Having largely settled into my new way of life with our cellar, I find I’m forgetting to post about the odd item that might be helpful for those considering going down that road. So some thoughts about the cellar. [the one that holds my wine, charcuterie, and cheese, not my root cellar]
First, the dry cured meats on the left are not from my hand, they’re from Oyama Sausage Co. – a generous gift from my brother having just returned from B.C.. A handy thing about having a cellar? No need to consume them before they get dodgy in the fridge – I can hang them in the cellar, and they can keep for months. I’d never considered this as a perk of being set up for dry curing, but let me tell you…it is. I welcome their flora to the mold-party, and will revel in their awesomeness through the summer and beyond if they’re not eaten before.
Secondly, the conditions. It’s 13.8C and 72% humidity down there. We just had 6+ inches of rain, and it’s 26C outside today so it will likely dip back down a bit on both fronts in the coming week. 15C and 60-70% rh is happiness for dry curing, if my memory serves me correctly. So in general, I’d say my cellar is on the cool side through the year as far as cellars go. That doesn’t hurt my feelings. My red wines will age slowly, my whites and apple wines will stay fresh, and really, truthfully, I’m happy to be storing meats on the cool side rather than the other way around.
Also noteworthy is an un-met expectation on my part. I had expected dry curing would be a seasonal thing. Not true. Conditions are naturally optimal through the summer [surprisingly], but with the intervention of water wicking onto the floor, the conditions were excellent through the winter and spring – albeit colder than optimal. I can dry cure meat all year. A rare expectation I’m happy to not have met.
Lastly. My cellar increasingly stunk for a couple months. I thought it was the cheese. Then the cheese was used up. Thought it was their bins. Nope. One of the batches of put up meat? That’d be gross. Finally, these last few days, I figured it out. It was the bucket of water and cloth that I use to wick water onto the floor in the winter to increase humidity. Despite having added a whole box of table salt to the thing, it still got nasty. Weird. I do know that the drops of water on the floor carry salt, as the splashes leave little salt deposits on my floor. Doesn’t hurt my feelings as it provides a level of antisepticness [that's not really a word, I just made it up]. All I can offer is that the salt wicked out through the cloth through the winter enough that the solution was desalinated enough to get gross. Weird. Solution? Remove bucket. Solved. Will bleach bucket, use new cloth, problem solved. I’m relieved it need not stink. [and if any of you chemists know of a salt that won't wick out of the bucket through a cloth, chime in please]
The cellar has offered such a boon of wealth of various forms in one short year. Yes, you should build one.