-->
Home > Charcuterie Corner > Genoa Salami
Dry-Cured Genoa Salami
The taste, sight, smell and touch of dry-cured sausage is influenced by the degree of bacterial fermentation as well as the biochemical and physical changes which occur during the extended drying (ripening) process. The actual number of days required to reach this stage of development will depend on a range of factors, including the  diameter and type of casing used,  coarseness or fineness of the grind and the temperature and humidity of the drying room. Under average circumstances, dry-cured sausage can be expected to mature within 30 to 90 days, during which time it will lose 30-35% of its green weight (green weight is the original weight of meat in it's raw state prior to the processing).

Even though, dry-cured sausage is raw, it is shelf stable and doesn’t require any refrigeration.  According to a recent USDA food safety fact sheet, an unopened (uncut) stick of hard dry sausage will keep up to six weeks in a pantry environment, or nigh on indefinitely when it’s stored in a refrigerator.

In Italy, salami is classified according to how it’s cured and the region it comes from. Famous for its lightly fermented flavor, Genoa salami, closely associated with the northern city of Genoa, is an uncooked, medium-textured sausage made with mostly pork and lightly flavored with garlic, white pepper, white peppercorns and in some cases red wine. The following recipe/formula is an American version of Salami, Genoa.

Genoa Salami
5 lbs pork butt (2.27 kg)
1/2 lb pork butt (227 g)
3 tbsp pickling salt (58.5 g)
1 1/4 tsp pink curing salt #1 (7.0 g)
1/2 tsp Bactoferm LHP (0.50 g)*
1/2 tsp cardamom (1.4 g)
1 tsp garlic powder (3.1 g)
1 1/2 tsp coriander, ground (2.55 g)
1 1/2 tsp white pepper (4.1 g)
1tbsp white peppercorns (22.2 g)
1 1/2 tbsp powdered dextrose (13 g)
90mm beef middles or 3 1/2” diameter protein-lined fibrous casings
25 lbs pork butt (11.4 kg)
2 1/2 lbs pork butt fat (1.13 kg)
1 cup pickling salt (293 g)
6 1/4 tsp pink curing salt #1 (35 g)
1 1/2 tsp Bactoferm LHP (0.50 g)*
2 1/2 tsp cardamom (7.0 g)
5 tsp garlic powder (15.5 g)
2 1/2 tbsp coriander, ground (12.8 g)
2 1/2 tbsp white pepper (20.3 g)
11/3 cup white peppercorns (111 g)
1/2 cup powdered dextrose (65.3 g)

(1) Cut pork and back fat into cubes small enough to fit into the throat of your grinder; place cubes on cookie sheets and freeze until partially frozen. (2) Grind the semi-frozen cubes one time through a 3/16” (5mm) grinder plate. (3) Mix ground meat and ingredients together in a nonreactive bowl or tub; knead well until the mixture is sticky and batter like. (4) Stuff the meat batter into beef bung or 3 1/2” protein-lined fibrous casings; sausage length is a personal choice. We make ours 18-20” (46-51 cm) long. (5) Optimum fermentation is 85°F (29°C) at 85-90% humidity for 24 hours. (6) Dry at 55-60°F (13-16°C) @ 80-85% relative humidity for 5-6 weeks or until it has lost 25-30% of its green weight. (7) Home-cured Genoa salami keeps well without refrigeration when the original casing is left intact and it’s stored at 55-59°F (10-15°C) @ 75% humidity.
   
*You have the option to follow  the culture manufacturers recommendations ss to the usage and optimum temperatures required for a successful fermentation. I highly recommend butcher-packer.com for your next dry-cure project.

Tying several loops of butcher twine in loops around the diameter (or girth) of the salami helps to support the product during the long drying cycle.


Salt Inhibits Spoilage 
Salt is a major player and an important part of the chemical reaction sausage makers refer to as “curing”. It’s principal function is to solubilize and extract the muscle proteins needed for binding the fat particles with the meat in order to create a stable emulsion. It’s also required for the dehydration of the encased sausage batter  throughout a lengthy dry curing process. Moreover, salt inhibits the growth of spoilage microorganisms while ensuring that the finished product maintains its textural integrity.

Although, it’s okay to adjust the salt level  as it pertains to fresh sausage, the amount of salt used in a dry sausage formula must be closely adhered to. Reducing it in order to limit your intake of sodium could prove disastrous.

According to the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, salt (sodium chloride; chemical formula: NaCl) is the "primary ingredient used in meat curing".[1] Salt works by dehydrating the meat, thus preventing the growth of bacteria, and it creates an inhospitable osmotic pressure through the cell wall of the bacterium.[1][2] This triggers the beneficial bacteria, including lactobacillus acidophilus, to grow in the new environment and lower the pH to approximately 4.5. Doing this requires a concentration of salt of nearly 20%.[2] In addition, salt causes the soluble meat proteins to come to the surface of the meat cut and then solidify, which is what gives sausage its characteristic skin.[3] Finally, salt slows the oxidation process, effectively preventing the meat from going rancid. 

Nitrite/Nitrate
Both nitrite and nitrate are used   to further inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms during the lengthy dry curing process. Formulas recommending the use of saltpeter as a curing agent are most likely outdated and should be avoided. Today’s curing agents are premixed and readily available to the home user, the most notable of which is Prague Powder #2. This popular dry curing mixture contains 1 oz. (28 g) of sodium nitrite and 0.64 oz. (19 ml) of sodium nitrate.  It works similar to a time release capsule, gradually breaking down into sodium nitrite, ensuring  a supply of nitrite in the later stages of maturation. Nitrite is also responsible for the products appealing red color. The manufacturer of this cure recommends using 1 ounce (28 g) of cure for 25 lbs. (11 kg) of meat or 1 level teaspoon (5 g) of cure for each 5 pounds (2.27 kg)of meat. It’s important not exceed the manufacturers recommended amount when using any type of curing agent.

Starter Cultures
Starter cultures (good bacteria) are widely used in the production of semi-dry and dry sausage. Triggered by the addition of dextrose in the sausage batter, cultures produce lactic acid while fermenting,  which in turn ensures that the necessary pH drop will be rapid enough to inhibit the growth of spoilage microorganisms. The amount of dextrose in a given sausage formula determines the pH level and ultimately the degree of fermentation.

Starter cultures are packaged in foil pouches (similar to yeast) and quick frozen until needed. They’re inexpensive to use and easily attainable through numerous online sausage and jerky supply stores.  Low temperature cultures grow best at 70-80°F (21-27°C) while  high temperature cultures grow best at 90-115°F (32-46°C). Usage depends on the style of sausage being made and the recipe/formula specifications. See more about starter cultures on pages 48-49. 

Casings
Dry sausage can be stuffed into a natural beef casing or a *protein-lined fibrous casing. Natural casings should be prepared the day before you make the sausage. Remove the casings from the package, rinse off the salt and soak them in lukewarm overnight. The benefits of soaking is twofold in that it helps to remove the salt residue and improve the stretchability of the casing wall. My preference for dry cured sausage is a  string-effect, protein-lined casing that shrinks with the meat as it dries, producing an end product with the look and feel of an authentic dry cured sausage. These casings  are easy to use, easy to store and all that they require in the way of preparation is a quick 20 to 30 minute soak in warm water prior to using.