Table of Contents
- Best for Plug & Play Temperature Controller
- Best Hard Wire Temperature Controller for Meat Curing
The best temperature controller depends firstly on what type of fridge you use to cure meat and whether you want an easy plug-and-play option.
Best Plug & Play Temperature Controller for Meat Curing
Best Hard Wire Temperature Controller for Meat Curing
Many years ago, I started looking at all the options for my first curing chamber; I still check out what’s available when helping others and put recommendations in the courses. The possibilities are limited to a few brands since they are designed specifically for this type of operation (yes, there are controlled options; more on this below).
Even in the commercial dry curing rooms and businesses I’ve seen, they use the same hardwired options (like Auber Instruments) available to the do-it-yourself hobbyist meat-curing charcuterie crew.
I’m just about to build another meat curing chamber, and I will finally go WIFI and plug-and-play for this build. If you are an electrician or electrical engineer or are very savvy regarding wiring appliances, maybe the hardwired option could be for you.
If you’ve been looking at meat curing chambers, you know the humidity is as important as temperature for getting the right mix of beneficial bacteria growth (penicillin) and avoiding case hardening on the outside. You’ll find some packages for temperature and humidity and controllers that are around.
(Note below are Amazon Links – No additional expense to you, but significant assistance to this site)
Best for Plug & Play Temperature Controller
Prewired, ready-to-go controller – plug in your fridge and adjust it to the desired temperature.
Inkbird is the most popular target temperature controller for the hobbyist. Homebrewing has been another one of the significant applications for this type of temperature controller. To keep the fermentation at the right level for those tasty beverages.
In terms of simplicity, this is the easiest option to control the temperature for a frost-free old fridge, or even if you have a cooler, you want to hold it for a charcuterie room. The above wasn’t frost-free; it was more ‘moist’ with the cooling panel on the back. A dehumidifier and humidifier in the bottom edge area took care of everything.
Down the track, if you start getting into dry-cured salami, you can use the other output for heating to get to fermentation temperatures.
When you compare this to some hardwired control systems, it is a much simpler operating system since it was designed from the ground up more for the hobbyist than a commercial application.
Auber instruments have been around for a while, they are a US company that assemble their equipment in the US.
I like Auber Instruments. They are quality engineers producing the goods. This one and many of their instruments are focused on PID.
PID controllers run a tighter control loop and, hence, a more closed temperature – when I looked at pellet grill smokers, I learned a lot about PIDs.
I found out it doesn’t matter if they were PID controller for feeding the pellets into the firepot. It leads to fewer variations in temperature, but you don’t need that level of accuracy for temperature and humidity around meat curing – being close is good enough.
Quick storytime: I was at a Parma Factory in Italy recently – after three 3 months of control on Parma Ham – the boss said the Parma is hung in a room with huge windows on each end (the smell was heavenly). When it rains, they close the windows; when it doesn’t, they leave them open (the climate and rivers around the Emilia-Romagna aid to the higher humidity, however) – this goes on for at least nine months. There is a 2-3% loss of 85,000 Parma Hams a year from master hand salting, presumably. (Midsize Parma Factory 1 of about 150 in the region – pork, salt, right conditions for a while, skill, and time).
Check out this 2-minute video of the wifi Auber TH-220 wifi connection.
Just note the above Auber controller is for temperature or humidity – so you have two inputs that can be adjusted to suit your setup.
Best Hard Wire Temperature Controller for Meat Curing
This is a proven temperature controller design, and I have seen many iterations.
I have used the humidity version of this controller, which is hardwired into a large double-door curing chamber I had. Honestly, I needed help from an electrical friend to get all the programming done differently to get all the wiring correct. Hence, I strongly suggest you have this skill or can get help from somebody who does.
It is very simple to program compared to Auber instruments.
There are a lot of options when it comes to the different types of hardwired temperature controllers. 1/16 Din is about 1.7 x 1.7″ – the same as what I had for my humidity controller.
As mentioned, Auber Instruments are on a more commercial level compared to Inkbird.
Here is a link to the Auber Instruments Temperature Controllers for hard wiring.
Old Kitchen Fridge or Bar Fridge
I have come across some old wine fridges that sit on the red wine temperatures (55-65°F/12-18°C) that can reach the right level you want for meat curing.
So, if you haven’t got a fridge, you might want to think about this before looking at temperature control; you might get away without one.
It all comes down to the environment where you live. But also, what do you want to use a chamber for? When guys use a wine fridge, I have seen that you may be trying to dehumidify the chamber or humidifier.
But for an old frost-free kitchen fridge that always runs drier, I found that they run at 20 to 30% humidity, so you want to humidify the area.
Many wine fridges I have encountered sit around 50% humidity, which is just a touch on the ‘too’ dry side. But it depends on what the local climate is like.
What Size – Choosing a Meat Curing Fridge
Whether you’ll be hanging some minor cuts of meat or more giant legs of pork for prosciutto. A small mini fridge can get full quickly once you stick in humidifiers, dehumidifiers, hanging racks, and a fan.
You will always hang the meat to minimize contact with any surface. I just wanted to highlight this before you get any of the gear.
Operating Temperature Range Needed
50-60°F or 10-15°C – is about right. Most of the time, I leave it on about 52°F or 11°C.
It does seem to depend on your setup and sometimes needs some tweaking. You must watch and learn how your curing chamber reacts to environmental or mechanical changes. It’s part art, science & craft at the end of the day – but the results are phenomenal.