View Full Version : Ready to try some Dry Curing!

01-13-2016, 01:18 PM
With the chilly winter days in florida, and my semi completed dry curing chamber, I am ready to tackle a 10# dry cure sausage. I have ordered the culture packet I intend to use, following a recipe for traditional pepperoni from the marianski book (I forget exact title, but it's about fermented meats as dry cured sausages..).

Need to find a source for good casings. Last casing I used were garbage. I want ready to stuff casings pre-tubed. Recipe calls for beef middles. Place I planned to use, phone is out of service. It was recommends to me by a local commercial deli that does their own in house sausages and dry cured and smoked meats and sausages. It's called tri state casings. Seems it might be out of business.

Any other recommended places to get casings from?


01-20-2016, 02:11 PM
I broke down and ordered a few things for making the pepperoni. Plan is to do it this weekend. Weather Saturday is high of 50. Both my kids have sport events so I am hoping that doesn't interfere with sausage plan. I suppose I could postpone to Sunday.

Need to pickup some meat to grind. Thinking mix of Pork Butt and Beef Chuck 70/30. Got my culture already to go, and awaiting casings in the mail. I also bought an inexpensive hand crank meat mixer to combine all the cure/culture/spices. Ordered casings from LEM, as they were only one I could find that offered pre-tubed casings, though not the beef middles I was looking for. I also thought that I would try using the collagen casings for greater ease. I am uncertain if the collage is suitable for a dry cured (uncooked) product though. Need to refresh my memory about the process since its been a couple years since I did sausage. I have the ability to control the temp and humidity now in my dry cure chamber, though I'd prefer to have the datalogging capability, I was not able to get that working how I liked. Seems that the dorm fridge keeps appropriate humidity most all the time without needing any artificial humidity added.


01-23-2016, 11:06 PM
Dick, I hope you don't mind, but I split this topic off from the "Sausage Curing Info" and into it's own thread, because I think it's going to be a good one, and I can't wait to see your dry-cure chamber in action!

For whatever reason I missed your earlier post, and wish I'd seen it sooner.

For pepperoni, I like a higher ratio of pork to beef, so I think your ration of 70% pork to 30% beef is good.

My understanding for Collagen casings is they are not great for dry curing, because they won't shrink with the meat as it looses moisture while curing. My understanding is natural or fibrous casings work best for dry curing.

The casings on tubes that I am familiar with are still not truly "ready to stuff." They are packed in salt and still require a water soak. I actually didn't care for them, BUT the ones I had were much smaller sheep casings, which tend to be harder to work with anyway, because they are just more fragile.

One more thing...

I'll be watching!

02-01-2016, 06:54 PM

Well, the plan was to do this last Sunday, but I had forgotten about a children's Birthday Party (not mine!) that I had to go to. That ended up being an all day affair. Meat went into freezer.

This would be a good point to pose the question: "Which cuts of meat are best suited for the home sausage maker?"
I am not sure myself. Supposedly "pepperoni" is a "lean" sausage, though I have always thought it was rather fatty.
I of course bought the On Sale meats including a two for one Pork Loin, and some "Sirloin" roasts. Not much fat on those. I might need to add some fat from maybe some Chuck or Pork Butt.

Otherwise I think I should be ready to go. I need to finagle the final temp controller and humidity controller into the dry cure "Fridge" I have. I was never able to get the Arduino programmable controller and datalogging working correctly, though I suspect there is a better way, but for this time, I'm planning to do the dry cure pepperoni recipe straight out the Marianski book.

The "chamber" is a dorm type fridge which I have holes cut into the bottom with a PC case fan mounted (will see how long the fan lasts) or sandwiched between the bottom of the fridge and a custom wooden cabinet into which an "ultrasonic" humidifier is placed. An STC-1000 temp controller and a similar designed stand-alone Humidity controller will be used to set the temperature and humidity levels. Each has its own sensing probe placed into the chamber. The fan will supply air circulation. Upper exhaust fans might be drilled into the fridge top and used to lower humidity at some point, though I suspect based on a humidity sensor I've placed in the fridge now will give me the appropriate humidity without need to lower other than just having the humidifier left off. I may purchase an inexpensive logging sensor to monitor the curing process this time, but the ultimate goal is to have a single programmable way to set each phase, including temp and fan and humidity controls, as well as duration, and data logging. I haven't figured the best way to do this yet.

Maybe this upcoming weekend I'll have a window, but would prefer a chilly below 60 day for safer meat handling. The freeze should help eradicate some too.


02-02-2016, 09:46 PM
Supposedly "pepperoni" is a "lean" sausage, though I have always thought it was rather fatty.

