A large piece of raw pork belly with a reddish marinade hanging inside a curing chamber to cure.

How To Build a Curing Chamber for Dry-Cured Meat

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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.

Over the past twenty years, I have built five dry-curing environmental chambers converted from fridges and advised many people on designs and decisions related to dry-cured meat.

I want to share the discovery of this fascinating world of dry-cured meats.

You will find a massive amount of details since I’ve learned through many experiences over a few decades of making, studying, and teaching aspects of cured meats.

Key Points

  • Building a charcuterie dry curing chamber involves repurposing a fridge or wine fridge.
  • Essential components include controllers, humidifiers, racks, and optional fans or heaters.
  • Assemble the chamber, ensuring proper sealing and positioning of components.
  • Test the chamber’s conditions, adjusting temperature and humidity for optimal meat curing.
  • With attention to detail and monitoring, you can create delicious charcuterie at home.

How To Build a Curing Chamber

(click to jump)

  1. Plan the Design
  2. Acquire the Components
  3. Assemble & Build the Curing Chamber
  4. Testing the Conditions

What you will find below is a comprehensive guide from decades of work building curing chambers for dry-cured meat.

This article covers all the principles, factors, and mistakes I have learned.

Hopefully, you, too, can create your charcuterie and start curing meat for yourself.

Yield: Dry Curing Charcuterie Fridge

How to Build a Charcuterie Dry Curing Chamber

Various cuts of meat curing in a meat curing chamber, displayed in different designs to showcase the stages of meat preservation.
For a DIY dry curing chamber, the main idea is to use controllers to switch on and off the humidity and temperature systems.

It can take some playing around but it’s not about an exact temperature, you just need to have it working in a certain range to produce delicious dry-cured meats, it’s definitely worth it.

The whole point is to avoid the outside going hard before the center has dried out enough – by keeping the moisture/humidity high (around 70%).

Prep Time 3 hours
Active Time 3 hours
Additional Time 5 hours
Total Time 11 hours
Estimated Cost $250

Materials

Tools

  • Screwdriver
  • Maybe a caulking gun for silicon, depending on what silicon you buy
  • Extension power plugs, maybe power boards/double adaptors depending on your design
  • Drill for wall hole
  • Drill attachment - bimetal hole saw

Instructions

  1. Choose a fridge based on a plan to upcycle it with the components Various cuts of meat curing in a meat curing chamber, displayed in different designs to showcase the stages of meat preservation.
  2. Plug the fridge into the temperature controller, and set to 55F /12.8C with 35-40F/2-4C variation (place probe sensor inside fridge through the door to test) An open, empty refrigerator with only a few small items on the door shelves, positioned next to a stainless steel table with some cleaning supplies, and kitchen utensils hanging on a wallmounted holder.
  3. Plug Humidifier into the humidity controller, and set to 75% humidity with 7% variation (place the probe sensor inside the fridge through the door to test) Humidifieranddehumidifierlarge
  4. Test (Without meat) -You can place some paper towels with some water splashed on them, or a sponge in a bowl to mimick the freshly cured meat, which will be 70% water content to start. Schematic diagram of a climate control system with key components labeled, including mains power, dehumidifying/humidity control, cooling/heating, temperature and humidity sensors, and the controlled environment area designed
  5. The goal of between approx. 70-80% Humidity, and 50-59F/10-15C for dry curing meat. A handheld inkbird humidity and temperature monitor displaying 69. 7% relative humidity and a temperature of 75. 0 degrees fahrenheit.
  6. May be necessary to also install a dehumidifier, if fridge cycling is not dehumidifyingCured meats hanging to dry in a controlled environment with a dehumidifier to maintain optimal air quality.
  7. CAREFULLY MAKE PENETRATION for Internal Fan, use food-grade silicon sealant around the gap / low air volume can be piggybacked onto a humidity controller plug to turn on, or can be plugged in to work at the same time as an exhaust fan (testing will need to be done to see if necessary). An exhaust fan mounted on the interior wall of a fridge's external compartment, showing signs of dirt and dust accumulation.
  8. Ideally, a sealed hole for probes also through the wall could be combined to use a hole for a fan in step 7 below BE CAREFUL WITH MAKING PENETRATION, DAMAGING COOLANT PIPE WILL STOP FRIDGE WORKING An empty curing chamber interior with a detached thermostat control.
  9. Ideally with wiring plans for the fridge, cut a hole in the side for extraction fan placement to extract airAn opened creamfilled chocolate egg with a portion eaten, revealing its hollow interior, resting on a white surface with fragments scattered around.
  10. If the fridge does not have good airflow from fridge cycling, another hole for intake may be needed on the opposite wall inside the fridge (again be aware of coolant pipes/insulation/wires in the walls of the fridge. This can be simple mesh covered, HEPA or just a hole (depending on where fridge will be located) A closeup of an intake hepa filter attached to a ventilation system, working effectively while an exhaust fan is operational.
  11. Re-Test as per Steps 4 and 5, if within thresholds, continueAn empty commercial refrigerator with its door open, containing only a few small items including a portable air cooler, a water jug, and a drying cabinet on its shelves.
  12. Setup Racking System with existing shelving, L brackets, correct length rods, or expandable rodCured sausages hanging to dry in a curing chamber against a white background, showcasing a traditional method of meat preservation.
  13. Hang Dry Cured MeatSlicing homemade bread on a wooden cutting board with a bread knife.
  14. Check the humidifier every week (dependent on size)Humidifier
  15. Every month of use, check the humidifier for growth, and clean with 10/90 Vinegar and Water Mixture.A blue and white eggshaped appliance, possibly a humidifier, sitting on a shelf inside an open drying cabinet.

