Refurbishing A Refrigerator For Fermenting

[Mikey Sklar] wrote in to show us how he refurbished a neighbors useless refrigerator as a fermentation chamber. [Mikey] is a fan of making breads, kemchi, yogurt, and tempeh. To make these, it helps to have a completely controlled temperature for them to ferment in. [Mikey] developed a temp controller for this in the past, but had to either build a control box or use a giant chest freezer.  This is not optimal for limited space, such as a kitchen. He got lucky when a neighbor tossed a wine cooler into the trash. These little coolers are perfectly sized for a kitchen and even have a glass front so you can keep an eye on what is going on inside without having to open it and effect your temps. [Mikey] ripped it open, replaced the peltier cooler with a large heat lamp and his temp controller. Since he was making yogurt with this one, he needed only to heat it. The final product turned out pretty effective.

12 thoughts on “Refurbishing A Refrigerator For Fermenting

  1. @tgtomm The peltiers inside these baby fridges are very weak. They take over 24 hours just to reach 50F and there are many reports of the the devices failing in less than 3 months. I’m not sure if the failure is due to the undersized peltier over heating or the lousy quality driver circuit. Regardless the fridge I found in this post was already dead. I would have loved to have used it for heating and cooling it was still functional.

    Any ideas why this solid state technology isn’t more robust?

  2. I do wonder how controlled a temperature this is. Fermentation generates a LOT of heat, A heat lamp will get you into the ideal temp range for that yeast, but what protects this against “runaway fermentation temperatures?”. Fermentation can actually raise the temps enough that the yeast metabolism goes too fast. Consider adding a temperature logger to see how far things go even after you kill the lamp.

    Good job on your recycling, and saving one more piece of Haier junk from entering our landfills. (I can’t say that this -is- a Haier model, but they are the #1 vendor of “disposable” wine fridges. Based on the Amazon and Consumerist reviews, you really want to avoid this brand).

  3. Actually the peltier makes for a very efficient heater. The problem with cooling is that the device itself is creating a lot of heat, all that power your pumping into it has to go somewhere so the hot side includes both the transfered heat from the cold side and the heat from the power being fed to the device. As a heating element it will give you more BTU’s for the same amount of energy as a simple resistive element. I have a portable peltier heater/cooler as a cooler it will keep your drink “cool” as a heater it will keep your food HOT.

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