Table of Contents
Salami is something that is ‘cured’ but how long it lasts does vary quite a bit, I’m going to go over all I have discovered about this ancient craft over the years.
Delving into the world of cured meats, it would be realistic to imagine that these items tend to last longer than their fresh counterparts, especially how long salami lasts.
They are, after all, created in such a way that gives them a longer shelf life and therefore a longer lifetime when placed within your own pantry. However, all good things must come to an end.
The longevity is due to salt and acidity mainly.
How long does a cut or whole salami last? For the whole dry-cured salami, possibilities are nearly endless when refrigerated, it will become harder and drier. According to the USDA, it can last about six weeks when unrefrigerated. However, cut salami lasts about three weeks in the refrigerator.
As it seems, cut and whole salami are backed with different standards when it comes to their longevity. Although both offer a wide range of flavors, different amounts of accessibility when in a rush to get appetizers on the table.
For those everyday grocery shoppers, cut and whole salami must be understood a bit differently before buying. Read below to understand why exactly this is and how you can navigate this wonderful entity of cured meats.
There is also dry-cured salami vs. cooked/smoked salami – generally speaking.
Salami & How Long It Lasts
Oxygen is a blessing and a curse when it comes to food. Of course, as humans and all other living organisms, we need this gas to survive, but it has a very different effect when it comes to fresh and even cured meats.
Salami is no exception to the effects of exposure to oxygen in the realm of cured meats- especially cut salami. Oxygen can wiggle itself into this fantastically salty treat and contort its composition into something discolored and more easily soiled. For the whole salami, it is drying out for cut salami, it starts to spoil it much quicker.
When picking up your sliced salami, you want it to have that nice pink coloration to it – a sign of healthy meat, good Artisan slow-fermented salami might get a bit darker as it dries a little.
However, many times, you can find sliced salami that has a more grey or brown color to it making customers leary of tossing the product into their cart.
This discoloration is caused by the combination of residual O2 within the package and the penetration of light from display cabinet cases.
For most commercially made vs. craft Artisan-style (or homemade)
There may be residual oxygen that occurs at the packaging when air is pushed into the packaging despite efforts to maintain air tightness.
This can be caused by machinery as well as the packing to keep O2 from penetrating the product once packaged.
Lighting also plays a role in sliced salami’s longevity. When sliced salami is exposed to light over time, photooxidation occurs and takes away the typically pinkish-red hue of salami and turns into something duller and less visually appealing.
You will find this with all kinds of fresh meat that has been sitting under certain lighting in a display cabinet.
Ways to Avoid Salami Exposure to Oxygen
Although not so applicable with whole salami because its structure is not changed by cutting, there are a few options to help reduce cut salami exposure to oxygen to create a longer shelf life while also making sure the product stays fresh.
A few of the top ways to avoid salami exposure to oxygen is by removing sliced salami from direct overhead light exposure.
Salami not under that bright white light might hold up better, refrigerated display case without lighting, and moving the salami to a dark location.
Instead of the usual vacuum-sealed packaging or airtight sealing processes, N2 packaging has presented a new way of packaging items that helps to extend the shelf life of various food products while also maintaining the utmost freshness.
N2 packaging is a system that uses hermetic sealing, which is a process that replaces air and moisture with nitrogen to keep oxidation processes from affecting, in this case, the cured meat.
Oxygen is tough to work with for many foods because it naturally hosts the ability to break down foods, which can lead to spoilage. Nitrogen, however, can cover a large range of different foods and the various ways they spoil by replacing the breathable atmosphere that oxygen creates and replacing it with one that does not allow rapid bacterial growth.
If the sliced salami is in need of refrigeration, consider a display case without lighting for this product. If there is no need for refrigeration, it would be a quick fix to take the product and store it in an area that is darker and not under any direct light exposure.
Additionally, you can have your fridge run at 20-30% humidity to affect the oxygen exposure when your salami is refrigerated directly.
All over Europe, with more traditionally made products, they often have Salami I have seen just sitting in baskets on tables across supermarkets (especially in Italy of course).
Dry-cured salami vs. Hot Smoked (Cooked) salami
Salami can be dry-cured (a more traditional way of preserving with spices and a curation process that aids its longevity) or hot-smoked (cooked).
When cooked, a salami will be treated as other types of meat, as the curation process becomes less important.
Dry-cured salami (before being cut and exposed to oxygen) can last for some time, like months, until it gets so hard it’s not so nice to eat.
Artisan or Homemade Dry Cured Salami can be hung at a moderate temperature.
How to Tell if Salami Has Gone Bad
With cured meat like salami, it can be a bit trickier to decide whether or not you can gobble it up or if it needs to head to the trash. What are the dead giveaways that let you know it is time to grab another roll or slice from the deli department?
You can tell that salami has gone bad when it has gray edges, black fuzz, or other common signs of discoloration and change in appearance.
Additionally, spoiled salami will give off the smell of ammonia, rotten eggs, and other foul odors.
Spoiled salami can also have a strange texture, like excessive hardness or sliminess, depending on its preparation.
The white powdery mold on the outside should have an earthy mushroomy smell – this is actually penicillin!
With fresh (dried and cured) salami having a nice healthy reddish-pink color when sliced, one of the biggest signs that the product has gone bad is gray edges. If the edges have turned gray, go ahead and toss the product.
Black fuzz is also a sign of spoiling along with any other sort of obvious molds present on your product.
However, be mindful of any white molds that you see on salami. As it turns out, this sort of mold is naturally occurring and is not harmful if consumed. Still, if you see it encroaching on your snack, just swiftly remove it and continue enjoying.
If it looks fishy to you, trust your instincts and avoid taking chances of consuming a spoiled product by weighing your risk and reward.
Trusting your senses is key; we were given these instruments to detect foods that aren’t any good anymore!
Texture can also be a great indicator of spoiled salami. If it is slimy or has hardened beyond a normal range, it is best to leave it behind. Just as you would trust your gut, trust your nose to give you the green light when treating yourself to a salami snack.