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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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35 thoughts on “T-SPX Salami Starter Culture”

    1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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?

  2. 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. 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!

  3. 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. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

  5. I was making Lanjagers and accidentally used the whole SPX culture pack in a 5lb batch. Should I just scrap it or is it safe to eat?

  6. Hi Eric
    a question re the Humidity during fermentation. In the Video, you advise on running at 80-90% RH. How critical is this? I have a biltong box I have made out of Wood with a light source at the bottom for heat and have the salamis hanging in it, with a tray of water over the light source. It is running around 19-23 degrees C with a RH around 70%ish (just using a basic Hygrometer- not sure of accuracy as Im waiting on my digital one to arrive). From my test sample the pH is at 5.3 at around the 26 hr mark so I expect we should be getting close at the 36hr mark. Is the Humidity going to be an issue? (it will go into a curing chamber that I can better manage RH and lower temps at.
    Also, I have Mold 600 to add to the surface, but not added as yet. I assume its ok to add this when I transfer to the curing chamber?

    Thanks in advance


    1. Humidity is super important during fermentation. It’s what helps feed the bacteria while they are making lactic acid. What I would do is place the salami in some cling film and wrap them tight. This will keep the humidity at 90%+. Then place the wrapped salami in your biltong box. You should be good to go.. Correct. You can add Mold 600 at any point during the drying stage (or pre fermenting). It’s better to do it sooner than later to keep that bad molds away..

  7. Hello,
    I am making salami with T-SPX culture. The recipe calls out for the dextrose for fermentation and table sugar (sucrose) to make color and taste.
    My question is can I replace table sugar (sucrose) with the same amount of lactose found in non-fat powder milk. Thank you

  8. Hey Eric
    I just finished binge watching a good portion of your videos and now am going to attempt my first salami. I was hoping you could clear a couple things up for me.
    I was planning to use 28-30mm hog casings because I have quite a bit of it on hand. All the recipes I look at call for cure#2 but are for larger diameter salamis. I thought i remembered in one of your videos you mentioned something about not using cure with nitrate in it unless the curing time is going to be at least a month to give it time to break down. Would you still recommend cure 2 for a smaller diameter salami that will possibly be done in 2-3 weeks?

    Also, I am going to attempt to make this first salami without a PH meter. How much time would you recommend fermenting the sausage at 68f (my room temp) with the T-SPX culture?


    1. I would use cure #1 for 32mm or smaller casings. I would recommend fermenting for at least 60 hours possibly 72 hours with tspx starter culture. The end result will be a firmer piece of meat with a reddish color and a pleasant, fermented smell.

  9. Eric,

    I have considered doing fermented sausages for a long time, even bought and have read the Marianski books but only now taken the financial plunge. PH meter, temp and humidity controls, humidifier, refrigerator, etc. Your videos and articles helped push me to take the plunge so when my SWAMBO complains about the expense I will direct her your way ;-))

    Thank you for sharing your passion for good food.

  10. Eric just wondering what the difference is between T-SPX and Taste of Italy starter cultures? Can either one be used in any recipe? Your Italian Genoa Salami recipe calls for Taste of Italy but I have T-SPX am I good to use the T-SPX

  11. Hi Eric,after mixing meat ,spices and T-SPX culture and stuffing is ok to put salami to refrigerator or i have to fermenting right away?

  12. Ralph Bartolotta

    Just viewed your video on cultures, Great! I have been using T-SPX for a few years. I prepare a Traditional Pepperoni recipe as offered by Stanley Marianski in The Art of Making Sausage. It calls for T-SPX at a rate of 1/2 teaspoon per 10 kg mince. Suggested fermentation is 72 hours at 68 F. The mince normally starts at a ph of 5.6-5.7. Over 72 hours it drops to about 4.6. Your video indicated that the culture is intolerant to a ph level under 5. Wonder if I should be altering my method and shorten the fermentation period to about 36 hours which would bring the ph to just above 5. I would then lower the temp to 56F and begin the drying process. Wondering if my present method is curtailing the flavor enhancing quality of the Staphylococcus.

    1. This is a tricky question as TSPX isn’t really the right culture for pepperoni. LHP-Dry, FRM 52, FLC, would all work. The idea is rapid acidification for pepperoni. That is if you want it to have a slight tangy flavor. If not you can continue using tspx and just stop the fermentation at 5.0. Wouldn’t have the same flavor as pepperoni but would still be dleicious,

      1. Ralph Bartolotta

        Thanks for your response. Although the recipe is called Traditional Pepperoni it is more of a Southern European type of sausages. Similar in flavor profile to a sopressata or Sicilian salami.
        The fermentation period is followed by a drying period of about 6 weeks or a 50% reduction. I just started a new batch (used T-spx) and will stop the fermentation at just over a ph. of 5.0. I will be able to compare with a batch that fermented to 4.65.

  13. Eric – I’ve been making salami for about 5 years and recently decided to get the Hanna pH meter with meat probe. I’ve always worked with T-SPX and have always been neurotic about maintaining proper temp and humidity during fermentation. On two recent batches I’ve made, I used the Hanna pH meter and got a reading of around 4.3 (on both batches) from sticking the probe directly into the “salami ball” I set aside during fermentation. Very confused by these numbers, I calibrated the probe after the first batch, and still got a reading of 4.3 on the second batch (as of this reading, it’s only been 18 hours of fermentation). Any ideas on this? I’m not sure if something is going on with my fermentation or if it’s the probe.

  14. So I just tried to make my first Salami – and I figured to play it safe, I would just find a simple recipe and follow it.

    I was only making 10lbs, but the recipe called for 10 grams of FRM-52 or T-SPX

    I used 10 grams of T-SPX, but after seeing this and doing a little more research, I think that is over 10x what is needed.

    The PH didn’t move much the first day (was around 5.7), but I checked it after 48 hours and it was 4.9 – So I lowered my chamber temp and the humidity (now 78-85%).

    Can any harm or problems come from using that much T-SPX? It otherwise seems to be working?????

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