Are you ready for one of the most popular salami in America. The Genoa Salami. This salami is incredible. Delicately seasoned, fermented, and dried to form a charcuterie that is a work of art.
The process of making Salami is straight forward. It’s a series of processes that generally don’t change. If you follow my v-blog (video blog) you’ll see this process repeat itself in almost every salami. Here is the process:
- Chill and grind your meat (keep below 35F)
- prepare seasonings, mold, and starter cultures
- mix the meat with the seasonings and the starter culture
- stuff into a natural or synthetic casing
- ferment till the pH reaches it’s target
- dry in a controlled area till you lose 40% moisture
I know it can seem overwhelming to think about cultures, raw pork, fermenting meat, curing salts, bacteria, and all that other stuff that keeps us up at night, but trust me when I tell you that I am here to help. We are going to take each step and break it down into easy to understand bite size pieces. I’m going to demystify this process for you and after it’s all said and done you’ll be on your way to making your very own salami masterpiece!!
As a bonus in every one of my post I also add a video tutorial so you can see it in action for yourself. Personally this is how I learn the best so I thought it would be cool to have it both ways. If you still have any questions there’s a comment box at the bottom and you get to ask me anything you want.
Don’t forget to check out the printable recipe at the very bottom of this post. I added a cool option so that you can adjust the quantity of how much you might want to make.
So lets talk about the meat. In this recipe I use lean pork and lean beef. I do that so I can control the fat content better. A good piece of lean pork is the ham, the picnic, the loin, or whatever you might have on sale. You can use the shoulder but that’s going to change the fat ratio as the shoulder (Boston Butt) has about a 30% fat content in it already, the belly (where bacon comes from) has roughly 50% fat in it. So for now let’s just stick to lean pork. The same goes for lean beef. If you get a roast just be sure to trim off as much fat as you can. I like to use eye of round (generally because it’s on sale!). Finally we can talk about fat. The best type of fat to use for salami is back fat. This is the fat that can be found on the…. back.. It’s a hard fat with a higher melting point that leaf fat (lard). If you have a butcher in your town (and I’m almost positive that you do) I think it’s about time that you walk into their shop and introduce yourself. You guys are about to become very good friends!!
Once you have the meat and the fat weighed out all you have to do is dice it into small chucks. This makes it easier to grind and places less wear and tear on your machine (did I mention that you might want to buy a grinder if you want to start making salami?). Don’t grind the meat and the fat just yet because the heat generated from your grinder will cause the fat to smear. This is a bad thing. You want the fat and the meat as cold as possible (partially frozen) to keep the integrity of your salami in tact. In addition to chilling you meat chill your equipment as well. Once your meat and fat is around 33-35F you can grind (see recipe below). As soon as it’s ground stick it back in the freezer and move on to the next step. So far so good?
This step is straight forward. Prepare the seasonings. I do want to add that if you plan on applying a layer of mold (penicillium nalgiovense), and I highly suggest that you do. You’ll want to prepare that the night before so it can rehydrate and wake up. Other than that you can proceed to get your seasonings put together. I like to weigh the seasonings and add them to a larger bowl or cup. It all gets added at the same time anyway. After you prepare your seasonings you can get your starter culture ready. Just add the culture to some distilled water and let it rehydrate for 30 minutes. This gives the bacteria time to wake up as well. Your starter culture and mold spores should be stored in the freezer at all times until you are ready to use them. After you finish place them back in the freezer. While you are at it you might as well get your salami casings rehydrated as well. To do this just place your casings in some luke warm water for 15-20 minutes.
Now that all that is finished, it’s time to mix your meat with your seasonings. This part can be tricky and a bit laborious if you do it by hand. If you happen to have a kitchen aid stand mixer and it’s big enough you can usually fit 4-5 pounds in it. With a paddle attachment you’ll want to begin mixing your chilled meat on low and slowly start to incorporate the seasonings and the starter culture. Gently start to increase the speed to about a medium and mix till the entire meat mass gets incredibly sticky and tacky. Sometimes this takes 7-8 minutes and most certainly longer if you do it by hand. This is one of the most critical steps in forming proper texture of your salami so be sure to mix it well. Once your mince is well mixed, it’s time to stuff it into your casings. At this point you are almost finished!!
