Table of Contents
Some salami must be kept in the refrigerator, and some do not. I have made salami for a few decades, and people often ask this question when they want to take salami on a trip or holiday.
Even though there are thousands of variations of salamis, most of the ones I make don’t need refrigeration because they are dry-cured types.
I’ll elaborate on dry-cured salami below to better understand what to look out for.
First, a quick summary, and then I will be more descriptive.
Dry Cured Salami does not need to be refrigerated. Examples of Dry Cured Salamis are Genoa, Sopressata, Felino, Napoli, and Finocchiona. These have been dried to the point of preservation.
Types of Salamis & Why Some Need to be Refrigerated
There are two main types of salamis: one must be kept in the refrigerator, and the other does not. It’s about moisture in the meat, bacteria, salt, acidity, and whether it is cooked or not.
Why Can Some Salamis be Kept Outside the Fridge
Dry-cured salamis can be kept outside the fridge because they are salt-cured. They have maybe also been dried, so the unwanted bacteria find it hard to survive, and often, it’s an acidic environment (you know that tangy taste you get sometimes?). The salami is dried to a point where minimal bacterial growth can exist inside the salami.
Dry Cured Salami
These are also known as ‘hard salami‘ or ‘dry salami’
Most of the salami that I make is dry-cured. The traditional Italian salami that is dry cured is a standard size of approx. 2″ thick.
It could take 2 or 3 months to dry the salami traditionally. And at times, it might even take longer than that.
This type of salami is now more of an Artesian style. Most commercially produced salami you get in the supermarket does not fall into this category because corporate commercial salami must be produced fast.
One of the main ways they do this is by adding acidity to the process; if they create an acidic environment inside the salami, unwanted bacteria can’t thrive. Commercial salamis using this technique can be produced in a few days; they avoid the drying aspects because of the acidity.
You might have tried salami like this. It has a strong tangy flavor, which is due to the acidic components which unwanted bacteria are not fond of.
To control unwanted bacteria when making salami, salt, spices, acidity, and cold smoking can be used depending on the style; I use all these aspects for most of my homemade salami.
Do you know that white powdery mold on the outside of some salami? That’s a form of penicillin, a good mold!
For many of the dry-cured salamis I make, introducing a starter culture to change the pH creates an acidic environment. Over a slow drying process, the acidity mellows out. The other starter mold culture I might introduce is the white penicillin type on the outside of the salami.
However, once this is present inside a meat curing or drying area, it tends just happily to co-exist.
Traditional, homemade, or Artisanal dry-cured salami should be very firm if you squeeze it because it’s lost at least 35% to 45% of its weight. This is one of the challenges when drying out salami evenly so that the outside doesn’t dry out faster than the inside.
Hot Smoked Salami
Many of the salamis you see for sale, especially their snack cold beer stick varieties, are smoked and cooked simultaneously. This is what we call hot smoking.
There is not as much salt as if the product was being dry-cured (about half). Because the moisture level has not been reduced and the product is only cooked, you can not keep it outside the refrigerator.
Many of the homemade styles of bacon people make, instead of dry curing, cook / hot smoke to a safe internal temperature. Then, re-cook or dry it to try to crisp it up. The only way to preserve this hot smoked bacon is to keep it in the refrigerator.
Here is a link to the difference between hot and cold smoking.
It can be added to hot smoked salami, which can increase the shelf life considerably to a few extra days. But it’s always best to read the recommendations on packaging to find out how long it’ll last and whether you should keep it in the refrigerator or not.
Unopened packages of certain types of hot smoked salami may last some time due to a lack of oxygen inside the packaging and other techniques the factories use.
No Fridge Style Salami I Use for Hiking and Backpacking
Hard or Dry Cured Salami is most suitable for hiking or backpacking due to its preservation through salt, acidity, and drying.
- Salami Napoli
- Any Dry Cured or Hard Salami