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What Is... Salami?

Salami is…

A cured sausage made from fermented and/or air-dried meat. Traditionally Salami was made from pork although nowadays, it is made with all manner of meat or game – beef, lamb, duck, venison, even horse or donkey – or a mixture of any of the above.

What then is a Cured Sausage….

I’ve already explained the difference between Charcuterie and Cured Meat. When it comes to curing a sausage, it means using a salt-based concoction that also probably includes sugar and nitrites/nitrates. The latter are used to preserve not just the meat itself, but also its colour and flavour.

How do you make Salami….

Using various cuts of meat (depending on the style of salami and its recipe), you mix together the “right” proportions of lean and fat, add the cure, then the flavourings – anything from herbs to garlic, nuts etc – chop the meats, stuff them into an elongated casing made from cleaned animal intestines and leave it to ferment and dry for days, months, or even years.

What about Fermentation….

To explain at its simplest, fermentation allows beneficial or benign organisms such as lactic acid, bacteria, yeasts and moulds to develop and so contribute to a product’s texture, flavour and safety. These organisms are either introduced through the environment or through the use of cultures.

For a fuller scientific explanation, read Fermented Meat Products via ScienceDirect.

Where does Salami come from….

It’s thought to originate in Italy from as far back as Roman times. The word salami comes from the Latin for salt – sale or to salt – salare. Most Southern, Eastern, and Central European countries boast of salami-making traditions that date back several centuries. They, no doubt, dispute the Italians’ claim.

How many different Salamis are there….

Far too numerous to count. Italy alone brags of well over 150 different types. Aside from Italy, the main salami-producing countries are France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, and Spain. As far as I know, no one has even attempted to count their different types.

Recipe Suggestion

For a simple Canape, try Garlic Salami, Jerusalem Artichoke & Hazelnut Cups by Kuba Winkowski.

Did You Know?

  • The Romanian, Bulgarian, and Turkish word for Salami is salam; in Hungarian, it is szalámi; in Czech – salám while the Polish, French, German, and Dutch all call it salami.
  • Westphalia, a northwestern region in Germany, is famous for its smoked salami made with Camembert cheese culture.

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