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Chris Hennes

Charcuterie: Dry-Cured Salami / Salumi

78 posts in this topic

I think you should still be fine food-safety-wise, Cure #2 is potent stuff for keeping unwanted things from growing. I'd be a bit concerned about case-hardening though, at that low humidity.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Thanks, good news - this is actually the nicest drying I have done. I will post some pics, but so far it really looks perfect and was not stoked on tossing a batch that looks so nice. Can you explain why the guidelines are at such a lower temperature then? Be great to not have to force the temp down to 60 this time of year if not necessary.

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Well, there are others out there who may be able to explain better than me, but what you have is an optimal temperature that will give you the best results, and some range around that where it works, but isn't as good. I don't know here whether "good" is a food safety thing alone, or if it's about flavor development, texture, etc.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Welcome to the Society, zavodny!

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.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Thanks for the welcome and the input. I also sent a note off to Ruhlman and he offered the same guidance and lack of concern. I don't have a problem tossing something if it has gone off and I like to err on the side of caution, but I also don't like to be overly paranoid and well... it looks and smells so good! These forums have provided a lot of inspiration, hopefully I can give some meaningful input going forward.

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So I've been making charcuterie of various and sundry types for the better part of a year now, and with my first dry-cured items coming done of late (flat pancetta done, tolled should be ready this week, next week for some bresaola) I had decided that dry-cured sausages would be my next project. I had intended to do the Peperone from the Ruhlman book in hog casings then the Tuscan Salami in beef middles but today I found some pork shoulder for a great price (for summertime, anyway--$1/lb) so the schedule has been accelerated and changed somewhat. I have the Cure #2 already, but I lack the starter culture for fermenting sausages, though I ordered it tonight from Butcher-Packer. My question is this: If I go ahead and grind, season, mix, and bind the meat for the salame, will it keep in the refrigerator ok until I get the starter in? I could then add it, stuff, and incubate before hanging to dry.

It seems like this would be an acceptable if not ideal workaround for the issue, but I'm apprehensive since stuff sometimes takes a while to get here from Butcher-Packer. Any reason this won't work?

Also, and maybe this stuff is better in the Charcuterie thread, but the instructions for starter culture typically give a minimum amount to be used. That same amount prescribed for 5 lbs should also be sufficient for 10 lbs, too, right? (I typically double receipes for 5 lb batches). I'm slightly unclear on how the starter functions--can one stuff the salami immidiately after inoculating them? Or does the entire batch need some time to gel together beforehand? Seems like you should be able to go right on ahead but I just wanted to double check.

I hope the combined wisdom and experience here can help guide me here. I'm very excited about this but given the (knock on wood) very limited losses thus far to spoilage I'm a bit apprehensive about doing this dry-cured thing the wrong way.

-Andy


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Thank you to everyone for the guidance on the Tuscan Salami - turned out fantastic! Now I do have a lot of salami that has dried to where I want it - how do you all store it? I can't see it being around for more then 4-5 weeks... but for then do you just leave at room temp? Food saver it and put in fridge? Freezer? Thoughts?

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thirtyoneknots, I would suggest holding off on doing anything until the culture arrives, you want to make sure it is well-incorporated into the meat mixture, and the best way to do that is to add it before you do the bind. In my opinion you should prep the pork for the grinding, even add the seasonings to it, and then freeze it. When you have the culture, let the pork thaw enough to grind, then add the culture and do the bind. As for the amount of culture, you are right, for any quantity less than about 50 lbs you are just going to want to use the minimum recommended amount.

zavadny, glad to hear the salami turned out well. I personally like to vacuum pack mine and keep it in the fridge. I actually find that a week or two vacuum packed improves the texture of the final product. I also find that it freezes with no trouble, but I think others have reported degradation: I don't know quite what's going on there.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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thirtyoneknots, I would suggest holding off on doing anything until the culture arrives, you want to make sure it is well-incorporated into the meat mixture, and the best way to do that is to add it before you do the bind. In my opinion you should prep the pork for the grinding, even add the seasonings to it, and then freeze it. When you have the culture, let the pork thaw enough to grind, then add the culture and do the bind. As for the amount of culture, you are right, for any quantity less than about 50 lbs you are just going to want to use the minimum recommended amount.

Hmm ok I may have to just do that. I'm grateful for the great price on the pork but the timing wasn't great. Unless the culture shows up by Thursday (not likely if past history is an indicator) then it looks like I'll have to wait til next week. Oh well. Thanks for the pointers!


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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The starter culture serves 2 purposes: a) it flavors the meat b.) most importantly it lowers the pH of the meat to prevent the growth of pathogenic bacteria. For a very, pardon the pun, meaty discussion of the uses of starters, pH, aW (available water), etc. I would read The Art of Fermented Sausages by Marianski & Marianski. Although a great book, Polcyn & Ruhlman do not in my opinion give enough explaination of the chemistry and pathogenic organisms for dry cured sausages.


