All chefs once dreamt about a kitchen device that would do everything by itself. Imagine, you place a pig inside, push button and from the other side of the device comes out a ready-made delicious sausage. That would perfectly serve in charcuterie (production of sausage items). A plain preparation of minced meat and tamping it into casing is not a half but fourth part of the whole process.
Before the sausage turns into a magnificent salami or chorizo you still need to wait from one to four months; and in case you deal with whole-muscle pieces, like coppa or even jamon — waiting time may last till one year. It’s not a problem, however, any charcuterie and meat production demand certain climate conditions, like exact temperature and humidity which should be changed at and for a definite period of time. And if you break these modes it may cause a growth of dangerous malignant bacteria, and consequently an intoxication.
Lots of beginners in charcuterie, me too long time ago, they try to utilize «natural» rooms for product’s aging, like fridge and basement. They move products from one place to another, with better climate conditions, according to preparation technologies of each certain product, and do it several times a day. It is very inconvenient, with lots of labor-costs and you’re all the time «stuck» to your house, with inflexible timetable.
Most advanced charcuterie men put together a climate chamber (further CC) out of old fridge, setting it at a certain «middle mode». In this case, there’s no way to place different kinds of products inside and of course the settings are not so flexible, you’ll still need to change them manually. In manufacturing the CC is operated by computers and the sausage is produced in tons, however, my task is to tell about the device designed for domestic production, a small restaurant or a butchery.
Not long ago I purchased CC «Klima» manufactured in Italy by «Zernike».
According to my investigations, nowadays this chamber is the best and seemingly the unique device existing on the market of domestic or small production of sausage and other charcuterie which demand a special climate treatment.
My CC was delivered from the manufacturer within 3 days. I had to unpack it, connect to water pipe (to provide a stable humidity generator functioning) and to lead out a small tube to drain condensate. And finally to push the button «Start».
«Klima» is completely made of food stainless steel and is easily washable. I wouldn’t place it in the kitchen of a standard block apartment, it’s a bit giant and when the ventilator is on it produces a certain noise. Still this is a manufacturing device though designed for small volumes of products. By writing the words «small volumes» I suddenly realized dozens of kilos of sausage is not something extremely huge for me anymore…
My model of CC is provided with a crystal door, which is very convenient and nice-looking, especially when the light is on inside the chamber. It is possible to control the process without instant breaking of climate settings by opening the door all the time.
And the most important thing. To protect the chamber from always hungry family members you can close the door by key!
Here are the technical features and size of my model:
Crystal door 230V/50/1 — KW 2,30
800 LT/max 160 Kg
Operational temperature capacities from -2 to +40C
The main CC task is coded in its name — to create necessary climate inside, to protect products from the effect of malignant bacteria, and also to protect the surrounding area from «good» bacteria and inside chamber aromas".
The operation and programming is done on touch screen pad built-in CC.
There are 17 pre-installed programs, but they are more likely to serve as examples since they don’t take into account neither weight nor specific recipe of a product. These are basic programs and at the beginning I used to refer to them. Nothing terrible happened. The sausage was slightly undried, so I had to add some more time.
It is very easy to programme the chamber, there are visual simple signs:
You choose temperature, humidity, time — then save it and use this logic all the time (by the way, in CC there’s a function — to maintain the parameters eternally until the chef switches them off manually. Even when there’s a shortcut of electricity that doesn’t influence the settings. As soon as the light is on again, the CC runs back to the installed mode).
This super-necessary function allows me to travel as long as I want without worrying about sausage in chamber.
There are protective filters installed to control the in and out air flows on purpose to prevent bacteria from penetrating from the outside and from the inside as well. The power of ventilation is also adjustable.
There are functions of import/export of programme. I read about an «advanced» option, according to which the CC is connected to Wi-Fi and is operated from the mobile.
The chamber settings allow to create unlimited number of modes and recipes, up to the chef’s imagination. Certain super-secret «granny's» recipes you can easily code and hide so that the enemies don’t steal them.
Though I’ve made already more than ten kinds of sausage and other charcuterie products, I still got a feeling It’s not even 10% of what this chamber allows to perform. There’s much ahead!
Abilities of this chamber.
First of all I tried the function of «aging».
A 20-kilo piece of beef was placed into the chamber to pass the «aging» process during 20 days.
Unlike standard fridge, aging in CC doesn’t demand any extra covering of meat, as the excess humidity is lead out automatically permitting the chamber to maintain its cleanliness and absence of unpleasant ambers. There were absolutely no signs of point-source focus of moldiness and putrefaction. Due to the accurately calculated program, the crust on the meat appeared first hours of aging which prevented malignant bacteria from developing and growing. Rather, inside the piece there were «right» processes in progress.
According to my calculations, when utilizing the CC in a nice restaurant, where the price for «aging» steak starts at 50 Euro and for a standard breakfast it is 7 Euro, by using only this function of the chamber you’re able to refund the cost of the device within a half year usage.
- Fruits and vegetables
- Mushrooms etc.
Very useful function. Within only 6−12 hours you can dry a huge number of different products, fearless of souring or other undesirable processes. It is also perfect for producing dried meat (jerky) and fruits.
Fermentation and cheese aging
- I haven’t tested this function yet but plan to do it soon.
- Salami, sausages
- Whole-muscle meat products, coppas, jamon etc.
- Possibility to work with starter and other cultures.
Since I focus on meat products, my CC «Klima» is always stuffed with various sausages and meat items. Good that the process is non-stop so that it’s possible to take out ready products and add fresh ones.
Here are some of the latest cooked products
The chamber has been working non-stop for the last 10 months approximately.
Now there are the following products in the chamber (at the same time): pork’s leg (jamon), smoked cured and raw-cured sausage. Hot-smoked and cold smoked meat, bacon and some coppas.
Cold fermentation of starchy foods (croissants etc.)
Depending on the options the CC is delivered with:
- a filter for water (necessary for stable functioning of humidifier);
- built-in device for measuring PH;
- various pallets and mesh.
Surely, the volume of my chamber is not enough for line production, but it’s not the problem, my task is different.
According to my calculations, I could sell from 100 to 250 kilos of «fast-made» products a month:
- Jerky 200 kg. Viability 70%
- Smoked cured and raw-cured sausages 150−200 kg. Viability 300−400%.
- Cured fish 70−100 kg. Viability 300−400%.
- Dried mushrooms, berries and fruits — hard to calculate since it’s not my profile at all.
Of course, the viability is calculated without including labor-costs but who cares really? Or maybe I’ll start selling soon… who knows, who knows…
The price of CC is impressive, in deed, however, I’d focus on the fact that the payback is within 6−8 months.
No doubt, the concrete basement with spiders and cute tiny mice can replace the CC but it highly depends on the weather outside and on how much unknown to science «basement» bacteria and its eared rodent friends are hungry.