Monthly Archives: January 2011

The curing box

“Dry-curing” is a misnomer, from my point of view inside a very, very dry house. Every morning this week, I’ve woken up a desiccated shred of a human being and been forced to gulp my weight in water so that humanity returns to me. The dryness is making my cold worse, not curing it.

The sausage and I are on the same page with this one.

This weekend, I ground and stuffed Tuscan salami, my first attempt at dry-curing. I also discovered that my basement/curing cellar is running around 40 percent humidity — much lower than the 60-70 percent recommended. If the casings dry out and harden, they no longer allow water from the inside of the sausage to escape — i.e., the magic of dry-curing.

I spritzed the sausages hourly while I mulled what to do.

I was going to add a humidifier to the basement, but my neighbor pointed out that basements typically do not respond well to wetness.

Ruhlman and Polcyn, in Charcuterie, suggest an old fridge, unplugged, with salted water in the bottom to keep the humidity up (salted to discourage germ growth). But my local thrift shops had nothing. Freecycle and Craigslist did not provide. And I’m not all that keen, anyway, on adding another big appliance to the basement.

So my curing box, at the moment, is a cardboard box. It has plastic duct-taped to line the insides, a pan of water in the bottom and a dowel thrust through the handles. It’s a little small for the purpose, but humidity is at 70 percent and holding. The ne plus ultra of climate control, if not of elegance. The experiment is off and running. Now it’s time to pray to the iodophore gods that our sanitation was sufficient, and that the Bactoferm F-RM-52 is able and energetic, and that the cats do not escape into the basement and make trouble.

And now I just need a dry-curing box for myself.