I followed the recipe exactly by weight and fat was frozen.
Ok Dave, that clears up a couple of things. I see no evidence of dry rim or case hardening so apparently normal equilibrium was achieved. That means the sausage should continue to lose moisture
, although it could take a bit longer. Rather than cutting it lengthwise, why not allow it to continue drying a little longer and give it a chance to firm up.
You also wrote:
have "snacked" as a test for 3 weeks now. Not sick yet
I'm sure there has been sufficient acidification to render it safe to consume. This probably occurred some time ago. However, it is the texture at the center with which I am most concerned. I believe the problem lies in excessive fat ratio and content. Initially, did you cut it separately from the lean then weigh it? Here are the specs again:
2.0 kg (4.4 lbs.) pork butt
2.0 kg (4.4 lbs.) beef chuck
1.0 kg (2.2 lbs.) pork back fat (or fat trimmings)
The 2.2 lbs is 20% of the total and with the marbled fat inside the trimmed butt and chuck, the total volume should only work out to be about 25%. If you look at the cross section in your photo, I think you`ll agree there is much more than 25% fat. I believe, somehow you just simply put too much fat into the sausage. Again, a "mushy" sausage is often due to excessive fat, even without smearing - (which I`m sure you did not do... especially after that last batch of hot dogs you made last spring... har har har
Dave, ol` pard, the reason I asked about the pH is that when it drops relatively slowly, the action of the curing bacteria is unrestrained. (This is a good thing.) In T-SPX this is the very slow-growing staphyloccus
bacterium. These bacteria are very sensitive to the acidity produced by lactobacilli
. In fact, at about 5.4 they become increasingly less active until they become almost dormant. This is the reason sugar is not usually added to the list of ingredients in dry-cured salami. As staphyloccus
[added dependent upon desired fermentation curing temperatures]) grow in numbers, they induce the reduction of nitrate into nitrite. It is the nitrite that brings about the nice red color in the meat. It`s hard to tell from a photo, but it looks like the color may be a little pale in your salami also. This could possibly indicate that there was damage to the staphylocci
by the acidity produced by pediococci
in the early fermenting stage. So, with increased acidity comes the isoelectric point at about 5.0 pH or less, when the water-holding ability of the meat becomes enervated and the elimination of moisture in the salami actually becomes less difficult. At this "isoelectric" point, the sausage is safe to consume and the texture is much more firm. Although checking the pH is the most reliable source of testing the acidity, we can generally assume that the salami is safe and will last almost indefinitely if we keep it cool and protected from light in 60% humidity or thereabouts. (Note that if the humidity is higher, mold will continue to grow on the surface. If the humidity is too low, the sausage will dry out excessively. My point is that the staphyloccus
(acid sensitive) is responsible for flavor and color development by breaking down not only proteins, but fats as well
Meat contains about 75% water. Fat contains only about 15% water at most. Thus, water activity (Aw) may normally be lowered faster in a fat sausage than a lean one. For this reason, a sausage containing more fat and less meat, contains less water and should dry faster. However, when the fat ratio exceeds 50%, it is my belief that although the meat may continue to dry, some moist fat will always remain in the center for some time. I would suggest simply continuing drying the sausage as usual until it firms up eventually. This should take place in a humidity-controlled atmosphere of at least 60% or preferably 70% if possible. Placing it in your garage will dry it out and harden the casing, thus preventing any additional diffusion and evaporation. If this happens, the moist inside will eventually spoil and render the salami inedible. Why not give it more time to continue drying in a properly regulated chamber. And next time... lean out the mixture pal!
Don`t be upset and don`t have regrets. Look how much you`ve learned about the process. At the beginning of this year, you didn`t even think you could get this far. Now you know many of the little secrets that will allow you to make a better batch next time. Hey, remember the old saying - nothing ventured - nothing gained. You`ve invested in a terrific amount of knowledge by completing this project. You`ve also gained valuable experience! Have no regrets at all my friend.
PS. The only bad thing about not having it come out perfectly is that you have to take a bit of jibing by "motor mouths" like me. Living down a "fat" sausage just might be hard to do! Whew, I`m glad you never saw my first batch! I still refer to it as a "blooey".