Drying Pancetta

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JerBear
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Drying Pancetta

Post by JerBear » Sun Jul 01, 2012 03:22

In addition to a mess o' bacon and tasso being readied for the smoker tomorrow I've also been curing a pancetta. It's ready to come out of the cure and I'm going to pepper crust it then age it wrapped in muslin un-rolled.

Here's my question regarding the pancetta, I'm in San Diego and we're on the warm side these days and our humidity is on the lower side. I want to cure outside of refrigeration for optimal drying but I'm not sure if the long term heat is such a hot idea (pun intended). Here's what I'm proposing as an alternative. Store it in the fridge during the day and age at cooler room temp (my garage actually) during the night. Thoughts? I could also try to find a place in the house to hang it but we're not currently using air conditioning and it's in the 70's in the house also.

Thoughts?
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Post by story28 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 04:50

Well, unfortunately you have two variables that will be making the drying process work against you. The excessive temperature and low humidity are likely to cause the pancetta to dry too quickly. You might harden the surface or rush the process along too quickly to get any true flavor development.

The big issue could come with the fragile state of the meat. At that state you can spoil the meat at those high temperatures.

You have the right idea by not rolling it, though.
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Post by JerBear » Sun Jul 01, 2012 05:00

I do have a fridge available to me and I can just adjust the cooler so that it only kicks on at 50ish or 60ish. Do you think putting a tray of water in there would be sufficient. I don't have a humidifier.
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Post by story28 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 05:19

I would keep it between 55 F or 59 F, a little air flow, and do what you can with the humidity. A hygrometer would put you back about twenty dollars, but at least you can monitor whether you are in that 72%-75% range.
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Post by JerBear » Sun Jul 01, 2012 05:30

A hygrometer and cold humidifier are on my short list of things to purchase. I really want to try my hand at aging and fermenting sausages.

What are you thoughts on room temp @ night and fridge during the day?
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Post by story28 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 14:23

I would measure your relative humidity at night first. If it is below 65% I wouldn't go for it unless your evening temperature drops down to 53 F or below. The lower temps can slow the excessive drying rate to buffer the lower relative humidity rates, but not much.
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Post by uwanna61 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 16:04

Jerbear
If I may suggest, I would recommend maintaining a consistent drying temp/humidity. As story28 suggested with the temperatures less than 60 degrees, this is a good target to maintain during the drying stage.
As for alternating back and forth between drying areas between night/day, my first thought would be a fluctuation in environmental conditions that would affect the finished product. I`m also wrestling with this same idea myself, I have been monitoring the room temps down in our basement, I believe I`m close to the conditions that I need for hanging the salami once the "drying process" is complete, but the room temp is a little on the high side for my liking, at 62 degrees.
It sounds like you have an interest in making fermented salami? I would recommend starting out with a smaller batch of fermented salami and work up from there, post your progress here on the site, there are several folks here that can help if you have questions.
Check out this recipe: http://www.wedlinydomowe.com/sausage-re ... oppressata
Although the recipe does not call for a culture (bactoferm) I did decide to use a fast fermenting F-RM52 culture, the salami turned out amazing. Next time I will not use the culture, I`m curious to see how things will turn out it.

Good luck
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Post by IdaKraut » Sun Jul 01, 2012 18:47

JerBear, I've not made pancetta, but may offer some advice. Would your's fit inside an insulated Coleman type cooler? What temperature do you want to have your pancetta curing at? I was thinking you might get away with the cooler to which you add an ice pack or two. To maintain humidity you could add a small cup filled with a silica gel based kitty litter that does not have those blue deodorant pellets (unless you want pancetta that tastes and smells like a urinal cake).

Image

Shows my cooler set up with 60 watt light bulb controlled by a temperature controller. I use this mostly in the winter months and with small quantities of sausage. Also works well to raise pizza or bread dough.

Image

Showing a small cup filled with clear kitty litter. I added some water to the litter pearls and that's why the cigar humidity gage is showing a high reading. If left dry, it will keep the humidity at around 63 - 65%. The silica gel will pull moisture out of your sausage and try to equalize the humidity around the above parameters. If it gets higher, you would simply replace with fresh, dry kitty litter and let the moist litter dry out (don't throw it away, it will last indefinitely).

Image

Picture of what I use. I couldn't find any locally that didn't have that nasty blue deodorant, so ordered this from amazon.com

Anyway, just throwing out some ideas.
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Post by JerBear » Tue Jul 03, 2012 03:33

Great ideas and worth the experiment. How do you place your product in the cooler? Do you elevate it on a rack or...?
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Post by JerBear » Tue Jul 03, 2012 04:12

Here's a picture of the pancetta after rinsing and re-peppering. I currently have it wrapped in muslin in the fridge. After about a week I'll vacuum seal chunks and freeze.

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Post by Cabonaia » Tue Jul 03, 2012 05:48

Hey that's nice looking!
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Post by Baconologist » Tue Jul 03, 2012 06:27

I dry my pancetta slowly in a very cool fridge for 3-5 weeks to encourage maximum flavor development.
Godspeed!

Bob
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Post by JerBear » Tue Jul 03, 2012 14:36

Thanks Cabonaia! Baconologist, the salt level is just acceptable and I think 3-5 weeks of aging might overly concentrate the salt, maybe next time.
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Post by IdaKraut » Tue Jul 03, 2012 15:29

JerBear wrote:Great ideas and worth the experiment. How do you place your product in the cooler? Do you elevate it on a rack or...?
Yes, I use a wire cooling rack to raise the product. I've only used this system in the winter months and only for the initial 24 to 72 hour incubation period when using LAB starter cultures. The kitty litter crystals help keep the moisture levels constant, depending on how dry or moist the crystals are.

You might want to keep an eye on craigs list or the local paper classifieds for a small apartment sized fridge and then use a temperature controller such as this one to control the cooling (or heating if you use it in the winter): http://www.etcsupply.com/ranco-etc11100 ... -p-86.html It would make dry curing a lot easier and precise.
Rudy
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Post by crustyo44 » Tue Jul 03, 2012 22:24

Gentlemen,
Thank you all for your input, I definitely will be having a go at making Pancetta now.
This morning I will be checking out the kitty litter.
Best regards to all.
Jan.
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