Notes

  • Fridge - Ideally whole fridge, no freezer compartment, and vegetable cooling boxes on the bottom can be helpful for humidifier placement
  • The hanging rack system should be worked out prior to obtaining the fridge
  • Heating for Fermentation (Optional) - Using a ceramic bulb, you can plug a heating lamp into the temperature controller, this allows you to create a warmer environment for fermenting before drying the cured meat (although you need to either have to ferment salami/meat or drying), can't do both at the same time.
  • Buy an ultrasonic humidifier (small size), that has no standby mode, so when the humidity controller switches the circuit on or off, it works

You may already have some of the tools you need, but you can do this project for under $300 most of the time. An old second-hand fridge or wine fridge forms the base for building the chamber.

The fridge insulation is suited to holding a temperature that solves one part of it.

If you aren’t keen on building a curing chamber but still want to try dry-curing meat at home, I had some trial and error but eventually got a technique to get some consistent results; check out the full post on dry-curing meat in my regular kitchen fridge here.

The main idea for a DIY chamber is to use controllers to switch the humidity and temperature systems on and off.

It can take some playing around, but it’s not about an exact temperature. You need to have it working in a certain range to produce delicious dry-cured meats. It’s worth it.

The whole point is to avoid the outside going hard before the center has dried out enough – by keeping the moisture/humidity high (around 70%).

I went a bit crazy and used a double-door 250 gal bar fridge (it was $ 400 second-hand), but I did have a plan to do large batches of dry curing since I harvest wild meat.

This can be a straightforward setup because many components are now just plugged, set & go.

You end up just plugging in the electronics you need to control the environment for charcuterie! (You may need to put some holes in for airflow, possibly a fan; some guys do, some don’t- opening the door now and then can work).

I hardwired the electrics since an Electrical Engineering friend helped put it together many years ago – thanks, Andy!

Here is another one I am using. The larger unit is now with a fan of the blog for hanging chunks of harvested deer!

Dry cured meat curing chamber large
5 Flavors, Armenian Pastirma, Spanish Lombucho, mini prosciutto (boneless), and a slow and low BBQ spice-inspired porky pig (it’s in my course this recipe…a crowd fav)

Full Details – Building A Dry Curing Chamber

1. Plan the Design

I have experimented myself and read through piles of forums, posts, and groups. The easiest options I have found are:

  • Using a Used Fridge
  • Using a Wine Fridge

The difference between these two mainly comes down to size and temperature, you can get big wine fridges, but they seem harder to find second-hand. Some wine fridges can have different settings the ‘red wine‘ setting can be just about perfect for curing meat, ie. 55-65°F/12-16°C.

