No pics of meat today. Only pics of data, which will cause some to cringe, I’m sure. The below graph represents one month of drying. These sausages should have only taken about 2 weeks to cure, so the process took longer than it probably should have. You can see my failed attempts to get the humidity really high (to grow good mold) in the beginning. This certainly contributed to the long curing time. I also gave up and dried everything out after 5/6, a day that coincided with my departure on a business trip:
As I mentioned yesterday, it’s interesting that the landjager started higher in water activity than the soppressata, yet ended up drier on May 12. I also stopped taking landjager readings on the 12th – it was very “done”. The shape of the drying curves indicate the way water is removed from curing meat. In the beginning, the water activity doesn’t drop much for every 1% of moisture that leaves the product (say, during the 1st week of curing). Soon, though, the rate water activity is dropping increases, even though the rate the moisture is leaving goes down. As long as the water activity of the sausage is higher than the surrounding humidity, it will continue to lose moisture and drop in water activity. You can see even at the end of the soppressata’s drying run, it’s water activity is still dropping in a straight line. We haven’t measured weight change on the sausages in the past, just water activity.
All indications from other product’s we’ve measured show the high 0.7′s to be the right water activity target for “done” sausages, so that’s the point where we stopped. We’re already seeing some interesting readings on how much water the chorizo, peperone, and tuscan salami are losing in their first days of drying, and how that relates to their diameter.
Another issue the data highlight is the need for a better sampling technique. It’s impossible that, with a lower external humidity, the water activity increased from one day to another. We need a better way to take samples than just lopping off a couple of pieces from the end of a sausage. More on that later.