Pancetta - Part 2

For updated information about making a curing chamber see - Converting a Fridge into a Curing Chamber

The Pancetta I started on the 13th November was left to cure a week longer than I had planned as I was curing other things like ham in the fridge that I use. The temperature requirements for curing and drying are different, curing at below 8°C and drying at 12-15°. With the types of cure that I use, this is not a problem as the salt and cure that is put on the meat is the same as the level I require in the product; unlike some older curing methods, the finished meat can never get too salty.

The pancetta has now been washed, dried off, and coated with a light dusting of black pepper, bay leaves and a little dried red chilli.

It'll hang in the fridge to air-dry for anything from two weeks to a month; ideally at 12-15°C with a relative humidity of around 70%. Now, the temperature I can control easily 'cos my good mate and electronic wizard Malcolm (some say he can actually see electric) Tarratt has made me a special controller to do just that...

Temperature control

Controlling the humidity is a little more problematic, not least because my digital thermometer/hygrometer seems to be on the blink! Usually a tray of damp salt will get the humidity to hover around 70% - at the moment it's reading 95%. Whether this is just the hygrometer reading incorrectly, or whether it's because the humidity at the moment is high anyway, is yet to be seen. Certainly, in the past, the problem has been getting the humidity in the 'fridge' up to 70 not down to it! This is not a major issue with Pancetta but will need sorting out before I air-dry sausage, where the humidity is more important. Anyway, here's the Pancetta now...

The Pancetta drying

The spots are the the black pepper mix - not mould or muck!

For the curing instructions please see the previous entry... Pigs and Pancetta>
For the finished product please see - Pancetta Part 3 - ready to use

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There are two comments

This Little Piggy

Just followed the link to your blog from the sausagemaking forum, as I also have a keen interest in local foods. Got to this post as pancetta is a passion of mine. I’ve made the recipe in Ruhlman’s book a number of times, but now I’m hungrily searching for more.

Anyway, the real reason for this post is that I’ve also experienced some ups and downs in the humidity in my meat-curing fridge, depending on the weather, the time of year, how much fresh meat has been added recently, etc. What has really worked for me is to buy bags of silica crystals in different sizes and then swap those in and out to keep the humidity where I want it. When they become saturated, I just dry them out in a low oven for a few hours and they’re ready to reuse. In a small space like yours, you wouldn’t need much!

This Little Piggy, (Email ) (URL) - 05-12-’08 18:19

Ah, the humidity – the problems gone away since I bought a new hygrometer!;-)

Silica crystals are a good option as is the fluid used in cigar humidors, 50% propylene glycol and 50% distilled water.

The humidity as I say, is now fine, air-flow may need looking at though. I’ve made more holes in the box (the fridge produces quite an internal draft when working) I may supplement this with a computer fan.

Good to see you on the forum.


Phil, - 05-12-’08 19:38

I'm somewhat incapacitated at present so replies may take some time. Please post urgent enquiries at the forum.

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