My first batch of Salami was thrown out in September-November, suffering from case hardening. It was a very sad thing, and a lesson that you need the right tools and conditions for the job. The little wine fridge, spray bottle, and bowl of salty water to keep the humidity up was not sufficient.

December I started a new Salami…and notably changed processes with an upgrade from a kitchen aid attachment to a serious Weston Butcher Series #12. My full drying chamber/fridge with temp humidity control was already broken in with some whole muscle cures and cheeses, so I was ready for this to go smoothly.

Except, there are always curve balls:

(1)the pH test strips I ordered for measuring the salami fermentation processes were the wrong pH range

(2) my humidifier broke down at the most critical stage of fermentation where you need to maintain 80-90%+ humidity

(3) we had surprising swing in temperatures down to 50-60Fs. Prior and right after fermentation were well into high 70s, ideal temperature for fermentation step

Facing these challenges this Amazombie actually went out to the store to purchase a new humidifier and space heater. I frantically sprayed my salami with water and mold 600, made a closet chamber with contractor bags, set up space heater/humidifier, killed a humidity sensor, and after a few days of constant babysitting and bad salami dreams, I transferred to the 55F/80% humidity chamber for drying. The new pH strips hadn’t come in the mail so took a judgement call that fermentation was probably done. Then to wait 4 weeks and have more salami bad dreams…

The Salami turned out great and I look forward to doing another or a Soppressata next. That was the most harrowing adventure I’ve experienced, perhaps an unusually moldy cheese might be my next one. In the last 6mo though I’ve enjoyed about a dozen or two projects that have been relatively stress free, fun, and delicious.

I should post more because several projects have started and finished including more spalla, more bresaola, more lonza, 15+mo prosciutto, duck prosciutto,  5+ cheeses, pickling, regular bacon and canadian bacon, polish and levain breads. Some pictures to add some color to the recent projects. My locust tree will have ripe fruit for a jam in a few weeks and I just ordered 60 grape vines for planting a backyard vinyard in March.

Cured bacon on Traegar for smoking. I don’t have the smoker attachment so this is placed on a pan of ice to keep temp lower

Bacon wrapped jalepeno poppers and pineapple was a HUGE hit for superbowl party


Superbowl spread; Pancetta, spalla, lonza, salami, bressaola, duck proscuitto, dried apples, picked vegetables

Curing chamber with various Salumi and Cheeses


The workbench for cutting and vac packing


Meat grinding, sausage stuffing, various other utility bench

Levain bread without pitched yeast, delicious flavors, airy pockets

Chive farmhouse cheddar pressing

I will try to post more and with specific recipes/walkthroughs. I am only 6mo in and still learning, but hope to pass on some lessons and tips to the internet wanderer.

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I have always enjoyed cured meats, especially when visiting Europe I make sure to have at least one meal of various meats and cheeses from a local market. Here’s a spread I put together in Paris in Feb 2017.

Spread from market in Paris, Feb 2017

During our trip to Italy June-July this year, we took a cooking class in Rome organized by Walks of Italy, which I highly recommend. As a group of couples we made ravioli and carbonara at a rooftop terrace apartment, featuring real Roman Guanciale which is Italian cured pork jowl (whole cheek). People make carbonara in the states, often substituting bacon or pancetta and parmesan. The guanciale has the most amazon fat and flavor, and the instructors explained that authentic carbonara requires no seasoning or fat added as the guanciale and pecorino cheese carry the dish perfectly. Eggs, flour, water, guanciale, and pecorino and nothing else. They also shamed the Americans for dishes like Chicken Aldredo and advised to avoid any “Italian” restaurant that served it.

Candle lit rooftop dinner with our cooking class in Rome, I wish I took food pictures

Coincidentally prior to Italy, I had just started making simple cheeses like Mozzarella  from scratch, which was a gateway into starting a cured pork loin or Lonzino. After trying Guanciale in Italy and enjoying plenty of Prosciutto and melon there, I decided to take a deeper dive into the fascinating world of Salumi and Charcuterie. My first Lonzino was not a success by the way, far too salty because I was so concerned with food poisoning/botulism without a proper drying chamber. It looks pretty, but way too salty.

