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Fermentation Science: Meats

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Helpful Definitions

Lactobacillus spp. -  Lactic acid bacteria, many of which are used in food fermentation, including milk, meat, and plant products. There are three main groups, reflecting the ability to ferment various hexoses, pentoses, and disaccharides to lactic acid or lactic acid and other metabolites. Some species are also used as probiotic micro-organisms.

Salami - Originally from Italy, salami is a type of sausage made with ground pork and cubes of fat seasoned with garlic, salt, and spices. The name “salami”, from the Italian salare, meaning “to salt,” refers to the salting process used to make highly seasoned dry sausages with a characteristic fermented flavor.

Salami is usually approximately three to four inches in diameter and often named after the city or region of origin. Salami varies according to country or region of origin, coarseness or fineness of the meat blend, size, and seasonings. Kosher salami is made from kosher ingredients under rabbinical supervision.

Italian immigrants introduced salami to the United States in the mid to late nineteenth century. At the turn of the twentieth century, the immigrants identified the temperate climate of northern California as best suited for dry-curing salami. San Francisco emerged as the leader in salami production and continues to be regarded as the salami capital of America.

In the early eighteenth century Armour and Company, in Chicago, started the first automated commercial production of salami. Salami, in accordance with Old World customs, was traditionally made in late fall and early winter and cured during the cooler season for consumption throughout the year. Refrigeration and humidity control technologies did away with the seasonality of salami production and allowed for salami production throughout the year. Salami manufacture initially required five to ten days to ensure optimum curing and flavor development. When lactic acid cultures became available commercially, curing time decreased from days to hours. With advances in ingredient technologies, egg whites and sodium caseinate were used to bind moisture in the product and significantly reduce drying time. Smoke flavoring further helped reduce production time to a matter of hours.

(Source: Oxford Reference)