Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Mold & Wise

For those of you who may not know, the salami we have chosen to use on our wine bar charcuterie plate and sell in our retail case is one of the best available on the market. Fra Mani means “made by hand” and it is made by renowned chef Paul Bertoli.

We have had a couple of people take home these delicious products and then express concern because they unwrapped their purchase and it was covered in white mold…..not realizing that this mold is actually a part of the curing/aging process, being beneficial to the salumi.

“Bertolli produces his salami by first carefully grinding the pork. He then adds simple spices and seasonings, such as sea salt, black pepper, garlic, and red wine. Next, Bertolli packs the meat mixture as tightly as possible into all-natural hog casings—fastidiously washed portions of pig intestine that often have to be imported from Italy. Finally, Bertolli ties off each salami with natural twine and begins the months-long process of mold ripening (fermenting) and drying.”

Bertolli cures his salami naturally without adding nitrites.

Salami are cured in warm, humid conditions in order to encourage growth of the bacteria involved in the fermentation process. Sugar is added as a food source for the bacteria during the curing process. Lactic acid is produced by the bacteria as a waste product, lowering the pH and coagulating and drying the meat. The acid produced by the bacteria makes the meat an inhospitable environment for other, dangerous bacteria and imparts the tangy flavor that separates salami from machine-dried pork. The flavor of a salami relies just as much on how this bacteria is cultivated as it does on quality and variety of other ingredients. Originally, the bacteria were introduced into the meat mixture with wine, which contains other types of beneficial bacteria..

The curing process is determined by the climate of the curing environment and the size and style of casing. After fermentation, the sausage has to be dried. This changes the casings from being water-permeable to being reasonably airtight. A white covering of either mold or flour helps prevent the photo-oxidation of the meat and rancidity in the fat.

When you are ready to eat...brush off the mold, let it sit at room temp for about 30 minutes, slice and enjoy. Buonissimo!