Jeff, you wrote:
...so am asking you, CW, and whichever other knowledgable person wants to chime in
I don`t know if I qualify as a knowledgeable person or not but here are my 2 cents: In Europe, pediococcus cerevisiae
has been traditionally used at relatively lower temperatures which have resulted in a much milder flavor than those products made using other lactobacilli
. In 1957 the micrococcus bacterium
was introduced. Then, during the 1960`s, even more curing strains were placed on the market and staphylococcus carnosus
is still widely used today. About the time Rytek was writing changes for his second edition, he remarked that soon we may even see the distribution of bio-cultures to the small home-hobbyist. In 1966, the first universal and most practical lactic acid bacteria for use in sausage was introduced by a developer by the name of Nurmi. This is the workhorse called lactobacillus plantarum
which is used at moderate temperatures. Ol` Rytek was excited. I still am. Anyone who remembers the trial and error of a quality and uniform controlling effort of bacterial development remembers the first time that Chr. Hansen "Bactoferm"™ came on the market. It was a boon and a blessing! The manufacturer produced the smallest volume practicable for use by the home salami enthusiast. For example, in the case of LHP, the bio-culture is shipped in a 42 gram packet that must remain deeply frozen (sub-zero) or the bacteria will expire in about two weeks. At 15 degrees below zero, it should last about six months.
Then in the 1970`s, "wondercures" were made by combining
lactic acid bacteria and curing bacteria. These "multi-strain" cultures not only ferment meat, they also develop color and flavor, as well as fighting off undesirable bacteria. Each culture on Chr.Hansen`s list has a specific property and a unique "profile". Each has its own recommended fermentation temperature. Most are hetero-fermentative
(meaning they not only produce lactic acid by metabolizing carbohydrates, but they also create many different reactions as well - sometimes producing unpleasant odors.) PU
In opposition, starter cultures producing lactic acid only, are called "homo-fermentative
In the laboratory, each culture is developed for a uniquely precise effect and yes, each will produce a product having its unique flavor profile although it may be similar to others. Merely one gram of any specific lactic acid culture
may contain tens of millions of bacterial cells ensuring domination over undesirable microorganisms.
Your problem? How long has it been in the supplier`s deep freezer
before being sold to you? Merely a 42-gram packet of LHP will treat 500 pounds (225 kilo) of meat. Yeah, I know... what hobbyist puts up 500 pounds of meat within 6 months.
As far as I know, the answer to your question is this:
The only positive indication of extant bacteria is determined only by examination beneath a microscope.
The current price of Bactoferm LHP
(fast=2days) is $22.99 for 42 grams. If you are looking for a slower acidification with less acidity and sour flavor, Bactoferm T-SPX
is available currently for $17.99 but that is for only 25 grams. The good ol` medium-fast F-RM-52
(4 days) is still $14.99 for 25 grams.
I look at the situation this way: I was one of the ol` timers who didn`t have this "manna" initially. To me, it is worth every cent to divide the packet into three parts, make larger batches of sausage, and use the bio-culture up until about three or four weeks before it expires. I`ve never had a batch expire because I keep fresh Bactoferm on hand and plan my sausage-making timetable whenever possible. Quite truthfully, if I only got two larger batches of sausages made within the 6 month period, it would still be worth the price.
Sorry I don`t have a concrete, foolproof, "bio-culture validity" answer for you, but there just isn`t one available. Grab your microscope and take a look at them. If you see the little buggers smiling back at you with sharp teeth, then you`ll know they are still kickin`!