A selection of homemade salami, showcased crosssectionally, highlighting their rich textures and colors.

Different Salami Types – Cooked and Uncooked

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Writer / Enthusiast / Meat Curer / Forager / Harvester | About Tom

For decades, immersed in studying, working, learning, and teaching in the craft of meat curing, now sharing his passion with you through eat cured meat online resource.

Salami comes in many more forms and styles than people think. It’s definitely not only put into one category. This article will explain all the different types and clarify them in detail.

Uncooked salami is cured, sometimes fermented, and dried. Depending on the process, this cured style may also be cold-smoked. Cooked salami is heated to an internal safe-for-eating temperature through hot smoking, steaming, or baking.

Here’s a table to clarify all the different types of salami:

TypeDescriptionVolumeLength of Time to Produce
Uncooked Dry CuredSalt-cured, fermented, and driedlow3-20 weeks
Uncooked Dry Cured FermentedSalt-cured, fermented rapid acidificationlow3-20 weeks
Uncooked Salt Cured Fermented Rapid AcidifyingSalt cured, fermented rapid acidificationhigh3-7 days
Cooked Salt Seasoned Hot SmokedSalt seasoned, cooked, hot smoked to a safe internal eating temperaturelow/high3-24 hours
Cooked Salt SeasonedSalt seasoned, cooked to a safe temperaturelow/high3-24 hours

Salami Cooked and Uncooked

A selection of thinly sliced artisan salami arranged next to a whole artisan salami, with green and yellow olives and parsley garnish on a marble surface.
Uncooked, Dry Cured Salami (very fatty)
Sliced hot smoked salami on a board. Showing the fat and the meat separately inside the casing.

It’s not that straightforward, but I will explain the topic below.

Introduction to Salami Varieties

If you live in the Western world, you are accustomed to the classic “hard” type of salami that you’ll find in the supermarket. When squeezed, it has a firmness that cooked salami does not have; rapidly acidified salami also has a softness.

This is often a salami that is first salt-cured, with a higher temperature and moist fermentation stage.

Then, there is a drying stage, where a certain amount of weight loss occurs.

Other names for the salami genoa, pepperoni, or picante styles.

The least costly type of salami I can buy at a supermarket often has a soft texture, almost like a smoked ham in the delicatessen section. This is due to that rapid acidification mentioned above in the table.

Hard salami gets hard because it has lost weight during drying after being cured and often fermented. A salt curing and drying process.

Understanding Uncooked Salami

This style of salami is uncooked because it has been made safe using salt to slow the water activity, making it hard for unwanted bacteria to survive.

Not always, but often, it is fermented between the curing and drying stages to lower the pH, in other words, to increase acidity, which unwanted bacteria also do not like.

It is uncooked because it is dried and fermented to the point where it is preserved. “Ripening” is another term used for the drying process.

Curing meat  (cured sausages is another way of saying salami) involves adding salt, although sometimes this is confused with nitrates or nitrates added as one of the ingredients. Since this additive contains approximately 90% salt and 10% sodium nitrate and nitrite, depending on whether it is under 30 days or over 30 days, a version known as number one and number two pink curing salt these have many other names (instacure, prague powder etc.).

Overview of Cooked Salami

These are often hot-smoked salamis, seen in many parts of Eastern Europe, such as Kielbasa or Kohlbasa (hundreds of variations). Less is used because you don’t need as much as when you are making the dry-cured all-fermented salami, as mentioned above.

This style of salami is often cooked at a much lower temperature than you would of the meat since it can keep the fat from melting or rendering. At the same time, the internal temperature of the meat still gets to the minimum safe cooked temperature.

Salami Curing Techniques

Salt Curing

As mentioned above, salt is the main form of curing the meat.

Mold Growth Externally

Assorted cured sausages displayed on a wooden cutting board, showcasing a variety of textures and spices, ground with a precision mincer.
External Mold Growth on Salami I Made

External fermentation can be included in the curing process. Certain types of starter cultures assist in creating a breathable mold that helps regulate the drying of the salami externally.

I have used these types mold cultures one of them is the mold 600 a common commercial mold for uniform beneficial bacteria externally.

Fermentation Internally

A person using a digital food thermometer to check the temperature of meat in a kitchen setting.
Adding mold culture to salami involves (ideally) testing the meat for the fermentation to reach 5.3 pH or lower if desired.

I have used many different types of starter cultures for flavoring and pacification. In a broad sense, you can put these into two categories: fast or slow fermentation.

You may be familiar with salami’s sour or tangy flavor, which is produced through a fast fermentation process. Slow-fermented salami often only has a very subtle tangy sour taste due to internal acidity changes.

Exploring Dry Curing Methods

Not all salami are dry-cured. As seen in the table above, rapid acidification is used to quickly make the meat ham salami style a fast manufacturing process.

As opposed to the multiple months it takes to create traditional artisanal styles.

Fermentation in Artisanal Salami Production

After the salt, spices, and possible nitrates are added. The starter cultures are sprinkled into a small amount of clean filtered water and allowed to be slightly blue.

Starter cultures are added and mixed into the meat mixture.

Depending on the culture, the temperature and humidity often vary, but they are often around 85% humidity and 60 to 70°F or 15 to 20°C.

This process takes 24 to 72 hours, depending on the starter culture. The pH should drop to a minimum of 5.3 to be considered a safe level of acidity. Then, we move on to the drying stage with slightly lower humidity and temperature.

The balance comes from trying to dry out the meat evenly and not having the outside dry faster than the inside. This is one of the great challenges of making traditional salami, I have found.

Rapid Acidification Process

A closeup photo of an ingredients label highlighting a porkbased product and additional ingredients such as salt, acidity regulators, spices, color from beetroot red, dextrose, antioxidant, and natural wood

This process can often be completed within 3 to 4 days, and one way I can tell whether the salami has been produced in this manner is by squeezing it; it will be soft.

Cooking and Smoking Salami

  • Hot Smoking Salami
  • Cold Smoking Salami

Some salami you buy might be steamed or cooked to an internal temperature; this obviously means it’s not preserved and does not have a shelf life like the traditional dry-cured salami that is hard and has lost moisture to maintain it.

Not all dry-cured meat is cold-smoked; this is only true for some recipes. Often, in central Europe, Germany has a strong culture of beach-smoked salami.


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