Making salami can be done with many different types of meat and there are many variations across the world. Salami isn’t just Pepperoni and Genoa!
I have been fascinated with salami for a couple of decades and wanted to share what I have learned about commercial and homemade salami types.
Salami has to have a minimum amount of fat, commonly this is 20 to 30% and mostly like pork fat. The reason for this is that pork fat is a neutral flavor compared to many other animal fats.
So I’ll go through a breakdown, give some information about meat used in some of the popular salamis.
There are also a lot of questions asked on my blog eatcuredmeat.com – as well as googled which might sound a bit silly below. I will give them a good straightforward answer!
Meat Used to Make Salami
Most salamis across the world produced at home or commercially sold is made of pork meat and fat. Also, beef is used in many salami variations also.
Types of Meat Used in Salami
- Pork Meat
- Pork Fat
- Beef Meat
- Venison Meat
- Lamb Meat
- Fish Meat
This list above is not exhaustive, I also use a variety of wild red meat, which can be exchanged for pork or beef fat in most recipes.
If you want more information about the different types of salami, you are opening up a whole new world of craft and artisan styles! Because there are probably thousands of variations of salami across every culture in the world.
The most common type of salami is one that is fermented and then dried to achieve a percent weight loss, this is to slow the Water Activity (Aw) so unwanted bacteria can’t operate in the meat.
This is more the artisanal farmer’s markets or traditional type of dry-cured salami.
Although commercial shortcuts are made to avoid this with many supermarket salami varieties.
You either have the fermented/dried type or a cooked and hot smoked type where the internal meat is cooked to a certain temperature with smoke around it (like Low and Slow Smoking).
Lastly, there is an emulsified type that is also cooked and the meat textures is more uniform. Examples of this type of salami meat are baloney or mortadella.
All these types of salami still predominately are beef and pork meat.
First off a quick quote,
You see, what started as an Italian sausage tradition, is now a waxy disc in a plastic foil, put on pizzas and sandwiches. It’s still called salami, but the supermarket version is nowhere near what’s supposed to be.
Because I have made quite a lot of salami at home specifically the most traditional kind which is the dry-cured salami, which is often fermented. The salami should take one to two months or more to make.
I’ve also lived extensively in Europe and spent many months in countries like Italy, which have a rather strong culture around salami!
However most commercial and supermarket salamis you’ll find, are made in a matter of days outside countries like Italy.
The way they can achieve this is by using salt, and quite often acidic compounds to lower the pH level, therefore, increase the acidity. The unwanted bacteria does not like salty, acidic or traditionally cold smoked environments.
Regardless of the type of meat that’s used in the salami, these are the techniques to create the flavor and in the traditional sense the preservation that when done properly can last for many months hung in a temperate environment.
Check out the salami hanging in the Salmeria, Italy:
What Type of Pork is Used to Make Salami
Pork shoulder or pork butt meat is used for salami due to its higher fat content than other parts of the pig. Pork back fat is the other main type of meat that is used in salami.
Because the pork meat is cut or diced finally generally through a cutting disc on a meat grinder or mincer. Ideally, the sinew which is the tendons inside the meat needs to be removed for the dicing to be of a quality nature.
Many large commercial dicing and mincing machines are able to cut through the sinew and it just becomes incorporated in the commercially mass-produced salami.
What Type of Beef Meat is Used to Make Salami
The forequarter (front leg)or front shoulder or hind leg of the cow is used often for salami. Beef fat is not used because it has a stronger flavor than pork fat.
Meat in Popular Salami Types Genoa, Pepperoni & Milano
Mainly pork and pork fat I use for these popular types of salami that you’ll find in many Western supermarkets. I have noticed also beef as a additive meat type.
Here is a sample of a very popular salami and the list of ingredients in case you’ve never had a look:
Italian Salami (Salame) is Only One Type
We will often think of Italy when we talk about salami. But I have discovered nearly every European country has its variations in salami and that often pork is still the basis of the meat type used.
As you can imagine, in cultures where other types of meat are the main commodity, such as in Asia there is a lot of fish they make fish sausages!
Or goat salami!
However I haven’t come across fish salami yet!
Actually I have once, at a large market in Budapest, Hungary they had catfish salami, but I was very scared to try. I don’t think catfish has a flavor that I would want to accentuate! No judgment here though!
That’s why cultures traditional soak catfish in milk to remove a lot of the fish flavor.
Commonly Asked Questions About Salami
Now here are some common questions asked about the type of meat and ingredients inside salami.
What Part of the Cow is Salami?
Some salami has cow meat called beef in it. The main type of meat in most salami is pork meat and pork fat.
How is Meat Such as Salami Made?
Salami is made by mincing meat and fat, mixing it with salt and spices. Then stuffing it into a natural or synthetic casing. It is then either fermented and dried. Another salami type can be cooked and hot smoked until internal meat temperature has been reached.
What is the White Stuff Inside Salami?
The white powdery dust on the outside of salami is a type of penicillin (penicillium nalgiovense). It helps protect the salami from unwanted bacteria. It is related to the mold you find of soft cheeses like Brie or Camembert
What Animal is Pepperoni Made From?
Pepperoni is made from pig (pork) and sometimes also cow (beef).
What are the Black Seeds in Salami?
The black seeds on salami are not seeds, they are black ground peppercorns.
Thanks for dropping by, I’ve been passionate about meat curing for around 20 years now. Having been lucky enough to learn inside fine dining kitchens through to backyard smoking sessions. From doing courses, trial & error and reading extensively – finally, I thought it was time to share my passion online.
My insatiable appetite and passion toward classic Italian dry-cured salumi and all forms of curing and smoking are what drives this website engine. All the best, Tom