First Lonzino (pork loin) which was cured for almost 2 months in fridge with salt mixture. Looks pretty, tastes too salty

I got a simple wine fridge, temp/humidity sensor, and started apparently what I learned later, the most ambitious type of Salumi – a Salami project. The outcome is yet to be known, but I’m concerned that I may have case hardening due to inability to keep humidity high enough. I later got a compact humidifier, which may have saved them. Time will tell, they’ve lost 32% of weight, but not quite finished yet. Last night I cut into the most dry one and tried with the dogs; no one is sick! It was still a bit too “wet” for my liking so they return to the wine fridge.

Starter curing chamber – wine fridge and bowl of water for humidity

So here’s the plunge. I’ve been reading about curing on internet and two excellent books:

Charcuterie – Excellent resource and my first read. Charcuterie is more French and included a lot of smoking techniques which I’m not interested in (yet)

Salumi – I should have started with this book. This is all about Italian cured meats/cold cuts, typically around pork. This is what I enjoy most.

Simon supported turning our garage room into a cellar (he’s the best!!). This garage room was a gym, then guest room, then storage, then guest room, then storage again. The carpet wasn’t sanitary for curing and wine making so got beautiful Italian Travertine looking porcelain tile laid down. I found a craigslist commercial windowed beverage fridge and hooked up humidity and temperature control. I have been doing a poor job of documenting it with pictures, but will likely include some blog posts of specific recipes I find successful.

Tile prior to grouting

26cu/ft commercial beverage fridge modified with humidity and temperature sensors/control. Currently set to 80% humidity and 55F. Interior light removed now as light can speed up the oxidation process in which fat becomes rancid

Work station and weigh ins


For anyone looking to do this at home, it doesn’t have to be too expensive or even require a separate cellar room. All you need is an old fridge off craigslist, a humidifier, humidity controllertemperature controller, and optional but recommended inexpensive additional temp/humidity sensor. You’ll want to read about nitrates and have a kitchen scale, and probably find a butcher. For sausages there is a kitchen aid attachment for grinding and stuffing. I think the wine fridge works okay without any additional humidity/temp controllers, but I did spend a lot of time monitoring humidity, spraying sausages with water early on, refilling water or changing the USB power to the mini humidifier. I think you can get away with a small wine fridge; however, it quickly ran out of room for me.

Optional fun toys include deli slicer and vacuum sealer (for freezing). Initial curing works best in gallon ziploc bags and vacuum sealing is more complicated/expensive than simple ziplocs. For a starter project, a Lonzino is one of the most simple and you can find pork loin easily in the grocery store: https://honest-food.net/gird-your-loins-lonzino/

Also, in the theme of having a cellar, why not do wine as well. I already have all the equipment from beer brewing, so I thought to try wine making with these inexpensive kits for Chardonnay and Cab Sauv. With the Italian theme, I’m interested in making Lemonchella next.

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Typing out “Margarita Pizza” I knew something was wrong. Given I grew up and still reside in Southern Californian with all that Mexican influence, I needed to spell check myself… “Margarita?” Of course not, it is MARGHARETA Pizza – That wonderful mix of crust, tomato, basil, mozzarella. The colors red, green, white for Italian reunification, but actually that is a falsehood as well! Margherita Pizza originated in Naples between 1796 and 1810, not by name, but by recipe.


Anyhoo, I recently made my first homemade cheese from scratch (easy Mozzarella) and had the bright idea to use my supply of fresh cheese to make a rustic Margharita Pizza.


3-4C all purpose flour (bread flower was preferred in recipes) mixed with 2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon sugar

1.5C water at 110F, with 2 tablespoons instant yeast

Mix Kitchenaid, add more flour as needed

Set 1hr, double volume, experimented rising in a bowl with some olive oil instead of leaving to rise in my kitchenaid bowl

Sprinkle cornmeal on baking stone at 400F

Toss and place dough on stone, place toppings, bake until done

My recipes will be hard to follow, I don’t measure or document very well.


My first Fresh Mozzarella from Scratch, whole milk, calcium carbonate, renin, salt


Dough before rising ~4C flour with salt and sugar, 1.5C water @110F with instant yeast


Prepping while dough doubles in size


Cornmeal under dough on a baking stone


400F for unmeasured time, maybe 20-30min?



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