Air Dried Meat and Sausage

From childhood I was told never to eat raw pork or sausage, so the concept of air drying meat, and then eating it without cooking, is somewhat alien to me. Therefore, it never ceases to amaze me how many people are happy to jump feet first into making air dried sausage, even in the middle of summer, without any form of temperature or other controls. I value my family and friends too much to take those risks.

For making air dried meats successfully, and more importantly safely, you need somewhere with the correct temperature and humidity to dry them. If you have a cool enough cellar or other area then it's fine. I don't, and with the fluctuating temperatures we now seem to get at any time of year, air drying outside or in the shed doesn't appear to be an option.

To solve the temperature problem I bought a second-hand wine fridge. However, whilst it will run at 10°C quite happily, it won't maintain the 12 to 15°C that I need. Fortunately, a friend's business makes electrical control systems and he offered to make me an independent controller for the cooler. Had I have realised that I needed this to achieve my goal, I could have adapted an old fridge which would have been a lot cheaper. Doh!

With the temperature problem solved I then had to worry about the humidity. Too high and the meat won't dry; too low and the outside will harden before the inside is dry enough to be safe. Ebay provided me with a thermometer/hygrometer for about a tenner and I found that my wine fridge fluctuates between 20% and 90% relative humidity - not good as I want to achieve 65 to 70%. I think that I have found an answer by making a box to fit inside the fridge to isolate the environment that the meat is in from the fridge itself. My woodwork is at primary school level but I have managed it - better still, it works.

The curing box

When I get the temperature controller I think I'll try some chorizo first - they don't take as long to dry as salami.

If you want to make air dried sausage - chorizo, salami, pepperoni etc - a good place for information is Adam Marianski's website. Further advice can be found on the forum and Len Poli's website.

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