Wine Coolers/Fridges also come with compressors or thermoelectric (to be avoided ideally)

For both these options, it’s mainly the humidity you have to get under control to keep the fridge within a ‘moist’ environment.

Now, some guys just hang their meat in a cellar, basement, or other area around the home. If it’s in the temperature and humidity range, it can work—however, one must expect some variation in results.

For @ home, you just need some testing with a hygrometer and thermometer (but you need these conditions for 2-3 months).

There always seems to be a steady supply of used fridges either locally or through some online classified ads. You want to think about the size when planning this out.

I went a little crazy with a double-door fridge, it can handle a lot, and I have also used it for growing mushrooms, hanging meat to age, drying fruit/spices/vegetables to make powders, fermenting beer/wine, and making jerky/biltong. (Needed heating for some of this, though)

You may need to install a few components (gear pages here) into the fridge so you want enough space to hang your glorious cured meat. Another option is piping to keep the humidifier outside the fridge area.

This is a post that will share a lot of knowledge I’ve learned about DIY charcuterie chambers. I’ve also included a link below to a small format ‘out of the box’ charcuterie fridge I’ve reviewed down below.

Used Fridge Design

Temperature & Humidity Basics

Most modern fridges are frost-free if you acquire an older fridge make sure it is frost-free. Frost-free means you have a dry environment, so you will need the minimum of a humidifier & a humidity controller (hydrostat control) to get the humidity in the target dry-cured meat range (60-75% generally).

I’ve used non-frost-free, which are doable, too; you have more moisture from the cooling panels and, therefore, need de-humidification.

The air that comes into an unmodified frost-free fridge seems to run at 20-30% humidity when I have done tests.

You want a much higher and stable-ish humidity for dry-cured meats. I will get onto this topic below.

My kitchen fridge operates around 36°F/3°C, but you want something more like 52°F/11°C for most dry-cured meat projects.

So the design will need to consider turning the compressor on the fridge on and off (with the temperature controller). Most fridges won’t get above 45°F/7°C when in regular operation, even on the highest setting.

Most fridges have an adjustable thermostat built-in, my old double-door fridge did. However, it couldn’t reach the desired meat-curing chamber setting, so I needed to modify it.

Some basic DIY skills will be required for this job.

If you don’t feel confident, you may want to enlist an electrically minded friend to help out, but you can get away with the plug-and-play method quite quickly (I’ll email you plans, too).

If the whole area is a fridge (no freezer area), you don’t have to pull out the reciprocating saw or another cutting device to join the areas.

You don’t need a freezer area for this project, though many fridges will have one. I have worked on a few, just cutting a hole between the 2 chambers will mean you can control the environment in both areas (it’s messy, insulation, wiring, and coolant pipes all can create issues).

If you want you can leave the freezer area and just use the fridge part for curing the meat. Cutting through the fridge/insulation area – you need to be careful of any wires/pipes.

If you can get hold of the schematic plans and wiring of the fridge, you will get more information to work with. Once you have identified the wiring/coolant pipes, it makes the modification a lot easier.

Hanging Rack Design

My old fridge was huge, so I don’t have a space issue, what I’ve seen with smaller units using a metal L bracket on both sides of the fridge at the top is possible.

You then can slide in and out a bar/wooden stick.

Or, in one instance, I used the rack and chopstick method below!

Hanging salami in curing chamber large
I Used Chopsticks For Hanging, S Hooks On A Metal Bracket Are Another Common Way

Your hooks will then go onto this bar or wooden stick.

I had too much salami after processing 80lb/40kg of wild beef (cattle beast), venison, and pork. I drilled holes in the ‘condiment holders’ on the door. This allows me to thread more salamis up through the holes and secure them with…chopsticks of course.

I also needed 75 hooks for this batch!

Or an expandable shower curtain bar like this can work. I have a page on hooks/racks here! Thicker ones definitely can hold more weight.

A lot of variations in salami made at home hanging in a diy curing chamber, which is a converted domestic fridge, the door is open to see all the salami.
Went a little crazy with a lot of wild cattle beast meat and harvested wild venison – Dry Cured Salami Flavors – Picante Soppressata, Pepperoni, Hungarian Smoked, Balinese Sucuck (Ginger, Garlic, Turmeric, Galangal) and Turkish Sucuck (Ginger, Cumin, Garlic)

Controller Designs

There are two ways I have found to do this: the hard (wired) way and the easy plug-in way.

