Starting Salumi

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wclough
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Starting Salumi

Post by wclough » Mon Mar 25, 2013 23:45

Hello! So the beginning of my salumi experience has begun. I recently purchased Ruhlman and Poclyn's Salumi. I have been preparing for my experience for several months with excitation and nerves... But the time has finally come and my salame are ready! Excited to finally try my concoction, I removed one from my chamber and cut in to it. It was mushy inside and looked like raw meat. I know this is my first time curing so I didn't expect much - At least I made it this far! - but I was wondering what I could do better next time.

I used a recipe with 4lbs. Pork Shoulder and 1lb. Backfat. 2.75% salt with 0.25% Curing Salt. I used Bactoferm F-RM-52 and attempted to use Mold 600 (which didn't grow at all for reasons I am still unsure of). I purchased Natural Beef Middles from Butcher and Packer and a new electric meat grinder. I followed all of the recipe's instructions including freezing everything before grinding and quickly going through the grinding process. One of my concerns was my stuffing process: I read earlier that improperly stuffing could result in a mushy process. Since I was using Beef Middle Casings, I decided to hand stuff my sausages which took a long time and involved handling the meat a lot. The final casings were a little greasy and somewhat warm. I was also confused because my recipe told me to incubate the salames at 80 degrees F and 80% humidity but I was under the impression that heat was a bad thing... Anyways I went through that process and hung them in my curing chamber 12 hours later. This brings me to my other concern. I live in the midwest and so the climate is fairly erratic and humidity conditions are unstable. My chamber is in my basement where it is around 60 degrees F and an average of 45% humidity. I also used a humidifier and some pans of salted water which brought the room to 55- 60% humidity. To get the room to the ideal 70% humidity (according to Ruhlman/Polcyn) I had to spray the room with water daily.

I finally removed one of the smaller salames from the chamber and sliced into it only to find, as I mentioned earlier, that it was mushy. I had to throw it away and I am hoping the larger sausages turn out better. Until then my stubborn behavior will not allow me to give up. I hope somebody can tell me what might have wrong with my process so I can perfect it in the future. Thanks!
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Post by CrankyBuzzard » Tue Mar 26, 2013 01:02

First question that comes to mind for me is; how is your chamber configured? Are you humidify ing and temp controlling a chamber or an entire room?

How did you incubate? Did you monitor temp and humidity?

Give us a it more info on the chamber and initial incubation process. I'm betting the hang condx are more of an issue than the prep and stuff. However, I may be wrong! :lol:

I only assist a couple of friends in making the fermented delicacies since I haven't built a chamber yet.

But, rest assured, lots of good info is about to come your way from seasoned makers!

Charlie
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Post by CrankyBuzzard » Wed Mar 27, 2013 00:37

C'mon, someone help this guy out!

Or at least tell me I'm wrong! :lol:

Charlie
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Post by Cabonaia » Wed Mar 27, 2013 01:36

I also suspect that it has more to do with the curing conditions than the prep. The Rhulman book takes great pains to make salami making appear to be something you can do with all the stuff that already exists in most kitchens. That would sell more books, no? When it comes to dry curing, I just don't think that is true. For reliable results you need a proper curing chamber, not a bowl of salt water and a mister in a basement, if you know what I mean. I tried that method myself, and was extremely diligent about keeping the humidity up. After a lot of trouble I got mushy sausage and had to throw it out. It's easy and not too expensive to set up an old fridge as a curing chamber, with a humidifier, humidistat, temp controller, and light bulb on a dimmer. Lots of great advice and pictorials exists, down to links for buying your stuff on Amazon. That's what I would recommend. It's well worth it!

Cheers,
Jeff
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Post by Chuckwagon » Wed Mar 27, 2013 05:22

I support every word Charlie and Jeff said!
The best advice I could give you is purchase a copy of "The Art Of Making Fermented Sausages"... by Stan and Adam Marianski from Bookmagic.com and then while you`re waiting for it, study the daylights out of the following link (Project A): http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=5099

Best Wishes,
Chuckwagon
If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably needs more time on the grill! :D
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Post by Cabonaia » Wed Mar 27, 2013 17:48

Chuckwagon wrote:The best advice I could give you is purchase a copy of "The Art Of Making Fermented Sausages"... by Stan and Adam Marianski
That book lives on my nightstand, right next to the Good Book.

