Charcuterie: Dry-Cured Salami / SalumiCharcuterie
Posted 13 February 2010 - 05:04 PM
I have quite a few books on charcuterie, including the Marianski book dedicated to dry-curing. I do my curing in a wine fridge, I've got a smoker set up, I use the Northern Tool grinder, and a cylinder stuffer with a 5lb capacity. Hell, I've even got an old slicer I got off eBay. I should be totally good to go. But sometimes, you just have one of those days...
This morning I threw away twelve pounds of salami that I started curing last weekend. The problem? I killed the starter. Somehow. Dunno what I did, but when my new pH test strips arrived (thanks for the recommendation, Dougal, they worked great), to my surprise the pH had not dropped one bit. But, it turns out the three-year-old bottle of distilled water I was using to make the meat slurry had a pH of 5.5!!!
So, this topic is for advice, assistance, and general commiseration about how everything woulda been just fine if only...
Advice point 1: when that package of starter culture says "use no less than 1/4 of this package," they have a reason. Because instead, I foolishly followed the Marianski recipe to the letter and included only 0.6 grams of starter. The results speak for themselves. Hey, maybe that's not what did it, maybe there was something else wrong. But $45 in trashed meat later and I'm seriously regretting my decision to skimp on the starter.
Posted 13 February 2010 - 06:27 PM
Posted 15 February 2010 - 04:05 PM
IIRC Ruhlman even does some - sometimes using 'Fermento' for flavouring, rather than fermentation for protection.
As long as you are sure that there was an appropriate amount of Cure No2 (nitrite + nitrate) well-distributed through the mix, I'm surprised that you dumped it.
The characteristic 'pinkening' of the meat is a visual confirmation of nitrite/nitrate curing.
If the meat were grey or brown, I'd be dumping it as quickly as I could.
But the nitrate/nitrite cure should ensure safety from C Bot. And your sausages look nice and pink ...
OK, so the flavour without overt acidifying fermentation might be different to your expectations, but it should be perfectly safe.
You might be interested to search Jane Grigson's Charcuterie book (first published 1967 and about then-current rural artisanal French practice) for any reference whatsoever to bacterial cultures. I've not found one.
Its only if you are trying to work without nitrite & nitrate that acidification becomes a vital safety matter.
However, we are all entitled to choose what margin of safety we are comfortable with - most especially when we offer the fruits of our labours to others.
Nevertheless, it seems like an extremely cautious action to dump the lot because you hadn't detected acidification, and without any other indication of a failed cure.
You could have completed the cure and given first tasting rights to a neighbour's dog if you yourself didn't fancy the role of guinea pig, once known as the Court Taster. (Beware the salami and the mushrooms at the Borgia's!)
Certainly, I suggested using cheap pH papers rather than an expensive (and annoyingly fussy and demanding) meter.
Nevertheless, I wouldn't have expected you to be dumping large quantities of nitrate-protected meat on the basis of a pH reading alone (whether from a test paper or an unreliable meter).
Have you checked the pH you measure when testing (with identical methodology) other samples of dried sausage, commercial and home-cured?
It might be interesting to try calibrating your taste sensation of acid tangeyness against your standard-methodology measurements.
Anyway, a practical question, how much are you diluting the meat to make your "slurry"?
Posted 15 February 2010 - 04:54 PM
Posted 15 February 2010 - 09:13 PM
To do the pH measurement I am diluting the salami with an equal weight of water. I didn't bother to correct the numbers I reported for the dilution since they were so far off the target pH. If my math is correct, if I dilute a sausage with a pH of 4.9 by half, I should measure a pH of about 5.2. The (corrected) pH of my Salami Lombardia mixture before curing was about 6.
Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:33 AM
Because the sausage isn't 100% water, and because only a fraction of the sausage-water is truly free to mix with the dilution water, I think an apparent 50:50 dilution could in effect be a massively greater dilution.
I'd be thinking of testing by cutting up your sample as finely as you possibly can - really mincing it with your knife. Then I'd be adding a tiny amount of water, maybe 5 to 10% of the meat sample weight, and continue chopping to mix the water in. And then I'd leave it to infuse for a while. Absent a stoppered test tube, wrapping the wet meat in clingfilm sounds like a reasonable idea.
After half an hour or so of infusion at room temperature, I'd try and squeeze a drop of liquor from the paste and test that drop with the test paper. Maybe a scrupulously clean garlic crusher would help with the squeezing.
And I'd be trying to calibrate my method against the sharpest, most acid, sausage I could lay my hands on.
Certainly, I wouldn't believe that my sausage WASN'T acid until after I had successfully detected the acidity in a "known-good" sample of sausage.
The pH paper should test the solution's pH well enough. The thing I'd be worrying about was whether the solution adequately represented the sausage - which is why I'd be doing "calibration trials" against known acid ("tangey") sausages. And minimising the dilution.
I'm sure that commercially, macroscopic samples would be blitzed in some sort of blender -- but domestically, you'd want to be taking the smallest possible sample, which probably rules out your blender.
Edited by dougal, 16 February 2010 - 03:34 AM.
Posted 16 February 2010 - 12:16 PM
Posted 19 February 2010 - 02:19 PM
Using the test strips I've got, and armed with two fresh batches of salami at 80 hours of fermentation at 20°C with the T-SPX culture (adding in greater quantity and with greater care than before), I tried a few different pH measurement techniques.