Plug-In Controllers – Easy Way

Meat slicer curing chamber diy large
Toys? No, not at all.

Temperature

When I first saw this option, it was quite the wow moment. I wished the first time I designed my chamber, that I had seen these! It takes much of the ‘hard’ electrical know-how out of the project.

Think about where you want this component mounted on the outside of the fridge. Then, you will have a wire for the temperature probe/sensor running in the fridge. You will want the sensor located around the middle of the refrigerator to give an accurate reading.

You want a quality controller after the time invested into making proper salumi or salumi – having a fault is not what you want—I heard a few stories about going cheap that didn’t work out very well.

Most of the time, I keep a close eye on the curing chamber. There are even some wifi options for remote monitoring.

A temperature controller does the same job as the built-in fridge thermostat. You are in control and can cycle on the fridge less to reach the target dry curing temperature.

Getting to the 50-60°F/10-15°C range you need for longer-term cured meats is as simple as switching the compressor on and off through the controller.

Humidity

You will find it’s a similar process for designing the humidity control. You want to mount a humidity controller on the outside of the fridge. Then have the probe/sensor positioned inside the fridge around the middle for the most accurate readings.

Curing chamber sensors large
Temperature and humidity Sensors

When drilling holes, consider the internal wiring/pipes through the insulation. Hopefully, you can get schematic plans showing where all the wires and pipes are.

Hardwired Controllers

I had to enlist the help of an electrical friend to do this part on some curing chambers.

Building curing chamber large
Setting up the hardwired controller system

When making holes in a fridge, the less, the better. An enclosure to keep the controllers makes my setup much tidier for a hardwired option.

Humidifier Inside or Outside Fridge

Some guys I know decided to put the humidifier outside the chamber. Then, you use some hosing or pipe to enter the curing chamber. This can create more space for hanging cured meat!

The humidifier can generate heat for smaller curing chambers, so having it on the outside can help keep it cooler.

The Used Wine Fridge Option

Wine fridges seem to keep in the right temperature area often. My friends have a setting for champagne, white, and red wine. It even maintains about 55-75°F. It doesn’t seem to quite get the airflow even though there is a fan built into it.

The designs I have seen involve a hydrometer hooked up to a humidity controller. This worked great for him, but he had to open the door now and then.

2. Acquire the Components

So, the equipment necessary for a fridge conversion (links to some pages on recommended gear I’ve written about):

Optional

Also, a wine fridge can be compressor vs thermoelectric – but compressor wine coolers can recirculate the moisture; I’ve not tested this.

Thermoelectric is ideally avoided.

For the Wine Fridge if it can hit the temperature/humidity you are after, much simpler, but you probably will need to add this stuff:

Optional

Tools

  • Drill and Drill bits
  • Food-grade sealant (for holes)
  • Screwdrivers

It’s all good from here. You should have a decent plan, but just make sure you are aware of modifying a fridge safely if you cut/drill into it.

Many guys just run the cords through the fridge door so they don’t have to drill into the insulated walls (the schematic of the fridge helps see the wiring).

Things I have learned are:

Testing the Temperature and humidity

Having a secondary portable testing apparatus for temperature and humidity can help a lot. You will find different readings in different areas of the chamber, apart from positioning sensors around the middle of the chamber.

You will want to maybe think about equipment placement before starting alterations of course. The plans I can email you show example diagrams & pics).

Humidity & Temperature

Humidifier – Ultrasonic Type

Ensure the humidifier is ultrasonic since it has a much finer mist output.

The tank size of 2-quart minimum, you don’t want to be filling up the humidifier every day. If you get cycling and design right, maybe only every week. But it will also depend on your space inside the fridge.

Dehumidifier (Dependent on Design)

It is important to get the right size in proportion to the chamber. You also want to consider the tank.

Some humidifiers have external drainage outlets, which can also be used in the design. I didn’t worry about this, and most people will find you don’t need to empty the tank that often, maybe once every week or two if the environment is reasonably stable.

