My first batch of homemade salami
Making salami at home requires a very specific temperature and humidity chamber in which the sausage will have time to dry and cure. Unlike conventional sausage that is intended for cooking over high heat, salami is cured by the addition of bacteria that flavors and preserves the uncooked meat. By adding beneficial bacteria, which lowers the pH and creates lactic acid, the salami is protected from other harmful bacteria (like botulism). As the hanging meat dries the lactic acid secreted by the bacteria creates the distinct tangy flavor associated with salami.
I started by putting a humidifier inside of my mini fridge so that I could manually control the humidity within the chamber. Ideally the humidity within the chamber would be 65%. If the chamber is too dry the salami will exhibit “case hardening,” which occurs when the casing dries too quickly and moisture is trapped inside the sausage. This results in a tough, dried exterior and a wet, gooey interior. This is bad. If the humidity is too high the salami will not dry out and the process becomes even longer.
I am maintaining the temperature by setting the fridge on the lowest possible setting (highest temperature) that the unit is capable of. This seems to be staying at around 50-55 degrees F, which is perfect.
When the salami has lost about 30% of it’s weight (due to water loss) they are ready to eat. Hopefully within a few weeks these meaty projects will be ready to enjoy.
I used a recipe for the Toscano Salami from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s fantastic Charcuterie book I bought last fall.
Wish me luck!