Salami calabrese: Day 7
My salami are now seven days old. This is not a conventional birthday, but I thought every week seemed like an appropriate time to wait between weigh-ins. In the past I have weighed them every other day, which is a little excessive. It helped to make a really great graph, but was more trouble than it was worth.
I have been keeping the temp at 55 degrees F and the humidity as high as I can. I’ve been keeping a pan of water in the chamber and usually once a day I turn on the humidifier to keep the environment nice and moist. I’m not sure that the white mold is growing on the outside, but that’s OK.
Here are the current weights of the salami bundles and their average loss:
#4: 290 grams (39.8%)
#4 (blue): 324 grams (35.3%)
#5: 327 grams (39.1%)
#6: 367 (38.5%)
At first I was a little worried that the salami were losing weigh too fast. After all, you try going seven days without food and see what happens to you. However, I checked my salami logs from previous projects and this is a trend that always seems to happen. The salami have turned out fine in the past, so I’m not too worried.
New meat project: Salami calabrese
I started a new salami project a few days ago (Day 1: Nov. 12th, 2012). It is an all pork sausage flavored with crushed red pepper, cracked black pepper, garlic and red wine. It is in the style of the salamis made in Calabria, in the southern part of Italy. It is a recipe from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Salumi: The Art of Italian Dry Curing. Usually I only make a half recipe, but this time I decided to do the full five pound batch. After all the grinding and casing I ended up with 19 (more or less) six inch links.
After a 12 hour fermentation stage (to let the Bactoferm F-RM-52 lactic acid starter culture grow) they moved onto the drying stage. Now the salamis will stay in my homemade curing chamber (a repurposed mini fridge) for the next three to four weeks until they have lost about 30% of their water weigh. The starter culture will help give the meat the distinct tanginess we associate with salami, as well as fight off any bad bacteria that might try to grow.
I also hung a regular grocery store Gallo salami in the chamber next to mine, in the hopes that the harmless white surface mold from the commercial sausage would spread to the others. This thin layer of powdery mold helps to slow the loss of moisture and discourages the growth of unwanted mold on the casing. Instead of weighing the salami individually I chose to weigh them in the bunches of four, five and six links that I hung them in. I had two group of four, so I made a mark with a blue highlighter on one of the strings to tell them apart. Here are their initial weights:
#4: 482 grams
#4 (blue): 501 grams
#5: 537 grams
#6: 597 grams
*Picture is from Day 2
After about 12 days of constant supervision my salamis are done. Much like the lowly caterpillar who transforms into a beautiful butterfly, my hanging sticks of raw meat have now become dried, garlicky examples of man’s ingenuity and dedication.
Can you tell I am excited?
The Creation (of Saucisson Sec) : Day 1
Here is a photo of my salami hanging in a curing chamber I made out of a cooler. I decided to go with the “Saucisson Sec” recipe from Charcuterie this time around because it is the only cured sausage in the book that does not require a starter culture! It is an all pork sausage that is seasoned with garlic and coarsely ground black pepper. I cut the recipe in half and ended up with about 6 decent sized links from the 2.5 lbs of pork. Plus one lil chub you can see on the far right. I am very excited for this. Wish me luck.
Salami Project: Day 12
My salami project is complete! After almost two weeks of constant salami-worrying my meat projects are finally ready to eat.
The finished salamis have a nice, firm texture and a dark red appearance. The meat has a subtle spice that’s accentuated by large chunks of fat, whole black peppercorns and toasted fennel seeds. In other words: the salami is bomb.com
Overall salami yield: 776 grams/ 1.71 pounds
Average total loss by weight (of all 5 salamis): 37.488%
Salami Project: Day 8
I have been keeping the temperature of the curing chamber between 50-55 degrees F and the humidity at about 65% for the last 8 days now. The salamis appear to be coming along quite nicely. Of course, I won’t know until I’m finished drying them if anything funky is going on inside, but all signs so far have been encouraging. They don’t feel excessively hard on the outside, and I think they are beginning to grow some of the “good” white mold on the casings. The recipe I am using (Tuscany Salami from Ruhlman and Polcyn’s Charcuterie) recommends a 12-18 day drying period when using hog casings.
Above I included a picture of my scale and one of the larger salamis getting a weigh-in. It started out weighing 280 grams and now he is down to 206! Major weight loss. He must be on one of those crazy Hollywood juice diets.
Average total loss by weight (of all 5 salamis): 30.118%
Salami Project: Day 4
I have decided to weigh my salamis (individually) every other day. The recommended weight loss for a finished salami is between 30-35%. Today I was very pleased to discover that, on average, the salamis have already lost 18.04% of their weight!
I also made up another batch of the Bactoferm 600 mold (M-EK-4) that I ordered from the Butcher and Packer website. After it had incubated for 12 hours, I diluted the solution with water to prepare the salamis for dipping. This particular mold is known as Penicillium nalgiovense and has a a white, powdery appearance when growing on the sausages. The Bactoferm 600 mold works in three ways to benefit the salami’s development in the drying stage. By encouraging the growth of good bacteria there is a lesser chance of bad bacterias, or “badterias”, taking hold and ruining the meat for consumption. This “good” surface mold also helps to lower the pH of the salami and improve the flavor. Finally, the mold helps to discourage case hardening, and the development of a dry, gray ring within the meat.
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!