Most people end up getting one, I have written the reasons and some links to a few that people have used, check out the dehumidifiers here.

Cooling Function – the Right Temperature

Because I went a bit crazy with the size, my issue is the compressor pumping much drier air into the chamber, this hasn’t been an issue with frost-free second-hand fridges. I find that cooling cycling takes quite some time to keep the temperature around 52°F/11°C; covering the area where the cool air gets pumped has improved my results.

The delay functions on controllers are important, you want to ‘rest’ the compressor between cycles for longevity.

With smaller units like bar fridges, the small area should also be easier to control, with less cycling of temperature or humidity.

Heating – for Fermentation, Humidity Control & Drying

Several designs, including my own, have included some form of heating.

A normal light bulb can be used, through experience I have learned this isn’t a good idea.

Light in the curing chamber affects the meat’s bacteria and fat.

If you think about those giant Parma Ham and prosciutto hanging in Italy, they tend to be in darkened areas.

Using a non-light-emitting bulb (ceramic—it does sound crazy) will work very well. When you put this on a variable controller or hook it up to your temperature controller, you can produce some heat to cycle on and off, which, in turn, will lower the humidity a bit.

These types of adjustable ceramic bulbs are used in reptile enclosures, not the easiest to find, but here is a page on them I wrote about factors to get the right one.

Air Flow

Fans are a great way of bringing air into and taking air out of the curing chamber. If you choose a plug-and-play design control system, you can have the plug share one of the controllers or hardwire to one of the inputs.

What I mean by this is, that you will have the fan on when the cooling happens to exchange some of the air in the chamber. Here is a page I wrote on fans that suit this application.

Some people get away with just leaving the door open every day or two to exchange the air. It works, of course, but it does mean higher management and possibly more funkiness growing.

Filtering Air – HEPA

After a few years, I decided to dissect a new HEPA filter for a vacuum cleaner. I used this to filter the incoming air. For obvious reasons, having filtered air helps protect that precious white penicillin culture that will eventually thrive in your curing chamber.

Here is a link to Amazon to show you what I used for a filter.

Hanging & Rack Design

I got lucky with my large fridge since I could set up hooks easily since it had adjustable shelving.

What most people do is with a metal bracket system along the top of the fridge. Since you will be hanging most of the meat, you want to get the maximum amount of hanging space.

Just be careful about mounting the bracket if you have a diagram of the wiring. It’s repetitive, I know, but it’s important. It will help avoid making holes and damaging any electrics running through the fridge’s insulation.

S hooks are a great way of hanging meat. Because you will be checking the weight loss often, you want something that can quickly be taken off and hung back up. I have gone through a phase of tying and untying, which isn’t very efficient.

I also came up with an expandable rod idea for no penetrations; you can check it out on the curing chamber rack system page here.

Controllers Plug & Play / Hardwired

It is important to have controllers that can handle all the various plugs. Some friends have opted for simpler controllers and then needed to add more components.

Plug & Play Humidity Controllers

Some excellent plugin controllers have been proven for specific applications and do a great job for DIY meat-curing chambers.

Curing chamber with controllers large

I wrote about why these are decent curing chamber controllers here.

An issue you may have is not being able to bring down humidity, you may be relying on the cooling compressor in the fridge to help decrease the humidity (or a heat source if you go down that track).

You could look at the variable-control ceramic bulb heat option to help control this, but to be honest, a dehumidifier is a good option.

1/16 DIN Humidity Controller (Hardwired)

This is the hardwired option. I would only suggest it if you are electrically qualified or have an electrician friend.

I have used this device for temperature control (but they also do temp or humidity versions), and it has worked well for many years. However, the programming is not user-friendly, so we have to read the instructions seriously. I know it’s a pain, but I think it’s because of this humidifier controller’s commercial application.

I’ve seen this controller in butchers’ and delis’ controlling walk-in chiller rooms, for instance.

You need to understand how the buttons and options work, setting the higher and lower humidity thresholds and the variations when it turns the circuits on.

I would still recommend these for a hardwired option. If I ever wanted to go even bigger, I know this controller would be reliable.

On the dependable gear-controller page, I have put some more information; check it out here.