Wow, I have to agree with you. I have seen "leaner" pepperoni, but it sucks. When I tried to do a pepperoni with lean ground beef and pork, it did not have enough fat and turned out very dry and crumbly.

I now use ground beef with AT LEAST a 20% fat content and ground pork, again with AT LEAST a 20% fat content. For good fat marbling in cured sausages, I really prefer the fat to have a course grind.

I of course bought the On Sale meats including a two for one Pork Loin, and some "Sirloin" roasts. Not much fat on those. I might need to add some fat from maybe some Chuck or Pork Butt.

I think those cuts of meat are DEFINITELY too lean for what you want to do. Check with your butcher to see if they have some fatty pork trimmings. Pork fat has a couple benefits over beef fat: 1) It has a higher melting point (won't make much difference for dry-cured, but great for hot-smoked sausages). 2) Pork fat is easier to digest than beef fat.

02-03-2016, 11:01 AM
Yeah, I'm going to stop at the store today so I will see what I can find. I might use the meat I have and just add some fat in. I had some nice hunks of fat that came on one of the bacon slabs I did but I foolishly tossed it. It had been cured and smoked too, but had to be trimmed to slice the meaty part of the slab. I should have saved it. Hopefully this weekend I can do the pepperoni grind and stuff.

The local Publix had not much to choose from as far as fatty cuts. I'll try to check another butcher shop, but the best I could score was some fresh pork bellies. I've NEVER seen them before at this chain. Not the fattiest of bellies I've ever seen. Terrible price too (4.29/lb..)

Any other suggestions on which cuts from pork will be fattiest? I'm thinking an untrimmed shoulder would be the easiest to find.

02-07-2016, 03:31 PM
So, Pepperoni is now in the fermentation stage.

I ended up using the Marianski Recipe with a few modifications (or goof ups)
Called for 70% pork/30% lean beef.
I goofed and used 70% beef/30% pork about 10# worth. two boneless chuck roasts, one sirloin tip roast, two fresh pork bellies (hated to do that to them, but I couldn't find any other fatty pork at the supermarket!!) I ground them up with the 1/4" plate as opposed to the recommended 3/16" plate. The #22 throat made FAST work of the grinding.
I mixed the meat in the manual meat mixer (from sausage maker dot com site) along with the spices per the recipe, including Cure #2 and the culture, T-SPX. I briefly read the instructions on the packet of the culture (which apparently will last me a long time as it says it can do 200kg of meat) and the Marianski recipe called for 1/4 tsp as opposed the the packaging suggested 1/2 tsp for 10# of meat.
So I ended up with 10.5 lbs of meat pre-grinding.

After mixing, I loaded my stuffer (and didn't connect the plate correctly - omitting the wing-nut and letting meat get into the threaded stem of the pusher bar...). I couldn't find "beef middles" that the recipe called for. I recall from previous sausage making efforts that the casing is the MOST CRITICAL in my opinion regarding how frustrating the stuff process is. Because of this, I decided to use fibrous casings. I picked 2-1/2" diameter x 20" long casings, with string closure one one end. I ended up getting 3 stuffed plus a partial stuffed casing. Weights were 3x2.9lb and 1x1.4lb. a 30% target shrink weight results in about 7 lbs of finished sausage and the math jives with the wet weight of my stuffed casings. I used zip ties, and and followed up with some present wrapping ribbon, lacking any proper string (thanks to my daughter who used it all without telling me it was gone, probably for some school project), to close the opposite end after the stuffing.

So the dry cure chamber I built I have other things (homebrew) in right now. Plus the initial ferment phase calls for 90-95% Relative Humidity. I had read about an alternative method which I employed, fermenting in a water bath. I used a homebrewing food grade fermentation bucket, dangling the links into the bucket suspended by a square metal 1/4" rod I had initially bought to use as a smokestick in the MAK, and weighing them down with a bolt tied to the ribbon, otherwise they floated up, probably because of the fat. I suspended them by the strings on the casings, and put labels on the string (which I hope do not breakdown, though with only four links, three visibly larger all being in near equal weight, this won't be a problem). I filled the bucket, technically a bottling bucket with a spigot hole at the base, and plugged the hole from inside out with a stopper, and placed it in my sink in case it leaked.

Then I grabbed my immersion cooker to place in the water bath and set it for 68. They will sit for three nights, and in the meantime, I'll clear out the dry cure chamber and prepare it for later this week when stage 2 begins.

