Making charcuterie at home offers chefs a way to express their craft by mastering a lengthy, creative process; however, it is imperative to monitor the temperature and humidity for safe, edible meat.
When you’re air drying (dry curing) meat at home, keep the environment within a certain temperature and humidity range in order to cure the meat properly without encouraging bacteria or mold growth. The ideal temperature for dry curing is between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit, while the humidity needs to range between 65 and 80%. If the humidity rises above 80%, it fosters bacteria growth. Use a temperature and humidity sensor to measure the space you will be using to cure your meats. Without modification, a normal refrigerator’s humidity levels are typically between 20 and 40%. The proper modifications will make the refrigerator run dry so that you can add moisture back into the meal at your preferred level.
While most DIY curing chambers require a humidifier and dehumidifier, there are ways to adjust the humidity outside of the chamber that may help you produce quality meats. Adjusting the thermostat in your home, garage, building, etc. can help maintain the temperature and humidity inside your chamber, too.
Check on your product daily. Even meat that is being aged over a course of weeks or months must be checked regularly to ensure that it is developing safely and that nothing has gone awry. Charcuterie is definitely not an instant gratification food—but your love, care and attention will be evident in every delicious bite.
If you’re just starting out, don’t lose heart. Chances are you will mess up a time or two. Just remember that if something looks slimy, rotten or unappetizing or has an unpleasant odor, do not eat it.