You also need an enclosure for the controller like this. It is a bad photo. Here are the boxes on Amazon to give you a better idea of what they look like. I would say 12 inches across, at least, if you are putting a temperature and humidifier controller in—Amazon link here.

Drilling the right size holes and putting some conduit connector fittings on will hold it all in place.

Enclosure curing chamber large 1
Temperature / Humidity – 2 Inputs / Wifi

This is your option if you want to control it via phone or computer from anywhere. When I next upgrade the curing chamber, I will get this. How cool would it be if you could see the curing chamber stats from anywhere in the world?

I would use two of these: one for temperature using a ceramic bulb and the fridge compressor (heating and cooling), and a second one for humidifier and dehumidifier—complete control over the curing chamber.

3. Assemble & Build the Curing Chamber

Here are some things you will probably need:

  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Screwdrivers
  • Metal Saw
  • Ruler
  • Kitchen grade sealant
  • Hooks and rack fixtures

Sterilize Once the Fridge is Empty

Wiping the inside well with bleach before using it will get the chamber off to the best start.

Remember, you are trying to control nature so that the outcomes can vary, but once the penicillin finds an invisible home in the curing chamber, you will indeed have ongoing success!

Using plain vinegar (white, malt, or red wine – anything that works) to wipe off the not-so-good bacteria may be more necessary at the start when good mold is still developing a home.

Please ensure all the power is off to the fridge before commencing any modification for safety’s sake.

Other Important Tools for Meat Curing

  • Accurate Digital Scales
  • Zip-lock bags
  • Butchers Twine

When you cut into the structure of a fridge, it is usually filled with foam insulation. This can get rather messy, and it can be difficult to find the wiring that goes through this insulation.

Simple Wine Fridge Design

You can get away with minimal modification if you have the right environment. Airflow, hanging system, and humidity control will be most important.

Some people find it a bit restrictive in space. But it depends on how much cured meat you want to hang!

4. Testing the Chamber

I aim for about 5-10% variation in target humidity (70% mostly) and a 36-40°F/ 3-4°C variation in temperature.

It will depend on what you are making, but let’s generalize.

Temperature

Lower temps mean slower drying.

LowIdealHigh
46°F52°F60°F
8°C11°C15°C

Humidity

The more challenging variable.

Target 70% plus/minus 5-10%

(70-80% is where I like it generally)

It can take some fine-tuning to get this consistent, and it will change as it passes through the chamber.

The key does not have big variation; I have found the salumi doesn’t like it, but once it has lost most of its weight, it is more resilient.

Getting to know the cycling of the compressor will take a bit of time.

Double-checking the results with analog humidity and temperature gauges can be really helpful. Some guys I know have had to calibrate the thermostats. I haven’t had these issues at all.

Easier Solution for Drying Out on the Outside

If the cured meat is hard on the outside but hasn’t lost 35% weight, you can vacuum seal it and leave it in the kitchen fridge for 2-4 weeks. This will help it equalize evenly (it is often done for salumi and salami produced at home).

Some guys do this for months or years!

Final Thoughts & Resources

Now, if you got this far, congratulations.

I have also reviewed an ‘out-of-the-box’ dry curing (dry aging, too) small-format charcuterie chamber because I am sure a group will not want to have a conversion DIY project.

Many options were $2,000-3,000, however, $1,200 solution has now been on the market for some time, I have the Pro 40 and it looks like this (here is a post I wrote all about it).

Dry curing meat is not quite a science—many call it an art and a craft. You can look at it scientifically. However, you will never be entirely in control since nature always dictates in some way.

I enjoy the balancing of varying factors the most. Results aren’t guaranteed, like all aspects of life!


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Comments

  1. Hi

    I am a beginner on this, converting a fridge to a drying chamber for our son. I found your article the most helpful so far, easy to read, not too much tech. Stuff and a clear step be step guide

    The one thing I need now is to put the fridge to a test on drying a piece of meat, but where can I get some practical advise on that

    Thank you a million for your article

    Bob

    1. Author

      Hey Bob, glad you found the post useful!

      If you want to see if it works, it’s generally trial and error. If it was me, I would start with a small piece of meat definitely so see how it goes.
      Sometimes it just takes time for ‘natural’ white powdery penicillin to grow inside the curing chamber. But if you get a little bit of non-‘flour’ looking mold, you just wipe off whatever else with some vinegar.

