Cold Smoked Salami

What Salami Does Not Need to be Refrigerated? (And Types)

Some salami needs to be kept in the refrigerator and some do not. I have made salami for a few decades and this question people ask often wanting 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 there are a dry cured cured types.

I’ll elaborate on dry cured salami below to give you better idea of 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 a point of preservation.

Types of Salamis & Why Some Need to be Refrigerated

There are two main types of salamis one needs to be kept in the refrigerator and the other one not. It’s about moisture in the meat, bacteria, salt, acidity, cooked, or not.

Why Can Some Salamis be Kept Outside the Fridge

Dry-cured salamis are able to 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 in the traditional way. 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 that you get in the supermarket do not fall into this category because corporate commercial salami needs to be produced fast.

One of the main ways they do this is adding to the process addition acidity, 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, most of the homemade salami I make use all these aspects.

You know that white powdery mold on the outside of some salami? That’s a form of penicillin, a good mold!

For a lot of the dry-cured salamis I make, introducing a starter culture to change the pH mean the acidic environment is created. Over a slow drying process the acidity mellows out. The other starter mold culture I might introduce is the white penniclin type on the outside of the salami.

Though once this is present inside a meat curing or drying area, it tends to just happily co-exist.

Traditional, Homemade or Artisanal dry-cured salami should be very firm if you squeeze it because it’s lost at least 35% up 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 that you see for sale especially their snack cold beer stick varieties are smoked and cooked at the same time. This is what we call hot smoking.

Hot Smoked Salami = cooked/smoked at the same time

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 that is why you can not keep it outside the refrigerator.

Many of the homemade styles of bacon people make, instead of dry curing, they cook / hot smoke to a safe internal temperature. Then re-cook or dry it to try and crispy it up. The only way to preserve this type of hot smoked bacon is to keep it in the refrigerator.

Here is a link to the difference between hot and cold smoking.

Preservatives

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.

Salamis Suitable 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.

  • Genoa
  • Soppressata
  • Salami Napoli
  • Any Dry Cured or Hard Salami

Comments

  1. I bought some great salami from Olli Salumeria in Oceanside CA.
    First two chubs were dry and delightful. Ate slowly over two months keeping stub in the fridge.
    Bought two more chubs recently. Went to skin the first one and it was slimy. I washed it in hot water and skinned it. Tasted OK but sliminess was mildly disgusting.
    What’s the norm?
    Thank you.

    1. Author

      Consistent production of salami is definitely challenging commercially or at home. If it ain’t tasting good, it’s obviously not the norm!

  2. My grandmother often speaks of salami that they used to purchase at the local country store in the 1930’s. She said it had peppercorns in it and that the store (in south Louisiana) used to have them hanging in the loft. They were brown and not white on the outside. Any idea what type that would have been? I would love to get some for her.
    Thanks,
    Ed

    1. Author

      Heya, I have no idea! but maybe they were cold smoked? That knocks back the white penicillin good mold on the outside. It also protects things a bit with anti-bacterial/fungal properties. All the best, Tom

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