How to build a Dry-Curing Chamber
Unless you have a year round stable cool temperature basement, when you start to dry-cure sausage you will need some sort of dry-curing chamber. This post describes how I turned an old refrigerator into my sausage chamber. A picture of the chamber in my basement is below.
To construct the chamber you will need the following items:
1. An old refrigerator in working condition. Try to find a cheap on on Craigslist, freecycle.org or at a garage sale.
2. A power strip outlet that can support the amperage of the fridge
3. A simple on/off light timer. Get the type that can support on/off in 1/2 hour increments and two power sources
4. A humidifier that does not use heat to generate humidity
5. A small de-humidifier. You will need this in the beginning of a curing cycle when the sausage or meat is moist.
6. A small table fan for moving air inside the refrigerator
7. A metal capable drill bit for drilling door holes.
8. A humidity controller, I used the Inkbird IHC-200
9. A temperature controller, I used the Inkbird ITC-308
10. A small computer cabinet fan to help bring in fresh air to the fridge
11. A DC voltage supply compatible with voltage and amperage of the computer fan
12. A computer fan filter pad to fit over the incoming air hole you will be drilling in the refrigerator.
Here is an Amazon add that provides links to some of the items I used.
Some more items for the Chamber:
To build the chamber begin by drilling 5 different holes. Use the large bi-metal hole drill for this. NOTE: the drill bit size should match the computer fan and filter size that you are going to use. You don't want the hole bigger than the fan/filter.
On one side of the refrigerator drill 2 holes thru the insulated wall so they come out near the bottom of the fridge compartment . One of these holes will be used to snake thru power cords for the humidifier, de-humidifier, table top fan and the controller sensor probes. The second hole will be used to mount the computer fan on the outside of the fridge to pull air out of the chamber.
Drill a 3rd hole on the opposite side wall of the refrigerator so that it comes thru near the top of the refrigerator cabinet. This will be used to allow outside air into the chamber. The computer filter will be placed on the outside wall of the hole to prevent dust from entering the chamber. A picture of this is shown below.
Since I had a fridge with a freezer, I drilled two more holes. These were to connect the freezer compartment with the fridge compartment. This allows the extra cold air from the freezer to contribute to the cooling of the dry-cure chamber.
Once the holes are drilled, fasten the computer fan on the outside of the fridge ensuring the air direction removes air from the inner cabinet. Mount the computer filter on the other side hole in the fridge. This will allow for slight fresh air to come into the chamber so that it enters the top portion of the fridge and exits at the bottom of the chamber.
Attach your power strip to the fridge as shown in the above photo. Mount the humidity and temperature controllers to the side of the fridge and plug them into the strip. Run the temperature and humidity sensor probes into the inside of the fridge via the remaining uncovered side hole you drilled earlier.
Place the humidifier, dehumidifier, and table top fan inside on the floor of the fridge and run the power cords through the hole that also provides access for the sensor probes.
Connect the light timer to the power strip and set the timer for 1 hour on, 1 hours off for the entire 24 hour period. To this timer connect the computer fan DC power supply and the table top fan inside the fridge. This will result in the fans being on and circulating air every other hour during the day.
Connect the humidifier power cord to the humidity controller's low humidity power outlet and the dehumidifier to the high humidity outlet.
Connect the refrigerator's power cord to the high temperature outlet of the temperature controller. The low temperature outlet is unused. In my case, my basement does not get below 50 degrees. If yours does, you may need to add a heating element to the setup described.
Plug the main power strip into an outlet and you are now ready to begin curing. I generally set my temperature at 56 degrees and my humidity at 68%. Below is a picture of my newly fixed basement with my setup. The walls where newly painted with waterproofing and the floor with a no skid epoxy type paint.
Here is the chamber in action!