Tom Gengo

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I agree, Marianski and Marianski have an excellent section on the various starter cultures, in particular their research on the time vs. pH during the incubation and curing stages. My problem with M&M is that they recommend the use of incredibly tiny amounts of starter culture in these small batches, which I don't think is a good idea considering the widely varying nature of home freezers for storing the culture.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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That book is on my to-get list, but it may have to wait til Christmas. I think Ruhlman & Polcyn can keep me busy til then ;)


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Ok so the cultures are in, the other projects are out of the chamber (and are delicious), it's time to proceed with salami. I'm a little confused here though; the instructions with the package say use at least 1/4 of it though it is only 25g in the package. Elsewhere I have seen Mr. Hennes say he has had trouble using only 6g of starter. Ruhlman says use at least 1/4 of the package then mandates 20g of culture in the recipe itself (while saying this is 1/4 cup--highly unlikely). I'm ok with using the entire package if I need to though given the relative expense involved I'd rather use the minimum that is safe. The contradictory information here is pretty frustrating though.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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For what it is worth, I have been using a 1/2 a package (food saver and freeze the other 1/2) with success and no issues. I have seen that many use the 1/4 package, but I figured 1/2 was a safe point and good investment in the risk vs reward factor.

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It wasn't 6g I used, it was 0.6g. And it turned out that my pH measurements were crap, so it's not conclusive whether that actually was a problem in the end. And the information is not really contradictory: it's just differing amounts of butt-covering. As dougal points out above, you can make salume with no starter at all. You add the starter to make sure you get the right bacteria growing and consuming the sugars you have added, lowering the acidity and flavoring the meat. But starter really works just like, say, yeast in bread: you can add any quantity you want, as long as you are willing to wait longer for it to act when you use tiny amounts. The danger in using tiny amounts of this particular starter is that it is more fragile than bread yeast, and is more likely to have dead spots in the package due to improper handling. If you add only the starter from one of the dead spots, it's like you didn't add it at all. So: cover your butt, add more than you need.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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For about 6 months, I've been adding starter (F-RM-52) at a rate of 0.05-0.1% of the meat+fat weight, then doing a 3-5 day ferment in the fridge with meat, fat, and seasonings. I haven't had any problems with failed fermentation thus far, but note that I haven't taken pH measurements, just evaluated 'tang' in the final product. I was having a difficult time maintaining high enough humidity at the elevated temperatures required for a short fermentation period. The pre-grind fridge fermentation makes this step irrelevant and seems to give enough time for the small amount of starter to do its job.


 

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Also, there's something else I've been meaning to try but haven't gotten around to yet. Bod del Grosso mentions here that whey can be used instead of a commercial starter. Not often in possession of proper whey myself, the liquid that separates from yogurt (actually, I suppose there's no reason not to consider that whey) could be used to similar effect. It's filled with the same lactobacilli that are in most starter cultures and there should be plenty of microbes to ferment a 5 lb batch with as little as an ounce or two.

For more recipes that utilize small amounts of starter culture, see jmolinari's blog and Len Poli's site.


 

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Thanks for the information and encouragement, folks. I clearly need lots of hand-holding for this aspect of charcuterie.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Followup: I made the stuff today (a 10 lb batch), using half the package and letting it bloom for about 15-20 min. Stuffed in beef middles, smells great so far. The wine turned it kind of dark so the cured color is a little hard to see but fingers are crossed as it incubates overnight.

Picture on twitgoo

I'll hang them tomorrow and start checking the weight in about two weeks I guess. Thanks for the help, I'll try to remember to report back on the finished product.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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With 42-45mm casings, I reach 35% weight loss in under 2 weeks. Your casings look larger, but it's always better to check earlier rather than later.


 

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With 42-45mm casings, I reach 35% weight loss in under 2 weeks. Your casings look larger, but it's always better to check earlier rather than later.

Thanks for the tip, I'll start checking in about 8-10 days then.


Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Based on feedback from the 2010 eGullet Heartland Gathering it seems that the Marianski and Marianski Finocchiona was the clear crowd favorite. The flavors had intensified a bit more over the past few months (some spent in the fridge and some in the freezer), and it disappeared about twice as fast as the other three varieties I brought. If you've got this book and are looking for a next recipe to try, I highly recommend this one.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Like Chris H, I recently started playing around with the Marianski book. I totally dig the in-depth technical explanations of all aspects of the process. The one thing thing that gives me pause, however, is their frequent recommendation of a higher relative humidity during drying (80-85%) than I've seen anywhere else (70-75% being the standard). In fact, they actually detail a gradual step-down process (p. 163 for those playing along at home), ramping down from 90% to 75-80% over the course of a two-week period, then holding steady at that lower bound.

So what gives? It is as simple as a difference between Polish tradition (the Marianskis) vs. those from France and Italy (the bulk of the resources we're likely to encounter)? Do different starter cultures benefit from different drying regimes? How about different size salumi? For larger-diameter ones, it seems intuitive that a gradual drying might help achieve a much more consistent moisture content throughout the product, as long as excessive surface mold growth can be avoided. I have a few kilos stuffed into beef middles heading starting to dry tonight. I'll follow the conditions set down in the book and report back. In the meantime, any other insight would be much appreciated.


 

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their recommendations on humidity and times are confusion and contradictory even within the book. So much so that i emailed them, and got a reply VERY quickly....different from the book.

Basically I was told that my 75-80% RH for the whole time is fine and correct. Having said that i know there are italian recipes that also have descending and ascending temperature ramps during the industrial process. These are done to minimize loss, maximize beauty (shape etc.) and would be very hard to re-create at home.

Everything for me goes into my chamber at 55/75...after a ferment at 70 deg.

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