First off, I simply pressed the test area onto the middle part of a sample cut off of my test article:
Second, I added just a drop or two of tap water to the test sample, mashed it in with a fork, and again pressed the strip against it:
Next, I followed the instructions typically given in books to make a slurry using 50/50 salami and water. I mashed the salami and water together thoroughly with a fork, and then immediately dipped the strip, scooping against the meat chunks:
Next, I took dougal's suggestion and let that slurry "marinate" for an hour. I then stirred it up a bit more, and again scooping against the meat:
Finally, as a control test I wetted a piece of clean paper towel with tap water, and then squeezed it as dry as I could, in an attempt to approximate the moistness of the first test sample (the salami alone test, with no additional water):
It's interesting to me to look back at these photos as see how much clearer the colors are than they were live in my kitchen: there, the differing reflectivity of the test sample and the chart made it a bit difficult to compare the colors, as opposed to looking more at the darkness, or saturation. For reference, based on the quantity of sugar in these salami and the fermentation temperature, I expect the pH after 80 hours to be approximately 4.8, if everything worked properly. This is the minimum pH I expect to reach during the process, after 80 hours nearly all of the sugar should have been consumed by the T-SPX.
In the photos, a couple things seem apparent:
First off, the "control" sample I show at the end gives the same results as dipping the strip in a cup of tap water (no photo taken, but I compared them side-by-side), which confirms that very little actual liquid is required to get a measurement.
Second, I believe this confirms dougal's suggestion above that the slurry is much more dilute than expected, at least until it has "marinated" for a hour. I only tested a one-hour time lapse: it could well be that it takes several hours for the solution to equalize at the actual pH. By my reading the pH of the pre-marination reads between 6 and 6.5, whereas after an hour it reads closer to the 5.6 on the chart (which corresponds to an actual measured pH of 5.3 once corrected for the dilution).
Third, the pH measured by simply pressing the strip into the middle of a freshly-cut piece of my test article gives between 4.8 and 5.2, basically exactly the expected pH for a successful fermentation. So IF this is a valid measurement technique, then the pH is spot on, the fermentation was successful, and my second safety factor is in place (the cure #2 being the first line of defense). Any suggestions on how else to test the correctness of this way of using the papers?
Finally, here are the salami after fermentation (the plastic-wrapped bit in the middle is one of my test samples). On the far side are three Salami Finocchiona, and an the near are four Salami Lombardia.
Posted 04 March 2010 - 03:49 PM
Posted 22 March 2010 - 08:47 AM
A few of them had small patches of green mold on them:
After Chris Amirault's and my encounter at the Calabria Pork Store, I followed that guy's practice of washing and skinning the salami, and not worrying about the green mold. I then vacuum-sealed them and tossed them in the refrigerator where I will leave them for the next week to allow the internal moisture to even out some. I sampled the ends of a couple of them and they both turned out very well. I thought the Lombardia tasted a little too salty, considering that it has very little other flavorings besides just the taste of the cured pork. The Finocchiona was fantastic, though.
Posted 25 March 2010 - 04:41 PM
I am in N.California, started making salami several month ago, made total ~15 lbs so far with great results. So far I was drying it in my garage and the temperature/humidity was perferct (50-60F, ~60%) until a few weeks ago, when it became too warm during daytime. Then I converted small dorm fridge with diy temperature controller.
Now, I had a batch of Salame di Sant'Olcese with a T-SPX starter, fermented with a light smoke at ~75F for 60 hours, then put it in my fridge. Longs story short, few hours later accidentally disconnected my temperature controller and the temperature in the fridge dropped to about 37F for 5-6 hours or so while I noticed it, then I returned it back to 55F.
Now, the question is: is this batch completelly ruined or is it safe to use it when it is dryed?
Anything can be done to salvage it?
Posted 25 March 2010 - 04:50 PM
Posted 26 March 2010 - 06:21 AM
I was thinking of just a tight wrap with cheesecloth and then the netting.
Will this work or do we need the casings.
Posted 26 March 2010 - 08:50 AM
Posted 26 March 2010 - 10:36 PM
Encouraged by the discussions of green fur being washed off, this time round I started at the right time of year. The sausages were simply hung in the [cool but otherwise near ideal] conditions out in the unheated workshop about a month ago. They could, I think, have been called ready a week ago, had I been home to deal with them. In any case, here's the result. I'm happy.
Stuffed into regular hog casings, the only deviation from the Ruhlman recipe was a rather heavy hand with the garlic. Not a disaster in these parts
With vague notions of innoculation, after stuffing the casings were wiped down with a piece of white-molded rind from some brie we had to hand, but at no point was any sign found of the mold on the sausages. The dark flecks visible in the cut product are coarse black pepper.
Posted 26 April 2010 - 04:14 PM
Posted 26 April 2010 - 04:56 PM
Posted 26 April 2010 - 05:08 PM
Posted 13 July 2010 - 09:08 PM
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:14 AM
Posted 14 July 2010 - 08:25 AM
Posted 15 July 2010 - 09:55 AM
Posted 15 July 2010 - 02:20 PM
To Chris H's point, it's always worth remembering that this particular art started in caves, basements, and kitchens. (Let's not even talk about Arthur Ave store fronts.) Tossing in some slight temperature variability is probably not worrisome for the home charcutier.
Posted 15 July 2010 - 02:48 PM
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