Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coldrooms and Curing Cellars

My cellar is now empty.
The chorizo didn't -quite- dry to the centre. It was just that little bit moist... but it was 95% perfect! not bad for a first try. Could've been better had I been able to fix my humidity issue.

Damn humidity.

The sausages I'm keeping whole, but freezing. Then I can take them out to use on pizza, in pasta, etc once thawed. They're quite tasty :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

duck breast prosciutto

ok, first of all, i suck. i suck at getting photos up.
it's just so much easier to type than to piss around getting the photos embedded AND where i want them.

secondly, i still suck.
the humidity in my curing cellar is the bane of my existence.
i even put a humidifier in there.

The duck breast prosciutto (one in white pepper, one in gingerbread spices) is now out.
i sliced it up.... and... i didn't know what to think of it.
the non-fat side was too dry (humidity=too low) and it was still fairly moist in the centre. Was that because the fat kept it moist? was it not in the salt long enough? (i wasn't the one to take it out) did it not dry through to the centre because the humidity was so low that the outside dried too much before the centre had a chance too?
maybe i just couldn't slice it thin enough to get what i think is the correct texture of prosciutto?

So many questions. No answers.

What do I do now? They were supposed to be for my Yule Dinner on Saturday, but I decided they weren't ready.

Well, I sliced up both of them. Put the slices in separate baggies. Labelled baggies. Put baggies in freezer. And I'll think on it for a bit.
We're not big prosciutto eaters in my house to begin with (nor are any of the homes that we'll be visiting over Christmas weekend) so I'll save my slices to throw into a pasta dish of some sort. They'll get heated through (that'll put my hubby at ease) and wont go to waste.


Now, the Chorizo!!
Oh the wonderful chorizo!

The only reason I think they're working is because I've been spraying them down 3-4x a day so the outside stays moist enough to allow the centre to dry.
I cut one up the other day. Wasn't quite ready, but it was so close I could taste it!
And taste it I did!

Because it really wasn't quite done (less than a week and it will be!) I fried up the slices and had chorizo "chips"
It has a really nice heat too it. It was a cold smoked one that I tried, but because I had nothing it compare it to and i fried it, I couldn't pick up a smoky taste.
Maybe it wasn't in the smoke long enough?

There will be better tasting notes on the Chorizo before New Years.

In other news, I finally got my beef in to make peperone! I'm gonna switch out my wooden shelves for stainless steel though.
I think the wood is absorbing too much of the humidity that's going in. Thus, once I get replacements, they will be removed from the cellar!
And, once the humidity issue is solved, I'm going to try and get a couple aging cheeses made to put up :)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone :)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curing Update!

No, I still haven't gotten my pics up yet... but I'm hoping to be able to get them up later tonight. Because I refuse to be beaten by a computer (even though I'm sure it's gotten the best of me many times already).

The Chorizo hanging in my cellar! (yes, I'll have a pic of them here too)

They're doing wonderful, as far as I can tell. The temp has been stable. Never got over 16C and hasn't gone below 14C. That's perfect as far as I'm concerned.
They're feeling stiffer everyday. And I've been misting them with water 3-4x a day to keep the casing moist enough to allow the centre to cure properly. My link that I molded DOES have mold on it still. However, it's all on the bottom tip of each sausage in the link. *shrug* Can't win them all I guess...

Humidity is still a problem. Everyone else I know who cures uses a large bucket of salty water with a cloth wicking water out onto the floor to up humidity. I have 2 5gallon buckets of salty water with wicks! in my cellar. The highest it's gotten is 35%. It's sitting at around 30% now...

Why? My room isn't large by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, most would call it tiny.
Could it be the shelving? Is the untreated (no chemicals for my cheese and sausages!) wood absorbing too much of the moisture? Is that a problem now, but an asset later (When it finally absorbs so much water that it's helping keep the humidity stable)?


I'm gonna be putting my parents old cool-air humidifier in there later this week. I forgot to grab it when I was out there this weekend. Made about a 1000 chocolate truffles with my sisters. Only ate maybe 6 throughout the day and that was way more than enough for me :P
They're delicious, truly, but one can only be around chocolate for so long.
Good thing they're for presents and not for me!

Also in the cellar right now is Duck Breast Proscuitto (recipe from "Charcuterie"). It cured in kosher salt for 24hrs in the fridge then was rinsed, dried, spiced, wrapped in cheese cloth and hung downstairs. Some people hang in the fridge, but I have a cellar and I better use it! lol
It should be ready by Saturday, that's when I checking it.
I'll get pics posted of it when I slice it. Then everyone can see how it turned out (good, bad, or ugly).
There's two breasts, one done in white pepper and another done in a blend of gingerbread spices (my own blend). Because there's nothing quite like the smell and taste of baking spices, especially around Christmas!

In the new year when I have the sausages and proscuitto out of the cellar I'm taking out the shelves that we built and reducing the width by 6inches. That's right, my cellar is sooooo small that 2' wide shelves are too big!
And then once that is fixed and the humidity is FINALLY up to where it should be... it'll be time for aging CHEESE! :D

Monday, December 5, 2011

Curing Cellar

Well, I have pics of the finished Jagerwurst, fresh Kielbasa and the Spanish Chorizo (for dry curing).... they're on my other computer. The computer that keeps crashing the website when I try to upload them for a blog post.

** I hate computers! ** specifically, really old ones. (really old in the computer world is 5+yrs)

Anyways, instead of arguing with it again (will try again tonight) I figure I'd do a post on my epic failures... yes, already.

My cellar is a degree too warm. A whole frick'n degree. That is easily fixed with getting an outdoor vent installed to let in some cold air and another to let out warm. Of course, when the temp finally gets to -20C for winter that one degree shouldn't be a problem. Should do it anyways.

The bottom of my wall isn't sealed properly. I had a water mister bottle thing crash and bust open today and all the water ran under the wall to the laundry room. That means I have cold air leaking out of there.

I can't get my humidity up. (hehe, can't get it up. oh dear...) There's a bucket of salty water dripping onto the floor (idea stolen from Kevin Kossowan) and I've been misting the untreated wood shelves and the sausages with plain old water.
I was hoping to have cheese in there by now. That would have put a couple more tubs of water in there to get the humidity up as well.

I'll try a get a couple of problems fixed then I guess I'll go from there.

Such is the way things go. Can't get everything right the first time. What would be the fun of that?