A unifying theme of all salami-making guides is, “you need to be meticulous, you need to pay attention.” Well, that’s just not me. I have zero interest in building a drying chamber from an old wine fridge. I finally broke down and bought a rack for my milk crate basket after I had done a million bike rides carrying groceries in my backpack. I won’t get the gear until I’ve earned it.
Making salami was similar to making any sausages– I flavored the meat with spices (fennel seed, black pepper, etc.), ground it up, and stuffed it into casings. Except this time sodium nitrite and nitrate were added along with a bacterial culture. I didn’t feel like ordering a bacterial culture, so I took an idea from Peter from Cookblog and added a few tablespoons of brine from my lactofermented sauerkraut.
Then I hung my sausages to dry. From the ceiling fan, no less. I scoffed at the special mold culture you can spray on your aging sausages and felt quite smug when powdery white mold appeared– “baller” mold if you will. “People pay for this mold!” I thought, “but I’m such a great salumier already that it’s just appearing out of thin air!” Then I ignored my salamis for a few days.
The next time I looked at them, the dreaded blue mold had appeared. I had to give my salamis a good scrubbing with white vinegar, but it was a little late. The mold had penetrated two of them. It wasn’t deadly (this time), but I highly recommend against eating messed-up salami. It tasted most unpleasant. Still, two of the salamis turned out quite good.
So things didn’t go exactly as planned. Here are some pro tips I didn’t read in any of the books:
- Hang your salamis so there is plenty of air circulation around them. Don’t let the salamis touch each other even if it makes hanging more convenient. The evaporating moisture seems to encourage blue mold growth.
- Yes, your salami is safe to eat after it’s lost 30% of its starting weight, but the texture improves after its lost 40%. My salami still had an unappealingly soft texture at 30%.
- Freeze all the meat grinder parts and stainless steel bowl for containing the meat. You can also place the meat itself in the freezer for about 30 minutes. It’s always important to keep everything cold during sausage making, but it’s doubly important for salami. It’s the only way to achieve those lovely chunks of white fat that dot a good salami.
Now I have great respect for legit salami-makers. I’ll need to step up my detail-oriented game for homemade salami to be worthwhile.