first change I made was to move the humidifier outside of the chamber onto a little platform attached to the door. The humid air is fed into the chamber by means of a tube now. I initially thought I was going to have to put a small computer fan inside the tube to force the air upwards, but the little unit's tiny amount blowing power seems to do just fine. This set up gives the benefit of much more space inside the chamber, the humid air isn't blowing right on the meat, and now you don't have to open the door to replenish the water supply.
The next thing I did was to add a pretty strong cabinet fan to the bottom of the wine fridge that produces the Franken-Fridge's cooling power. The sort of wine fridge that I utilized tends to cause a bit of condensation inside the fridge under the humid conditions we are trying to maintain. I hooked the fan up to the temperature controller so they kick on together. This seems to have mitigated the problem for now, but I think ultimately I am going to have to rig up some sort of catch basin/drip tray outside of the unit.
I am currently waiting for a small, laptop cooling pad that has a couple small fans to come in the mail. I am going to put that inside of the actual curing chamber to run pretty much constantly just to keep the air moving around a bit and to distribute the humidity.
Everyone laughed at my temporary duct tape construction, but I am happy that I didn't button up the hatches to permanently. I have had to make all sorts of adjustments and tweaks to the design and not having things glued/screwed together has helped a lot. I think I am begininning to close in on a very good solution given my available resources at this time. The salamis that I have going now seem to be doing just fine. Their casings are remaining pliable and the chubs have lost about the expected amount of weight. I am going to add some petit hams in the next couple of weeks.
My ultimate goal (someday) is to build an actual curing room in my basement (shhh! don't tell the wife).
I don't have anything near the time/patience/spare cash to do that right now, so I like to think that I am sort of in the journeyman phase of my meat curing hobby. The Franken-Fridge project is giving me a firm grasp of the fundamentals.