Stage 2 will begin by first conditioning the links by removing from water bath and wiping them dry, let sit for 1-6 hour at room temp until dry to touch. Then drying begins and I'll place them in the curing chamber set to 60-54F at 80-85% R.H. (that's relative humidity for those who were wondering) for 6-8 weeks, slowiy decreasing the relative humidity to 65-70%.

Luckily in FL, dehumidification will probably NOT be a problem. My "chamber" has a natural RH between 45-55%, and temps 42-52. I am hoping that I'll only need to use the ultrasonic humidifier for first couple weeks. It might hold the R.H. I want with the sausages hanging without manipulation.

I snapped some pictures along the way. I recall that I was never very good at posting pictures here. I need to figure out how to do that.

Here is the recipe by the way for 10# meat (70% Pork/30% Beef - ground in 3/16" plate)
salt 140g
Cure #2 12g
Dextrose (aka Corn Sugar) 10 g
Sugar 30g
Black Pepper 15g
Paprika 30g
Anise Seed, cracked 12.5g (man these guys are small! I had to run them through a pepper mill!)
Cayenne 15g
Culture T-SPX 1/4tsp

Oh yeah. Cleanup and the whole overall process was pretty dang quick. Love those fibrous casings. Took about three hours with setup and cleanup and all. Still have gear drying to put away 5 minutes for that.

02-11-2016, 04:46 PM
Ok Folks! Pictures hopefully going up tonight..

The fermentation phase is complete. I spent last night trying to get the dry cure chamber functional, with partial success, and ironed out the problematic bad electrical crimp I didn't notice tonight. Now is functional! Not the "smart" datalogging capable setup I had planned, but so far so good, and with a little free time, I can hopefully get some datalogging capabilities. Its now in the drying phase.


try this link for photos:

I think its working for me at least through firefox browser.

02-12-2016, 09:02 AM
Dick, my firefox won't let me view the pics. It's coming up with a security issue.

Why not just embed the photos directly into your post? It's a lot easier to view them this way, and it's easy with FireFox and copy/paste.

Once your photos are uploaded to the photo hosting site, right click on the photo you want to embed and click "Copy Image Location".

Then in your post, click the "Insert Image" button (make sure the "From URL" tab is selected, NOT "From Computer"), paste the image location (you just copied), into the box, and click, "OK"

The image tags and URl will be added for you into the post, and when you save the post the photo will show up right in the post.

02-12-2016, 09:17 AM
Ok will try tonight.

02-12-2016, 08:45 PM
Hmm. I happen to know the hosting site is safe, its my NAS. I don't have a photobucket account. See if you can ignore the security error.
I hooked a vinyl hose to the humidifier and snake it right into the fridge now. Also the fan isn't working, but the replacemebe should be here tomorrow. Need to get some air circulation going.


02-13-2016, 07:45 PM
At this point I think my current setup is a proof of concept. Finally added fans today to get some circulation. Still haven't drill exhaust holes, but from what I've read, a fridge will lower Relative Humidity values to 40-50% which is too low for dry cured meats, so I am wondering if the vents are necessary at all. One thing for sure, lots of condensate at 83% R.H. it is set at right now. I've been lowering it about 1-2 points after each 3 days, or at least that is the plan.

Any luck on viewing the pictures? I am self-hosting on my NAS device.


02-13-2016, 08:43 PM
Dick, I had to add a security exception to be able to view the pics. I'd have to do that for each and every photo album you create.

It really is much easier for everyone viewing if the photos were embedded into the post, because a lot of folks may not feel comfortable creating security exceptions.

Another option is to upload them as attachments (insert image - from your computer). The only issues with this are 1) this creates more bandwidth overhead for the forum, and 2) Only forum members who are logged in can view attachments.

Just trying to give you options to make your post easier to follow. :)


02-14-2016, 08:38 AM
OK Cliff! My first "photobucket" post!

Soaking the fibrous casings. I selected 2.5" x 20" for these sausages

Grinding. This went very fast.

Mixing & Filling Stuffer

Stuffing the last casing (that's my son helping)

Into water bath fermentation. The temp had crept up from the set point of 68 up to 74 degrees by the end. I think was because the fermentation created heat and the immersion impeller running, but probably more of the added heat came from the cold weather and the heater running in the room.

Into the dry cure chamber. They "conditioned" at room temp for about 3 hours immediately after the water bath fermentation lasting 4 days. The water in the bucket was kind of smelly and oddly colored afterward.

Two shots of the humidification running. I read in my book that you begin R.H. at 85% but I think its probably best to keep at lower setting.

Here is a admittedly blurry shot of the temp/humidity controllers running.
The larger display is just a home temperature and humidity monitor with the remote sensor I normally keep on my patio placed in the fridge to verify the temp/RH readings on the controllers. I had to adjust the humidity controller which was off out of the box. working good now. haven't figured how to switch the temp controller to read Fahrenheit yet.

