The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Salami Project: part four. A journey into the heart of the Fens

meat safeThe temperature in the larder is rising with these warmer days. It is a proper old fashioned cold room but the fridge freezer lives in there and the large motor inadvertently heats the room. Great in mid winter as things don’t freeze but in summer it’s not cool enough for maturing my fast growing family of salami.

After the initial excitement of one salami actually tasting good, I have started experimenting in earnest. One of the ways of cutting down our weekly spend was to avoid buying speciality salami.

I have yearned for it so much that I tended to avoid the salami section of shops. Now I am haunting them, studying the ingredients, the look of them and dreaming of producing my own Cottage Smallholder recipes.

I did consider moving the fridge freezer into the kitchen. Danny was alarmed. It is quite large. And it would mean working beside an edifice that purrs and glugs constantly. The kitchen table is my writing space as the Rat Room is now Danny’s lair.

We are lucky to have a small lean-to barn that is propped against the north wall of the cottage. The temperature in the barn is always cool. Never exceeding 55 degrees, even on the hottest summer day. It is where our fruit wine ferments slowly after the initial airing cupboard frenzy. Fruit liqueurs are stored on its cool shelves and another hundred tossed-in things litter the floor. It’s a place for nimble sober feet.

I spotted two old meat safes on Ebay and won them for much less than it would cost me to make them. And where would I find perforated zinc if I wanted to?

I borrowed D’s car and drove for miles across the fens to collect them. Eventually I found the isolated farmhouse and received an old fashioned English welcome. Lots of chat, a large mug of tea and the luxury of swapping notes.

It turned out that we were all self employed. This couple were entrepreneurial. gardeners and eBay masters. We were intrigued by each other’s lives.

Eventually I had to head home and we attempted to stow the two meat safes in the car. The big one wouldn’t fit. We did manage to squeeze it into the car but it would have meant no gear changes and a long journey in third gear was out of the question.

We tried everything. We even emptied the boot, which was full of our stuff to be recycled. I drove home with the slim meat safe and a car that was considerably lighter.

This svelte meat safe can protect eight salami from heat, flies and rats. It is now sitting in our barn, holding six hanging salami.

Hank over at Hunter Angler Gardener Cook has advised me well. He suggested buying a second hand salami fridge and a regulator (to keep the temperature a constant 55 degrees). In a few months time, the savings on our outgoings will enable me to do this.

Until then, the meat safes will have to suffice. I must admit that I panicked when Hank told me that temperatures over 60 degrees could spoil a juvenile salami. But all is now well. In an old frontier salami sort of way. Exotic, seat of the pants stuff. And the meat safeis a well made, beautiful object. I can’t wait to collect the big one. I can store masses of salami, game in the winter and at Christmas it will be a fridge. Old fashioned but the perfect place for stilton, goose and mince pies.

Someone asked me today if I had any hobbies apart from the garden. The response was instant.
“Making salami, bacon and pork pies.”

I’m having fun with this

  Leave a reply


  1. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Sylvie

    It’s great fun trying to make salami. The trick is getting the right balance of air and moisture when curing. This is a bit tricky!

    Hi Hank

    Glad the meat safe has your appeoval. Those sandwiches sound heavenly!

  2. Looks like that will work from here. As it happens, we are fishing for halibut and striped bass tomorrow and I am making lonzino and finocchiona sandwiches with sorrel and a bit of provolone to eat on the water…good luck with your salami!

  3. Sylvie

    That sounds fantastic. I have to say I’m quite envious.

  4. Fiona Nevile

    Hi nà

    Wow – 17 months without a fridge!

    The meat safe is a pretty thing. And perfect for maturing salami in the cool barn.

    Hi Veronica

    I am so pleased that you are enjoying the adventure!

    Hi Kate(uk)

    You can™t beat a really good salami! I reckon that it™s going to take months to perfect my recipes.

    Hi Pamela

    Your car sounds perfect!

    Jalopy will be making the return trip with me to the Fens. Her seats fold down and I™m pretty sure that the bigger meat safe will fit. I™m going to measure the gap first though!

    Danny™s car is an ordinary saloon car “ not so good as a packhorse!

    Hi Gillie

    I reckon that a meat safe is a pretty sound investment. The bigger one will be great for hanging game in the winter and an extension of the larder at Christmas!

    I keep on playing with my bacon recipes and have finally got a recipe that we both like. Low on the salt front and smoked for hours and hours. Preserving meat is a tricky thing, I think, but fascinating too.

    A friend of mine has got the bug and is smoking meat in her chimenera!

  5. gillie

    Now that is something I would like. I’ve just cleared one of the outbuildings, so not only am I feeling very pious but also think that a little treat (such as a meatsafe to go in the outbuilding) would be perfect! Then all I have to do is make the salami to go in it. I’ve never tried salami before though I was planning on having a go at salted belly pork and would love to be able to make beef ham but haven’t found a proper recipe yet and suspect it is harder than it sounds. But first step the meatsafe …..sigh.

  6. Pamela

    Hi Fiona

    Just had a look at meat safes on Ebay and I really want one – just because they are such lovely pieces of furniture. How sad you couldn’t fit the larger one in your car. When you really need to transport large items what you need is a Kangoo. I’m convinced mine is really a Tardis. When I bought it I got all sorts of comments along the lines of why on earth would I buy such a large car. It’s actually high rather than long. That all stopped the day a large TV needed to be exchanged at school so that the world cup could be watched in the Art’s Centre. I came out to find the Head and Deputy trying to get the faulty TV into the school minibus to return it. It was looking a bit like something off the Generation Game. They had already tried the Head’s people carrier and it wouldn’t fit. I was heading home and hadn’t intended getting involved but couldn’t help myself from commenting that it would fit in my car. I swear I could see the cogs whirring in their heads. They ran off to get a tape measure and sure enough – a perfect fit. It slid in upright and widthways without even folding down the seats. I was offered triple mileage rate to drive to Preston!

  7. Kate(uk)

    I’m enjoying reading about it too: salami is not something I’m wild about, but I guess I’ve always had nasty salami made in a salami factory rather than proper hand made stuff!

  8. Veronica

    Your projects are amazing! I’ll never make salami myself, but I’m enjoying the vicarious adventure 🙂

  9. nà

    that all sounds lots of fun, i must say! and those meat safes are gorgeous! ah for the joys of ebay!!! well done! you know we have been living for 17 months without a fridge now, in italy, so i’m sure you’ll be fine with your meat safe. obviously you’re going to need a fridge or freezer with all that meat, sooner or later, but the meat safe is absolutely lovely!!!

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