Converting a refrigerator for curing meat requires so little modification that the unit can be used as originally intended when it is not being used in the curing process. The most important aspects of curing meat involve controlling temperature, humidity and air flow. The temperature needs to be kept between 50 and 60 degrees; the humidity needs to be between 70 and 75 percent. Air flow keeps moisture from settling on the meat. Devices to help control these aspects are available for purchase and easily added to a refrigerator.
Remove all shelving and shelving hardware from the refrigerator. Thoroughly clean the unit. Replace one shelf to be used for hanging the meats.
Unplug the refrigerator. Plug the temperature controller into the outlet. Plug the refrigerator into the temperature controller. Hang the thermometer off the top shelf. Set the temperature controller to 57 degrees. The thermometer will monitor the internal temperature of the refrigerator. The controller will turn the refrigerator on and off to maintain the preset temperature on the controller.
Place the humidity controller in the back of the refrigerator. Run the cord out of the refrigerator and plug it into a wall outlet. Plug a power strip into the humidity controller. Plug a humidifier filled with distilled water into the humidity controller. Set the humidity controller to 75 percent. The humidity controller will control the humidity much as the temperature controller controls the temperature. Monitor the humidifier and refill it with distilled water as needed.
Plug a small fan into the power strip. The fan will keep the air circulating inside the refrigerator.
Close the door with the power cord to the humidity controller and thermometer cord running out. The slight crack in the seal will allow a little more air flow.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture warns that dry-curing meat in this manner may not kill the bacterium E. coli. People with weak immune systems should not eat cured meats.