      If the curing chamber can operate around 70% humidity (variation of 5-10% doesn’t matter too much) and you can keep the temperature around 52F / 11C (some variation doesn’t matter either – 2-4 C deg or + or – 35 deg F. You will be on to the right track. Whenever you put in new cured meat, obviously the humidity will be higher due to moisture on the meat.

      This post may help if you haven’t seen it – How to Cure Meat at Home
      Hope this helps,
      Tom

  2. Thanks for the article. I am following your suggestions and have ordered the relevant bits and pieces. This will be my first attempt at Salamy etc. Your directions are simple and easy to understand. Thanks again. Lockie

    1. Author

      Hi Lockie,
      Hey thanks, heaps, appreciate your comment and glad its be helpful.:-)

      If you need any help, just fire through the questions.

      All the best,
      Tom

  3. Hi, this is a great article and website, thanks for making it!

    i’ve just set my curing chamber up but having problems with the humidity controller (WH8040, i think the same as linked), it just displays the HHH error but i can’t for the life of me find anything in the instructions or online on how to fix that. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers

    1. Author

      Hey Patrick, I dug this up for you -….” PU:Delay to start,When relay stop output and start timing,the interval of time must greater than delay start time to avoid start frequently.HP:temperature upper limit alarm:when temperature exceed upper limit alarm,digital tube display”HHH”,temperature lower than alarm setting it will return back from alarm automatically.”

  4. Hi Tom,

    in the section of the testing of the fridge, you give the temperature range, for Celsius i think it is okay but for Fahrenheit don’t you mean to say 52F + or – 5.4F? Because while it is true that 3 Celsius is 34F as a temperature, 1 degree Celsius change is 1.8F so 52F + or – 34F would mean that a temperature between 18F and 86F is okay. That would translate in to -7.8 Celsius to 30 Celsius. While you mean to say somewhere between 8 and 15 Celsius (which is what you do on the Celsius part of that section but not on the Fahrenheit part).

    For the rest this is a wealth of information! Thank you and keep up the good work!

  5. I’m just starting out with a new curing set up but I’m finding it difficult to control the humidity during the compressor cycling. I have it set to 11C (+2/-1) and 70% (+10/-2). It takes it approx. 45-60 min for it to climb from 11 to 13C which is the upper limit that I set. during this time the humidity is fine. But once the compressor and fan kick on the humidity drops to ~58%. It jumps back up to ~75% relatively quick (few mins). I;m running it empty at the moment to get the timing down before trying bresaola. My humidifier is on the bottom. would it help to move it up in the chamber?
    Any other thoughts or suggestions?

    1. Author

      depends on the fridge/compressors. I had a commerical type that did dry out things a little fast too. Can try diffusing the fan if the compressor has one, so its not so direct. This is the variation one gets with fridges and part of the challenge!

  6. Hello, I have a small refrigerator that I’m looking into converting I did my research and downloaded the instruction Manuel for it. The only thing concerning me is it says in the notes that if the refrigerator is turned off or unplugged at all you have to wait 3 minutes to turn it back on or it will not work. Will this be affected by the plug and play controllers that were suggested for this build?
    Thanks
    Brian

    1. Author

      not sure! lots of variables in this craft my friend. From what I’ve seen compressors on ‘most’ fridges are fine. And usually due to the insulations it shouldn’t cycle on for 10 mins + anyhow! Cheers Tom

  7. Why would you avoid a Thermoelectric fridge?

    I live in a very small apartment so I am looking to make a curing chamber out of a wine cooler fridge.
    This fridge will be in the living area so noise will be a factor I consider. I have seen most wine fridges seem to be about 42 decibel range for the small size I am considering.

    1. Author

      Haven’t tried one, but supposedly with no drying effect from the compressor, it may take a lot of controller work with a dehumidifier and humidifier to keep in a good range.

  8. im going for the wine fridge route. do you have a bit more details on the frequency and how long he opens the wine fridge door?

