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Best Temperature Controller for a Meat Curing Fridge Cabinet Conversion

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

(Last Updated On: January 17, 2024)

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

  1. Inkbird ITC-308 Temperature Controller
  2. Auber TH-220 Wifi

Best Hard Wire Temperature Controller for Meat Curing

  1. Inkbird ITC-1000 Hard Wired Temp Controller
  2. Auber Temperature Controllers (depends on setup)

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

Dru Curing Meat in Curing Chamber
Dru Curing Hungarian Salami and Spicy Wild Venison Salami (with a Spanish Rioja Wine)

Inkbird ITC-308 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.

Inkbird Controller 1 small
Curing Chamber with Controllers large
Over the 15-odd years I have been doing this, I have had a few setups

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.

2. Auber TH-220 wifiir?t=eatcuredmea05 20&language=en US&l=li2&o=1&a=B06XFV4JT1

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.

Dry Cured Salami
Dry Cured Salami

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

1. Inkbird ITC-1000 Hard Wired Temp Controller

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.

2. Auber Temperature Controllers (depends on setup)

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

Temperature

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.

Humidity

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.

Method for Curing Meat with Salt
Wild Venison ‘Back Steak’ / Loin Braesola Style Dry Cured

Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

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Comments

  1. Hi..i am just venturing into homemade meat curing. I live in Sth Australia where now in winter is very cold, but humidity is high and low, drying my salami too much. I want to build similar to what you have built with a fridge. My question is do fridges go to 15 degrees celcius or is the lowest setting much lower? I have looked at the inkbird temp and humidty controllers, can’t find a unit that does both so have to buy 2 units.

    1. Author

      Gidday John! 15C for a fridge would only be due to the ambient temp being high or a heat source. Inkbird 608 does 1 temp 1 humidity. But most guys find they need both temp with 2 input and humidity controller with 2 inputs. Frost-free fridges tend to be drier, whilst old fridges with panels on the back tend to be moisture. Humidity is always the one you need to play around with to get in the ‘zone’. Check out the download on DIY chamber on this page. Cheer mate, Tom

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