Stuffing the meat into your casings is another critical step. All of your hard work can be undone here if you try to shortcut this step. A sausage stuffer is highly recommended as this stuffs your salami meat with little to no friction. Using a kitchen aid to stuff your salami isn’t necessarily recommended as it takes too long and generates too much heat. There are some small well built stuffers that will get you going without costing you an arm and a leg. To stuff your salami mince into the casing you’ll want to stuff the hopper full of the mince ensuring that with each addition you don’t create any air pockets. One cool trick is to ball the meat up like a softball and throw it in the hopper with force. This presses all the air out!! Once your hopper is full place the appropriate tube on the end, add the hydrated casing, and begin stuffing. Nice and easy is the name of the game as you want the meat to really be in there tight. Don’t worry, your synthetic casing will handle the force. If you are using natural casings you’ll have to be more delicate. Tie the end off once it’s full and continue till you are finished. Be sure to save a little mince meat for later (you don’t need more than 1/4 – 1/2 cup). We will be using this “sample” to test the ph of our salami.
Now that your salami is stuffed you can take your sausage pricker and prick that salami all over. You want to pay special attention to areas that look like they might have air pockets. Once it’s pricked brush the entire salami with your mold solution. Finally you will want to weigh your salami. This is called your green weight. Record that weight. Once your salami has lost 38-40% of its weight it’s finished and ready to eat. Technically you can eat it at 30% but I don’t recommend that because it’s WAYYYY to soft, but don’t let me stop you, eat away if you want to try..
OK. The hard work is behind you and now we are going to let nature take over. Take your salami and place it in an area that is between 75F and 85F and 90% humidity. This can be an ice chest with a tray of hot water, a stove with the light on and a tray of water in it, a dedicated fermentation chamber like I have, or heck if your garage is warm enough you can hang it there or in your office. See it doesn’t matter where you hang your salami as long as it’s between 75F-85F and high humidity. I like this gadget from ThermoWorks as its a cheap way to monitor the area I’m fermenting in. Once you hang it, take a selfie, post it on twitter (be sure to give me a shout out), and walk away. Let the fermentation begin. This starter culture that I recommend in the recipe is very fast, delivers consistent results, and tastes amazing. So I figured for someone getting started this would be a no brainer. In 12-24 hours you salami will be ready to begin the drying phase. What you are looking for is a radical change in color, aroma, and texture. It will feel much firmer than when you started. It will smell like amazingness and you’ll want to taste it but resist the urge… I like to check the pH at around the 12 or 15 hour mark. Oh yeah I forgot to mention that you’ll probably want to invest in a pH meter if you want to start making salami.. Hey don’t blame me, I’m just the messenger!! Besides you’ll be glad that you did. You can sleep well at night knowing that you have a scientifically tested product that will be totally safe to eat. When you test your pH anything below 5.3 is in the safe zone. What you will be targeting is 4.9-5.2. Once you hit that or lower you can transfer your fermented salami into it’s drying state. This will stop the fermentation cycle and start the drying cycle.
The drying chamber is generally a old fridge that is controlled by a temperature probe and a humidity probe. These controllers regulate the inside conditions of your fridge to the perfect 55F and 80% humidity. Place your salami in this environment for 6-8 weeks (depending on the size of your salami). During this time white mold will begin to grow on the outside of your salami. This is the mold that you applied earlier. If you get blue, red, black, green, yellow, or any weird fuzzy looking stuff with hair and arms on it then be sure to wipe down the infected spots with some vinegar. Check your salami periodically to see how it’s drying (as if I had to remind you) and once you hit the target weight loss (I like a more firm salami so I shoot for 38-40%) take the salami out, remove the casing and slice thinly. If you want to store your salami for longer, wash the ourside of the salami with white wine or vinegar to kill off any mold and then place it in a vacuum sealed bag. Refrigerate for up to 6 months or freeze. Enjoy!!.
Here are a few things I find useful when making salami
- Flavor of Italy
- Apera pH Meter with Bluetooth
- Cure #2
- Meat Grinder
- InkBird Controllers temp & Humidity
- Dehumidifier Eva Dry 2200
- TaoTronics Humidifier
If you want to see the different things that we use in operation our be sure to check out our new Amazon Store.