One thing I didn't mention whilst sharing my failures was the incubation step, which I did not initially take seriously enough. Super important, and worth being extra watchful during that time. If you don't get your sausages off to a good start with incubation, they will never cure properly no matter how perfect the conditions are. It's not hard, just important. You might get away with a setup in your bathroom or basement or spare room and think you've got it nailed, but then when you try a different salami it doesn't work. For example, I have made both the salami finnochiana (I think he calls it Tuscan Salami) and Spanish chorizo from the Rhulman book. The chorizo is more demanding. Incubating both with a jerry-rigged system in the bathroom turned out good finnochiana and dicey chorizo (aka chicken feed). Now that I've converted an old fridge, I incubate in there and have always gotten good results. I do wish I had a separate incubation chamber....gotta get on that.

Just another argument for telling all your pals you are looking for a free fridge!

Cheers,
Jeff
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Post by redzed » Wed Mar 27, 2013 19:44

I have the Ruhlman Salumi book and enjoyed reading it. But in the end, it is more inspirational rather than instructional. Some of the advice in there might also be dangerous to someone who is using it as the only source of information. But the recipes are worth consideration and Ruhlman has a genuine appreciation for dry cured sausages and meats.

Wclough, I agree with the comments above that you need a proper fermentation chamber and curing environment, especially when you are only starting. I don't understand why you had to stuff beef middles by hand. Do you not have stuffer or stuffing attachment on your grinder? Stuffing by hand increases opportunities for bacteria and it is also important to firmly fill the casings, so that you don't have air pockets in the sausage. If you do, you risk having spoilage. I also found out that it is important to check your PH before and after fermentation. That way you know exactly what is going on and whether your culture has done its job.

But don't give up, study and study some more. You will have successes and failures along the way. I had a salami genoa last year that just never cured properly, lost weight, looked good, but stayed soft and did not taste right. And I just don't know why.
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Post by wclough » Thu Mar 28, 2013 00:43

Wow! This response is unbelievable. You are all really amazing! Thanks for such great responses! So I only had a couple of questions.

Is the best choice for a curing chamber an old refrigerator?
Was anything wrong with my mixing process or was it purely my curing chamber?
What would be the best link to follow for my curing chamber?

Thank you guys so much and, again, I really appreciate all of the fantastic responses!
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Post by Cabonaia » Thu Mar 28, 2013 01:15

wclough wrote:Wow! This response is unbelievable. You are all really amazing! Thanks for such great responses! So I only had a couple of questions.

Is the best choice for a curing chamber an old refrigerator?
Was anything wrong with my mixing process or was it purely my curing chamber?
What would be the best link to follow for my curing chamber?

Thank you guys so much and, again, I really appreciate all of the fantastic responses!
You have to realize we are maniacs here! :mrgreen: You appear to be a goner yourself. :mrgreen:

To your questions:
- I think so, because you can get them for free or really cheap, and I am really cheap! If you want to spend more money, or you just luck out, you can find a unit with just one compartment and a glass door. Sometimes these are called "merchandisers" - you know, the kind of glass door fridge cabinet you see with sodas in them at delis and whatnot.
- You mentioned that when you stuffed, the meat got warm. That was a problem. There is a principle called "only take what you need," meaning, leave the meat in the fridge whenever you are not working with it. Don't let it sit around and warm up while you tend to various steps. For stuffing, I wouldn't recommend using your hands. They are almost 100 degrees F. You should either use a stuffer or stuff directly from your grinder with a stuffing tube. Stuffers are better. If you stuff with a grinder, first grind, then mix, then re-chill the meat before running it through the grinder into casings. Grinders heat the meat up a bit due to friction, so make up for that with extra fridge time. I use the feeezer compartment in my fridge while I'm working.
- Scroll down below the news feed and you will see a whole section on equipment. Plenty of stuff in there about curing chambers. Chuckwagon would of course have better directions!

Cheers,
Jeff
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Post by ssorllih » Thu Mar 28, 2013 03:04

I think that it is time to start clock watching. meat that is near freezing and is in a large lump will still be very cold to the touch in 30 minutes. Set a timer and don't stop for anything without putting everything back into the cooler.
Ross- tightwad home cook
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Post by Baconologist » Thu Mar 28, 2013 04:34

The Ruhlman/Polcyn Salumi book is a unmitigated disaster, a lot of bad information, some of it a serious safety risk!!!!!
Godspeed!

Bob
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