Monday, June 8, 2009

Slow Salami Sunday

I must be more of an idiot than even my 9th Grade math teacher believed me to be. The guy was a former Wehrmacht commando and competitive water skier so you can imagine how convincing his opinions were.

Sunday (6/7) was a beautiful sunny spring day. I had lots of garden related stuff to do: a huge pile of composted mushroom soil to move, shrubs to dig out and replant and a googoplex of weeds to pull. But instead of taking the rational course and spending the entire day out of doors, I spent about a third of it in the house starting a batch of Tuscan salami, taking pictures and writing this post.

Okay, no use beating myself up over doing something that I love to do, I suppose. Here’s what I did today with a description of how I did it.

Step 1) Determine weight of available meat and the weight of the proportion of fat.

I had a bone-in picnic shoulder ham from the supermarket. Since I could not use the bone or skin in the salami, I had to filet and skin it and determine how much meat I had to work with.

After the bone and skin was removed I had 2576 grams (~92 ounces) of meat. I like the salami to be smooth and fatty so I decided to add some belly fat at the rate of 20% of the meat or 504 grams (18 oz). Fatback would have been a better choice because it's firmer and holds up better during aging (So slap me!).

Step 2) Write a recipe from the master recipe in my secret book of salumi recipes.

Since my secret book has all the data for what percentage of the meat and fat each ingredient should be. All I had to do to work up the recipe was add up the weight of the meat and fat and multiple that number (3125 grams) by the percent value of each ingredient ( Column III in the table below) and determine how much of each thing I needed (Col. II)

Ingredient Weight (g) % ingredient Notes
Meat 2576 1 Grind fine
Belly fat
504 0.20 Grind coarse

Total meat and fat






Instacure #1



Fennel seeds, whole



Toast them
Garlic, fresh



Fine mince
Pepper, black



Coarse grind
Red Wine



Dextrose powder



Bactoferm F-RM-52



Disperse in water
Water, cold



If I'd been at the farm where we almost always have some lactobacilli rich whey, I'd have omitted the Bactoferm and used the whey to lower the pH instead. Whey is way cheaper to use than Bactoferm and works the same way: the bacteria ferment the meat giving it a slightly tart taste and reduce the nitrate in compounds that brighten the color of the meat and destroy pathogenic bacteria.

After the meat has fermented for a few days in the refrigerator, I'll grind it. Then I'll take it to the farm where we have a proper sausage stuffing machine, stuff it into hog or beef casings, tie it off, bring it back home and hang it in the basement. I'll try to remember t take pictures of the rest of the process and post them here forthrightly.


Tags said...

If he thought you were an idiot, I'm more inclined to believe he was in the Daftwaffe.

Scotty said...

You have mentioned refrigerator fermentation before. Whey aside, do you find the pre-grind refrigerator product superior to the post grind warm, moist method?

Bob del Grosso said...

Danke for the vote of confidence.

The refrigerator method is superior only in that it is cheaper and easier.

If whey or ambient bacteria are used to carry out fermentation and reduce the nitrite and nitrate that's much cheaper than using an expensive culture.

Fermenting the meat in the fridge for a few days allows you to skip putting the salami in a "hot box" to jump start fermentation.

I've never tried the fridge with or without whey method for strindly sour salami but it handily matches the flavor profile delivered by Bactoferm F-blah blah 52.

Jon in Albany said...

Alright, I'm new to this and have a dumb question. When you are hanging something to air dry for awhile, I thought you were supposed to use Cure#2 instead of #1. Am I crossing the two cures?

Don't tell your teacher I asked.

Bob del Grosso said...

jon in albany

Since I'm stuffing this into hog casings and not hanging it for more than a couple of weeks sodium nitrite only should be fine. If I was planning to use a wider casing and hang them longer I'd use a mixture of nitrate and nitrite.

ntsc said...

Do you know about these people?

Spent a very pleasant Sunday morning there, but forgot camera. He also does charcuterie, but doesn't sell it.

He uses whey to make proscuitto (feeds it to pigs along with bread that didn't sell).

I think I met my next dry cured ham there.

Bob del Grosso said...

I met Jonathan White years ago. He was visiting the CIA and brought up some fabulous cheese. I was very impressed.

Jon in Albany said...

Thanks Bob. Just a quick follow up: is there a rule of thumb about how long cure#1 will work by itself? Sounds like it might be in the 2 to 3 week range.

I'm looking forward to seeing the finished product.

Bob del Grosso said...

jon in albany

If you are making salumi from comminuted (chopped/ground) meat and it going to hang for more than 2-3 weeks the USDA says you should use a mixture of sodium nitrite and nitrate (insta cure # 2, TCM # 2, Prague powder # 2, DC # 2.

I'm using Instacure #1 (nitrite only) because I expect the salmi will be ready to harvest in 2-3 weeks.

latetotheparty said...

I'm excited to see the next step(s). I'd like to get into this and will be interested to see what you recommend by way of hardware for doing this at home. Thanks for sharing.