Have you ever heard of the Italian Cacciatore Salami? It’s incredible. The word cacciatore means hunter in Italian and this salami is appropriately names a hunters sausage. This sausage was often take out in the field and used for food by hunters as it was shelf stable and didn’t require refrigeration.
There are many variations of this salami. The size of the casing, the proteins that are used, and even the spice profile. For this recipe we decided to keep it very simple and allow the pork to shine through. When you make this at home feel free to play with the ingredients and tweak it to your liking!!
There are a few unique ingredients in this recipe. The first is Insta Cure #2. We use Insta Cure #2 to protect our meat against harmful bacteria (botulism) and because the processing time will be longer than 30 days to dry. Another unique ingredient is dextrose. Dextrose is a simple sugar that is used to feed the bacteria in our salami. Speaking of bacteria the final unique ingredient we will be adding is a bacterial starter culture called Flavor of Italy.
Flavor of Italy contains several different family groups of lactic acid producing bacteria (much like sauerkraut or pickles). Under the right conditions, these bacteria eat the added sugar (dextrose) and release lactic acid. It’s this very process that starts to acidify your meat, lowering the pH. When it comes to salami making the “safe zone” is a pH that’s under 5.3. Each start culture is slightly different but for Flavor of Italy our target ph will be between 5.2pH and 4.9pH.
The absolute most reliable way to test the pH of your salami is with a pH meter. If you plan on getting into this hobby you’ll want to get a reliable pH meter. This isn’t something that you want to go cheap on. A good quality pH meter will last you a long time and offer you the peace of mind of knowing that you are producing a safe product to eat. We use the pH meter from Apera Instruments PH60S-Z. This Pocket pH Tester has blue tooth capability, can be calibrated for extreme accuracy, and is very easy to use. They also make a (non bluetooth version) PH60S. The great thing about pH meters is that you can use them for all sorts of things other than salami making. We use ours to make beer/wine, cheese, fermented foods (kim chi, sauerkraut, hot sauce), kombucha, and gardening/hydroponics. There are many different styles of pH meters but if you stick to the ones that I linked above (the swiss spear units) you can do everything i mentioned without a problem.
The last thing and quite possibly the most important thing you need in order to make this salami is a place for it to dry. This salami is very unique in the sense that it will require a very long drying time. Mine too around 6 months to get to it’s target weight loss of 40%. A typical salami can take between 4-6 weeks to hit it’s target, so 6 months is a very long time and a lot can go wrong. You will need an area to hang your salami where the temperature and humidity (as well as air flow) are nearly perfect. Salami was often hung in basements or cellars as the temperature was typically cool with a fairly high humidity. If you have a basement or cellar that’s not very drafty and has an average of 55F (13C) with a high humidity (80%) then you can hang your salami in there with no worries, but for the rest of us, the best option is to have a drying chamber. A drying chamber chamber provides a controlled environment so that your salami can dry evenly. Building a drying chamber is relatively easy but if you don’t want to build one and have some rainy day money laying around buying a drying/curing chamber is even easier.
Follow basic salami preparation practices when making this sausage.
- Clean and Sanitize all of your equipment.
- Keep your meat and grinder parts super cold (below 35F) during the grinding process
- Rehydrate your starter culture (in non-chlorinated water) for 30 minutes prior to use.
- Mix your very chilled mince meat, seasonings, and starter culture till the mince becomes very tacky
- Tightly stuff the mince into casings and prick out any air pockets
- Record the starting weight and the target of each salami link
- Brush with protective mold culture
- Hang the salami to ferment for 18-24 hours (these parameters are for Flavor of Italy starter culture)
- After the pH target has been hit, hang the salami to dry till the weight loss target has been achieved.
- Remove from the drying chamber, slice thinly, and enjoy
Here are a few things you might find useful when making this salami
- Iodophor Sanitizer
- Hog Bladder
- Digital Smokers (I use the model 4D WiFi)
- Bella’s Cold Smoke Generator
- MK4 Thermapen (Accurate Thermometer)
- Sausage Pricker
- Dry Curing Cabinet
- Kotai Chef Knife (for 15% off use discount code – 2guys )
- Sausage Stuffers
- Meat Grinder
- Meat Mixers
- Stuffing Horn Cleaner
- Butcher Twine & Dispenser
- Small accurate Scale for spices
- Large Capacity Scale (33 pounds)
- Drying rack and tray
- Custom Cutting Board
- Apera pH Meter with Bluetooth
- InkBird Controllers temp & Humidity
- Dehumidifier Eva Dry 1100
- Cool Mist Ultrasonic Humidifier
- Heavy Duty Kitchen Vacuum Sealer
How do you store your salami when it’s finished
Storing your salami properly is just about as important as making your salami. You’ve spent so much time patiently waiting for your salami to dry properly the last thing you want is to have it ruined by storing it incorrectly. In all my years of salami making the advice I’m about to give is from personal experience.
