Sunday, 12 August 2012

Spicy lonzino results

Last week I cut open the spicy lonzino but I've only just got round to updating the blog. It had lost just over 30% of its weight when I took it out of the chamber. Feast your eyes on its meaty glory:

Not the greatest photo. Sorry.
It looks pretty good (ignoring the dubious photography), wouldn't you agree? It is pretty spicy, I got a chilli flake on the third bite that I wasn't expecting, but not ridiculously so. It tastes much better than previous lonzino attempts. I think that the longer hanging period (because it was much larger than ones I've done before) really helps to develop the flavour.

So, success then? Well, all is not as it seems. I mentioned in a previous post that my cured meats (particularly the salami) have been drying faster than the underpants on Satan's washing line. The same thing has happened to this lonzino: quite a bit of case hardening. In fact, the central one-third was still a bit too soft and won't be eaten. There was also a little bit of green mould growth on one end (where the casing had come away from the meat); hopefully this will be less of a problem in future now that I have a mould culture to apply to the outside before things go into the chamber.

The case hardening is almost certainly due to the fan at the back of the wine fridge. The fridge is Peltier cooled, so it needs a fan to move the air inside over the heat exchanger. If you disconnect the fan (which I have tried) the heat exchanger doesn't work properly and the chamber heats up. I can think of two possible ways forward:
  1. Hook up the existing fan/a new fan so that it can be controlled independently;
  2. Add an air diffuser to reduce the air flow 
I've decided to go with option 2 mainly because it's cheaper and simpler. I bought some muslin, wet it, and hung it over the rack in the back of the chamber like a curtain. The ends sit in a seed tray that is filled with water. I spent a few days moving the muslin diffuser back and forth to block the air flow from the fan and seeing how it affected the conditions inside; I seem to have it down now. The addition of the seed tray means that the diffuser also acts like a wick, drawing moisture that is then evaporated by the fan. So far, this has meant the relative humidity has stayed pretty stable. Time will tell I guess.

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