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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