Fermentation of Salami

Miles Griffiths

What is Salami?

Salami is a type of cured sausage consisting of fermented and air-dried meat, typically beef or pork.

How many different types of salami are there?

There are 6 types of salami, Geneo Salami, Soppressata, Pepperoni, Herbed or peppered salami, Nduja, Cotto salami

How is salami fermented?

Fermented sausages are cured sausages and to produce salami of a consistent quality one must strictly obey the rules of sausage making. This field of knowledge has been limited to just a few lucky ones but with today's meat science and starter cultures available to everybody, there is little reason to abstain from making quality salamis at home. It is unlikely that a home sausage maker will measure meat pH (acidity) or Aw (water activity) but he should control temperatures and humidity levels in his drying chamber.

Type of bacteria

Lactic acid, yeasts, molds and curing bacteria

How to make basic salami


  • Start by setting out 1/2 to 2/3 pound of the pork and dicing it fine. I like doing this because it varies the grind within the sausage from very fine to chunky. To me, this is more interesting. You can run it all through the grinder if you prefer, or if you think someone will get all crazy if they see big pieces of fat in their salami. Cut the remaining fat and meat into chunks that will fit into your grinder. Trim as much sinew and silverskin as you can.
  • Put both the diced and chunked fat into separate containers in the fridge. Mix the salt with the meat and put it in the fridge overnight. This helps develop myosin, which will give you a tighter bind when you stuff the links later.
  • The next day, put the fat and your grinding equipment — blade, coarse and fine die, etc — in the freezer. Mix the Instacure, garlic and half the black pepper into the meat. Put that in the freezer, too. Let everything chill down until the meat hits about 28°F or so. It won’t freeze solid because of the salt. Normally this takes about 90 minutes. While you’re waiting, soak about 15 feet of hog casings in a bowl of warm water, and put the red wine in the fridge.
  • When the meat and fat are cold, take them out and mix together, but keep the diced fat separate for now. Grind 1/2 to 2/3 of the mixture through the coarse die of the grinder. Grind the rest through the fine die. I do this to vary my grind, which makes for a better texture in my opinion. Sometimes I do 3/4 fine and 1/4 coarse, depending on my mood. The key is variability.
  • Put the meat and fat back in the freezer while you clean up. Dissolve the starter culture in with the distilled water.
  • When the meat mixture is back below 35°F, you can mix it. I put the mixture into a big plastic bin with the diced fat, the remaining black pepper, the red wine and the starter culture mixture and mix it by hand for about 2 to 3 minutes. If you do this, you’ll know the mixture’s cold enough if your hands ache from the chill. Or, you can put everything into a big stand mixer and mix on low for 90 seconds to 2 minutes. I prefer to mix by hand.
  • Put the sausage in the fridge while you clean up. Run some clean water through your casings to flush them and to see if you have any leaks. Cut lengths of casing of about two feet to 30 inches and set all but one back in the water. Thread the one onto your sausage stuffer.
  • Pack the sausage into your stuffer and get ready to make the salami. Leave 4 to 6 inches of casing hanging from the edge of the stuffer as a “tail;” you’ll use this to tie off the salami in a bit. Start working the meat into the casing, using your fingers to flush any air out of the casing and to regulate the flow. I prefer straight links of about 10 inches to a foot. Remove the link from the stuffer and repeat with the remaining casings and sausage.
  • Now gently compress the meat within each casing, watching for air bubbles. Heat a needle or asausage pricker in the flames of your stove to sterilize it, and prick the links to let any trapped air out. Tie off both ends of the link in a double or triple knot (you don’t need a specialized butterfly knot with hog casings) and then tie a loop of kitchen twine to one end, making sure the twine knot is underneath the casing knot you just made: This will prevent the twine from slipping off. Hang your sausages from “S” hooks or somesuch on a wooden rack.
  • To ferment your links, you will need to keep them warm and moist. I do this by putting a humidifier under the hanging sausages and then tenting the whole shebang with big garbage bags that I’ve sliced open on one end. I also use a water sprayer to spritz my sausages a couple times a day. Doing this prevents the casings from hardening. Keep your sausages hanging at room temperature (65 to 80°F) for two to three days.
  • Now you need to dry your sausages and turn them into salami. Hang them in a place that is about 50°F to 60°F with about 80 to 90 percent humidity. In most cases you will need to put a humidifier under your links. I also spritz them with water once a day for the first 2 weeks. After the first week of hanging, drop the humidity to 70 to 80 percent. On the third week drop it again to 65 to 70 percent and hold it there until a total of 5 to 10 weeks has elapsed since the salami went into the chamber.
  • You now have salami. To store long-term, vacuum seal them individually and keep in the fridge. They will last indefinitely this way, and the vacuum sealing will keep them from becoming rock hard. You can also freeze them.
  • Time required

    3 hours to prepare, 1month to cure

    Factors

    Air humidity, time to ferment, temperature

    Chemical changes in salami


    Several chemical changes occur during the ripening of dry-fermented sausages that determine the flavor and odor of the end product. The phenomena that take place during fermentation, that is, both acidification of the sugars by lactic acid bacteria and reduction of nitrates and nitrites to nitric oxide by micrococci have been known for several years.

    Effect of ph on salami

    foods with a low ph value develop a resistance against microbial infection