TEMPERATURE AND HUMIDITY CONTROL
The desired temperature range is best achieved with a temperature controller. It is a unit that measures the temperature using a sensor inside the chamber and which can turn on and off the power to the freezer. I am using the Inkbird ITC-308 which I’m very happy with but there are other options available.
The Inkbird is connected to a power outlet and the freezer is connected to the Inkbird. When the temperature in the chamber hits an upper threshold the power to the freezer comes on. The power stays until the temperature has dropped past a lower threshold. To avoid having the compressor running too many cycles the Inkbird can be adjusted with a compressor delay. I keep the compressor delay to 10 minutes. The controller setup is very easy and after checking the manual for a few seconds you will feel comfortable using it.
The desired humidity range is also best achieved with a humidity controller. The humidity sensor will be inside the curing chamber. A good humidity controller will have both a dehumidifier and a humidifier electric outlets. When the humidity is too high the dehumidifier will turn on and vice versa. I am using the Inkbird IHC-200 and it is so far more reliable and long-lived than another model that I tried.
Curing: For curing meats and salamis I keep the temperature at 46.5F (8C). Many keep the temperature at 50F (10C). My choice of slightly colder temperature makes the drying a little bit slower but I hope it develops flavors better.
Dry-Aging: I both dry and wet age meat. Meat that you can find in my curing / dry-aging chamber in the fall is from deer, elk, rabbit, ducks, and squirrel. My recommendation is to keep the temperature between 37.4F - 41F (3-5C). This range will give good progress on the aging progress with very slow bacterial growth. For aging meat it is temperature AND time that matters. Just “time” in cool temperatures gives wildly varying results. Please check out a previous article regarding how to measure aging so you can tell when it is done or extend the day grades when needed.
You can go colder or warmer but you should avoid having it reach as low as 32F (0C) or higher than 50F (10C). Remember that it is temperature and time that are the main factors for aging meat.
Avoid having the animal’s core temperature go below 50F during the first 24h when rigor mortis sets in and is released. If it gets too cold you will get muscle cold shortening and end up with drier and tougher meat.