    1. Author

      couple a mins every day maybe, they all seem to be a bit different. avoid thermoelectric as mentioned, go for compressor. Cheers Tom

  9. Hi,

    Firstly, love the website. Finding it super useful as a reliable, consistent source of fact-based info.

    I’ve been curing smaller, whole muscles for a while now and would like to move on to larger projects (e.g. coppa) and salamis that may take 3 months or more to cure fully. I only have a small fridge and don’t really want to occupy it entirely for so long with these bigger pieces.

    So my question is; how sensitive are larger cuts/salamis to temp/humidity variations later >1 month into curing – my gut feel is ‘less so’ but would welcome your opinion, based on experience of other products/techniques. Reason for asking is that I live in a warmer, humid part of the world and I can probably achieve 60-80% humidity and 18-22 degrees C for half the year in a storeroom. So I’m wondering whether after the first month or so, when water concentrations decrease most rapidly, and relative salt/cure concentrations have increased along with the acidity a bit, I could shift salamis etc. to this warmer, less controlled environment. Or would I the case hardening/spoilage risk be simply too high in this range of conditions. Cure 2 would be used by default for salamis, cure 1 would be optional for coppa and could be used if it would add significant protection in this specific application.

    I realise there’s no absolutes here, but some help understanding the relative risk and whether this idea is a non-starter would be appreciated!

    1. Author

      Hey Gareth, glad you’re getting amongst it, nice!
      Please note these are guesses/observations!
      I’ve often come across dry cured meats in Italy and Spain where meat is just hung in the Salumeria (Italian dry-cured delis) and cafe/restaurants etc. Though this is after prob 30+ % weight loss.
      That white penicillin, if you have a decent bloom, helps a lot with the moisture loss regulation which prevents case hardening. Case hardening can be countered, by vacpac after weight loss to equalize the dry/moist bits.
      You could try and just keep a very close eye on it….
      Sliced salumi that I’ve put on boards, seem to start ‘sweating’ the fat around that 20C ish
      I remember in some airport in Europe, they had a Jamon specialist deli, they had about 50 dry-cured pork legs hanging, it was prob 22-24C – but the skin was likely to by stopping excess drying too
      I’ve always found up to 17-18C ok, 20+ not sure.
      Parma prosciutto producers I’ve visited (in Parma) have controlled environments for 3 months, then – when it’s not raining they leave the windows open, when it’s raining they don’t (80,000 pork legs a year, this is for 9+ months), again skin regulates moisture loss better (and the sugna lard paste they put onto exposed meat). FYI 2-3% pork leg wastage is acceptable in the dry curing pork leg industry! Reasons unknown…we can’t control everything!
      You have to make the call my friend!
      Cheers
      T

  10. I used a Chest freezer because I could get a cheap one. I found I needed a dehumidifier rather than a humidifier since there’s no drain and the cooling coils and all embedded in the walls. It was very easy to run all the wires in the back and it’s doing a great job so far. I’ll update when I get some meat out of it. The inkbird controllers are working pretty good, might do some more tinkering with the settings to get it to track a bit closer to my set points.

    1. Author

      sounds good, did you create airflow in / out? my chest freezer is just walls, I havent converted a chest freezer, but i used one as a ‘meat safe’ when harvesting wild game in the back of the truck, I ran it off a inverter. It didnt like the controller cycling it and had a fault. So i just hope the cycling of a freezer on/off wont wear out faster then a fridge, cheers Tom

  11. Hi Tom,
    Great article.
    If i have a Glass Front Wine Fridge that has a temp range of 5 c – 20 c will i still need an external Temp Controller.
    Thanks

    1. Author

      … did you get my pdf on diy conversion? should be on this page somewhere. dont think so, but depends always on design. humidity is key for long term. also too much light on a glass door can make fat go yellow rancid, a friend had this on a large commerical double door stagionella fridge! Cheers TOm

  12. Hi ! Thanks for your Blog it is really interesting.
    I made ine chamber already with a chiller. I would like to make a second one. I’m hesitant to get a Chiller with a inverter to save energy. Will it still work with a chiller with a inverter?
    Thanks for your insight

    1. Author

      Did the chiller run at a lower humidity? They generally do if compressor.
      I’ve ‘heard. you will need more control of humidity since inverter wont be running as dry.
      All the best,
      Tom

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