A couple of things about this setup. The fan sandwiched between the fridge and the lower cabinet is unnecessary. It also doesn't work, the weight of the fridge is distorting the fan. It does act as an effective conduit however. What I have since done, is to stuff and tape a vinyl hose into the directional cap that rest atop the humidifier from which the water vapor exits. I've snaked the tube into the fridge. It would be easier to drill an appropriate sized hole into the fridge through which to snake such a hose, or even through the top of the fridge perhaps, eliminating the need for the cabinet.
I've propped up fans in the base of the fridge, two 120mm PC case fans running on 9 volt battery. I need to wire a dedicated fan controller for them and find a more permanent mounting position. I and thinking to use the upper rack and mount one on left and the other on right blowing in opposite directions to create a circular flow pattern? Not sure what the optimal placement is. I had planned to install lighting to generate heat using 300watt Halogen bulbs with a dimmer to control the heat. This would permit heated fermentation when necessary or operation in cold environment. The temperature controller (an STC-1000 commonly available on Amazon) can do heating as well as cooling.
Also, since I didn't realize the fan wasn't going to work, I had to get new ones. This took a couple of days. I am planning to wipe the casings with vinegar today perhaps as there was some mold growing, very minimal and white colored - not enough to distinguish of is the good powdery type yet. no other colors such a dangerous black mold. Until I put the fans in, there was significant condensate within the fridge. I'm planning to lower the RH setting to 80%, I think 85% is probably too high. I've read that you can inoculate the chamber with penicillin mold. I think I have a hunk of blue cheese I can use for this, and break a piece off to set inside!
Ultimately, I will want to setup a microprocessor controller to operate the fans, humidification and temperature setting with data logging capability. I think there are standalone temp and humidity logging devices that are cheap and small available. I was planning to use an Arduino or and Arduino/RaspberryPi but I'm not much of a programmer as it turns out. This may be a long term project for me therefore.


02-14-2016, 06:17 PM
Very cool Dick! The combo of the pics and the explanation together in a single post makes it all come together very nicely!

Question: How do you like the sausage mixer?

I have heard very mixed reviews, some like them and some don't. One complaint I've heard is for smaller batches it's actually more work/time to clean the mixer than just mixing the sausage by hand in a tub.


02-14-2016, 07:38 PM
Yah. The mixer is great for making 10# sausage batches. I believe the model I have can do up to 20, though I suspect the sweet spot is probably someplace around 15#. I think to do less than say 8# would be problematic. In that case, I'd use my stand mixer paddle to mix. For a 5# batch, I think it is not worth the effort, but those same folks complaining about mixing a 5# batch would be in a different predicament doing a 10-15# batch. Interestingly, I had no instructions with mine, though I have since emailed and received them. I think that these type mixers are meant to be turned in ONE direction (CCW), and don't mix well in the other. I asked my son to mix and he did, but looked like it wasn't coming together. Then I tried it and had no better luck. Then I tried the opposite direction and it was like magic, the sausage came together like David Copperfield had vanished. It was physically more strenuous to turn the crank in the CCW direction. I'll tell you what though, I'd have had smearing to try the same in my stand mixer with this much meat.

Frankly, some things are fun to do as a hobby, and some things are practical to do for eating right. Making pepperoni is really more of the former. I'm willing to take some time wasting inefficiency to do it. I think I'd have done only 5# if I didn't have the mixer. Most recipes I think call for 10# and I think that the mixer I have does well with 10# batches.

Well, there you have it.

Today I placed some blue cheese in my chamber and cleaned off the mold on the casings wiping them down with vinegar and paper towel. I reset my RH to 79% and hasn't dipped below 80% since resetting the fans, now on ac/dc adapter to power them. They ran out of juice overnight. The issue with this is that the condensate accumulates at the hose outlet near the bottom and the RH sensor is at the top so it becomes inaccurate without air circulation. The bad smell is going away too. I hope the blue cheese will dominate my chamber and become the dominant culture of mold. I'm sure there is a more formal way to do it, but this is what I did.

This ^^ picture is with the blue cheese and fans running and that I've cleaned off the casings... There are pieces of blue cheese here and there. The bottom of the fridge is covered with a piece of press-n-seal.

This ^^ picture shows the controllers better. The manuals for operating them aren't the best but it gets the job done. You can see my mug shot in reflection on this one too!


02-15-2016, 11:06 AM
Thanks for the update!