I have found that the best way to store your salami is by vacuum sealing it then placing it in your refrigerator till you are ready to eat. This method will keep your salami in “stasis” for as long as a year! By vacuum sealing your salami will keep it from losing any more moisture and as an added bonus the time it remains in the refrigerator will help equalize the moisture that inside and allow the salami to “age” which will develop its flavor. It’s a win win!
Can you freeze your salami? Technically you can and many people do BUT freezing your charcuterie (salami or whole muscles) will affect the texture when it’s thawed and eaten. As the salami thaws moisture crystals (that were frozen) will be released changing the overall texture. I don’t personally recommend freezing but if you don’t mind the texture change it is certainly an option. If you are looking for an affordable vacuum sealer, consider checking out the Heavy Duty Kitchen Vacuum Sealer from the Sausage Maker. This vacuum sealer is versatile and really does a good job. It has lots of features and really makes a tight seal on your meats (which is what you want). A more economical option for more short-term storage is this Hand Held Vacuum Sealer with Zip Lock Bags also from The Sausage Maker. This is a great option for fast convenient vacuum sealing especially if you plan on taking slices off your salami frequently. This option allows you to use a small handheld sealer with special bags that can be reused time and time again.
The only thing you need to remember about vacuum sealing your salami is that all of the exterior mold coverage needs to be removed. Mold needs oxygen to survive and the moment you vacuum seal a salami with mold on it, the mold will begin to die and turn slimy. To remove the mold just wash the outside of your salami with vinegar. That should take care of it.
Enjoy the video and the recipe. If you have any questions, feel free to ask away. If you make this at home, I’d love to hear about how it came out!!
If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.
Italian Cacciatore Salami
- 1000 g fatty pork shoulder 70/30
- 25 g kosher salt
- 2.5 g Insta cure #2
- 2 g dextrose
- 1 g black pepper
- 3 g granulated table sugar
- 1 tbsp red wine
- 7 g minced garlic
- Flavor of Italy Starter Culture re-hydrate 1/4 tsp of starter in 1/8 cup of distilled water for every kilo (2.2 pounds) of meat/fat. Let this rest for 30 minutes
- mold 600 re-hydrate 1/2 tsp of mold in 1/2 cup of non-chlorinated water. This will do about 5-10 pounds of salami. Let sit at room temp for at least 5 hours before use
- Protein Lined sausage casings I use 61mm casings
- Combine the wine and the garlic and let marinate for a few hours.
- Clean your meat of any sinew or silverskin and cut the meat and fat into small chunks (small enough to fit into your grinder)
- Chill your meat to 32f-34f. Grind chilled meat and fat through a course plate (10mm or 8mm). Rechill after grinding.
- Add all of the spices, cure, dextrose, wine/garlic to the mince meat. Mix to combine, then cover and refrigerate overnight. (You are NOT adding the starter culture at this step)
- If you are using a mold culture prepare at least 2-3 hours before you need it. This will give it a chance to "wake up".
- Prepare the casing by soaking in luke warm water and prepare the starter culture as it needs to rehydrate for a least 30 minutes
- Take the seasoned meat out of your refrigerator and place it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Once it's rechilled take it out of the freezer, add the starter culture to your mince and begin mixing. Mix well until everything is thoroughly incorporated. It should feel tacky and stick to your hand if you turn your hand upside down, when finished.
- Stuff the mince into your casings, prick with a sausage pricker, and if you plan on using mold this would be a good time to brush it on. Also weigh your salami and record the weight.
- Ferment your salami by placing them in an environment that between 75F and 85F with high humidity for 18-24 hours. You can achieve high humidity by wrapping you salami in cling film. This locks in the moisture. A good place to ferment is in your oven with the light on but the oven off. (EVERY STARTER CULTURE IS DIFFERENT. THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE FOR THE FLAVOR OF ITALY STARTER CULTURE). The goal of fermentation is to reach a pH between 5.2 and 4.9.
- Once you have reached the target pH you can transfer your salami to the drying chamber.
- The drying conditions should be set to 55F and 80% humidity. Leave it in here till you lose 30% – 40% moisture loss. The more moisture that is lost the harder your salami will be. I personally like 35% – 40% weight loss.
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