T-SPX Salami Starter Culture

Welcome to the Salami Starter Culture Series. Today we are talking about the culture T-SPX. This starter culture is used in fermented sausages to acidify the salami and enhance it’s aroma, color, flavor, and texture. T-SPX is considered slow fermenting culture and the combination of bacteria used in this starter culture will produce a mild Southern European or Mediterranean style of salami. T-SPX is used in the production of salami that generally take 6-8 weeks to make (depending on the size of the casing).

Bacteria play a critical role in salami making as the entire biological process helps create a safe product to eat. This happens through the process of acidification. Bacteria like to eat sugar and as they eat sugar they release lactic acid. This is the same process that happens when making pickles and sauerkraut. The more lactic acid that’s produced the more acidic your salami becomes as the pH of your salami slowly drops. It’s this drop in pH that is considered one of the safety hurdles. We will chat more about that later but we are looking to drop below 5.3 pH. This creates an environment that is inhospitable for unwanted bacteria.

Like all the other salami starter cultures, T-SPX has unique bacteria that serve very specific functions. In this culture you will find two strains. Pediococcus Pentosaceus and Staphylococcus Xylosus. The pediococcus strain is responsible for lactic acid production while the staphylococcus strain is responsible for aroma, color, and flavor development. This is all happening on a microbiological level during the fermentation stage. Amino acids and fatty acids are being broken down, a reduction of nitrates and nitrites are happening, and all of this this is transforming your ground meat into a beautiful work of salami art. It is important to know that staphylococcus strains are pH sensitive and below a pH of 5.0 they become ineffective. So when you are using T-SPX your target pH range is 5.0 – 5.29. Use a reliable and well built pH meter to test your salami. Over my entire career I can tell you that if you go cheap you’ll end up regretting it. There are some pH meters that can run you $600. I’ve found a mid range tester that is built to last and is my absolute favorite. It’s called Apera PH60S-Z smart spear pH tester. If you are serious about getting into salami, cheese, or wine making this is something that you really want to look into.

Food is a quintessential element in the fermentation process. These little guys love sugar. In the world of sugar we can categorize them into 3 groups. Monosaccharides, disaccharides, and polysaccharides (for the sake of this article we will not talk about polysaccharides as T-SPX can not process this type of sugar). Monosaccharides are simple sugars. These sugars include glucose (aka dextrose), fructose, and galactose. Disaccharides (or double sugars) are formed when you have 2 monosaccharides joined together. The most common examples in this group are sucrose (table sugar), maltose (malt sugar), and lactose (milk sugars).

This starter culture can process all types of sugar so consider that when creating your recipe. Be aware that T-SPX will process monosaccharides faster than disaccharides so you can use dextrose to ferment your salami while adding table sugar to sweeten it (if you want).

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13 thoughts on “T-SPX Salami Starter Culture

  1. Ben
    Ben

    Eric, I left the sugar out of my salami like an idiot. Remembered the culture though. How much of an issue is this?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Oh NO!!! That might be a problem. At this point you won’t be able to do much about it. If you have a way to test the ph what is the ph as of right now… (presumably 36 hours later). If you catch it quick enough you can take the meat out of the casing, add the sugar, then recase, but I think it might be too late for that.

      1. Ben
        Ben

        Yeah I think it’s too late, but I think wine may have saved me… the PH was hovering between 5.1 and 5.2, so hopefully a mixture of carbohydrates in the polenta (it’s a pitina) and wine has do e the trick. I will leave it until this evening to double check, but looking ok… surprisingly.

        1. Eric
          Eric

          Oh that’s perfect!!! You are correct. The corn meal and mostly the wine provided just enough fermentable sugar to lower the pH. I love it when a story has a happy ending😁

          1. Ben
            Ben

            Thanks for your help as always Eric. All seem ok.

  2. Avril
    Avril

    I have just cured my first batch of Nduja after fermenting for 12hrs and curing for 31 days at 12 d 70-80%Rh. I used bactoferm Tspx and Prague #2 . After fermentation for 12 hrs at 23-25 d my Nduja tested 4.6 on the meter.
    Now 31 days later and after losing almost 30% on each small sausage it still reads at 4.6 ph . It doesn’t smell bad and had an ok colour besides some areas of grey meat on the outer part of the meat – I think where I had pricked the casing after stuffing. Does this sound safe to eat ???

    Thanks in Advance.
    Avril

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Hello Avril. A couple questions. Did the calabrian pepper paste you used have vinegar in it? The reason I ask is because TSPX is a very slow fermenting starter culture. It would take at least 48 hours to drop the ph that low.. Either way, if the ph reads 4.6 and your meter is accurate then it’s ok to eat. How thick are the casings that this nduja is in?

  3. Aaron Boria
    Aaron Boria

    Eric, we were making duck sausage last night. We mixed up the bacteria with mold 600. We ended up putting mold 600 inside the grind and never added the bacteria. Do you think it could still work? Would it be worth adding the bacteria in at this point? Is it trash?

    1. Eric
      Eric

      Oh no. I just got your message. Curious as to what would happened… The easy answer is that your salami wouldn’t ferment properly. In theory you could have let it ferment naturally at a lower temp for several more days to let the natural bacteria begin to grow. I don’t suppose you checked th eph before and after to see what you ended up as. As long as you were below 5.3 you should be good to go!

  4. Alden
    Alden

    Hi Eric, how many grams of T-SPX and how much water would be used per pound of meat? I think I calculated it to be 1/16 of a gram to a pound but I wanted to double check with an expert. Also, I am not sure how much water to add.

    1. Eric
      Eric

      I wouldn’t weigh out the culture. I would simply use spoons with the minimum being 1/4 tsp. This ensures that you get enough culture in your salami for proper fermentation.

  5. Ben
    Ben

    I am fermenting Salami using t-spx 69F at 82 % H, it has been 7 days and still getting a reading of 5.8 for my ph. Should I keep testing in hopes it will drop in the coming days.
    Thanks

    1. Eric
      Eric

      TSPX takes 48-72 hours. If at 7 days you ph hasn’t dropped there’s a problem. Fresh meat has a ph of 5.6-5.9. What ph meter are you using?

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