I've not heard of that blue cheese trick before, but it makes sense. I might try it in the fridge I use for all my charcuterie stuff.

I'll tell you what though, I'd have had smearing to try the same in my stand mixer with this much meat.

Yeah, every sausage maker I know who's tried mixing with a stand mixer ends up not recommending it because of fat smearing.

I mix ten pound batches quite often by hand, in a tub, without any real trouble. To keep my hands warm and the meat cold, I don a pair of cotton gloves with nitrile gloves overtop (the knit cotton hot gloves that big poppa sells - love 'em!).

I keep thinking I'd like a sausage mixer for bigger 15 - 20 lb batches. Then I can see the benefits outweighing the extra cleanup time for the mixer (tubs are just so easy to clean), but I don't do batches that size often enough to justify the cost. Maybe one of these days...:rolleyes:

02-15-2016, 11:24 AM
Thanks for the tip on hand mixing! Sometimes it' a pain to haul out all the gear for making sausage. Love those fibrous casing though. Hopefully this winter is chilly here in Florida and I'll get more opportunity to use my gear. I might even risk an occasional hot weather sausage - the #22 throat makes fast work of even ten pounds, if I precut into big chunks up to 2-1/2 to 3" depending on the plate size, you're done grinding in under 5 minutes for ten pounds of meat. For the coarse plates, it grinds as fast as you can feed it into the Throat.

I keep updating the thread as the drying progresses.


02-16-2016, 07:18 PM
I'm growing suspicious of my "water bath" fermentation method. I read about it in a book as a viable method, but I suspect that it was a gateway for contamination. I have a new layer of whitish mold growing. I read that "powdery" is good, and "fluffy" is bad. Frankly, I can't really tell if its fluffy powdery slimy or anything other than white mold. What is worse however is the smell. It doesn't smell very appealing to me. I am going to be out of town for a few days, and will have a good sense when I return if this batch is destined for the circular file or not. All in all, not so upset about it even if I do dump. I keep waiting for the aroma to improve and start to smell like something I'd eat rather than burn. I did learn some things and I now have the chamber all prepped. I think I might read up about inoculating the chamber with good mold before I begin a second batch, but frankly, now that I've finally committed and its operational, I'm thinking that I won't wait so long to try more. I think that you can burn sulfur candles and spray down with bleach to eradicate the bugs in case I need to go that route.


02-17-2016, 09:20 PM
Yep. Dumped. Smelled terrible. Found a fruitfly in my chamber too which I'm not sure how that guy got in.

Before next effort, which will be next week, pending delivery of some smaller diameter casings, which I figure will be easier to work with, allow gifts, and be less prone to hardening. Will do 70/30 pork beef on next round. Will NOT ferment in water bath! Will SEAL the dry cure chamber and add air fan exhaust vents to permit drying with fans attached - since these are exhaust, they will not let fruit flies past fan blades spinning though I am considering some screen material to seal. Also going to bleach it all down, and inoculate with Bactoferm 600 (a good penicillin mold) and also likely to spray the casings too to stave off the fluffy mold, which is what I discovered mine was - yellowish and fluffy and smelled terrible. I don't think my blue cheese experiment worked by the way. I think I am also going to find a plug for the huge fan hole since I discovered a <1inch hole works fine with the vinyl tubing. I'm thinking about taking a piece of hard plastic drilled in multiple spots to permit more even delivery of the water vapor throughout the chamber. last of all, I might also add the lamp heat source to add heat to the the chamber in the fermentation stage. The temp controller can do both heat and cooling control and I already have a lamp base, actually two. For the fermentation I might go with some incandescent bulb(s) rather than hassle with the Halogen I plan to ultimately use - worried about the high humidity and the exposed terminals on that unit.

I am thinking also about doing a simultaneous Landjager batch, but I think that needs to be pressed a day before fermentation. I think the pressing action into flattened links will help it to dry faster too.

Sort of sad to see wasted meat, but better safe than sorry. I think also that I had no initial airflow and that gave the bad mold a jumpstart. Headed to Vegas tomorrow so I didn't want to return to a biological contamination site when I got home.


02-18-2016, 04:30 PM
Dick, I hate to see the meat wasted too, but I agree; better safe than sorry. Also even though this didn't work your first time out, I appreciate that you posted anyway, because we get them benefit of learning from it!

02-22-2016, 03:30 PM
Thanks for the encouragement Cliff! I'm planning to try again on Sunday. This time I think I am going to follow the explicit instructions on the T-SPX culture packaging instead of from the book, and do an air fermentation, not a water bath.

Better safe than sorry for sure....

Just awaiting the arrival of the bactoferm to begin.