Dehydrator to dry summer sausage?

  • Hello - I am considering purchasing a dehydrator and then putting a ready-to-eat fermented summer sausage in there to dry and create a dried version of the summer sausage. I think that using a dehydrator would speed up the process of drying and create a very consistent product. Hanging it up to dry takes a long time and there are so many variables, and we hope using the dehydrator would solve these problems.

    Does anyone have experience with this process or thoughts on if it would work? I’ve never used a dehydrator, so trying to learn here.


  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Power User Arizona Dry Cured Sausage Dry-Cured Expert

    lgnick hi, see this is your 1st post, welcome!

    There is a reason that drying a salami takes time, and it’s not because salami makers couldn’t figure out how to use a dehydrator or find a hot dry place 😉 If drying happens below 75 to 85% humidity, the outside dries faster than moisture can migrate out from center, creating a hard dry shell called case hardening, that won’t pass moisture. You end up with a hard outer shell and soft wet interior.

    If drying takes place above 50 to 55f, the usual pH of < 5.3 is unable to provide pathogen inhibition, and bacteria grow.

    You stated you were starting with a ready to eat fermented product… makes me think you’re buying from a store then drying more? If it is fermented and ready, that means it is already dry. However, I would say that 99% of all Summer Sausage from a store is NOT the original style fermented sausage, but a cooked product subjected to a pathogen lethality treatment and artificially acidified with citric acid if at all. They may be shelf stable, but are more likely only refrigerator stable. Ready to Eat USFDA label is usually applied to a cooked product that is only refrigerator stable. It’s possible it might be shelf stable, but that is a higher level of production AND labeling, and no manufacturer would miss applying that “higher” label if it was true.
    It is likely not stable at dehydrator temps, and attempting to dry it above 55f for more than 6 hrs may put it squarely in the “danger zone” of 40 to 130f for more than the USFDA 6 hr pathogen limit. Again, it is hard to say for sure and totally depends on the actual product, “Ready to Eat” doesn’t provide enough info to know.

    If this is just a salami product you’re making yourself, then drying at below 75% relative humidity and or above 55f, you can expect product to be ruined.

    If this is a purchased product you’re just wanting more dry, the best way to do it is just ensure case is water permeable or remove it, wrap in a paper bag in fridge for 2 or 3 days. Fridge is extremely low humidity, it will dry out. Then place inside plastic bag, in fridge, to allow inside moisture to equalize with dry outer shell. By doing this in 1 to 3 day increments, you can dry it out without too much case hardening to equalize, and temps will be safe for bacteria.

    Recommend you buy and read Stanley and Adam Marianski book The Art of Making Fermented Sausages, or their Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages. Absolutely worth it and a great run down on drying.

    Hope that info is helpful, Good luck!

  • Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User Sous Vide Oklahoma Team Camo

    Dave in AZ great explanation 👍

  • Team Blue Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Dry Cured Sausage Masterbuilt Military Veterans Power User Regular Contributors

    lgnick Dave is spot on with his advice, unfortunately there are no real short cuts to the process.
    EDIT: Welcome to the board.

  • Team Blue Power User Regular Contributors Alabama

    We have not yet broken down to experience the full blown fermented sausage method, as much as we want to & will. We do use the STX brand dehydrator that we have to do the final dry using the Walton’s Summer Sausage & Pepperoni units along with the ECA accelerant & it works very well. we have been able to get the PH down just right, according to our PH meter, but do not yet have a Wa meter to check the water activity, once we do a real ferment & smoke/dry. The results have been very good, but I cannot say without a doubt that they are shelf stable, so we are refrigerating. I can say that a few folks that we have given them too left them out, even though we warned them not to, & they said they had not issues & the taste was great.

  • Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User Sous Vide Oklahoma Team Camo

    lgnick welcome aboard

  • Military Veterans Sous Vide Canning Traeger Power User Arizona Dry Cured Sausage Dry-Cured Expert

    calldoctoday good info!
    cdavis mrobisr thx

  • Team Orange Power User Canning Masterbuilt Regular Contributors Veteran New Mexico Sous Vide Gardening

    lgnick Welcome to the community.

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