Newbie Needs Help
processhead We are attempting cold smoke but I cannot guarantee that the temp doesn’t get slightly elevated during the smoke process. Fibrous casings are stuffed using hydraulic press. We attempt to stuff as tightly as possible without splitting casings.
I apologize for my clumsy responses - still learning how to navigate this site. Thanks for your patience because we seriously need help.
We are using no culture. We purposely hang sausage during winter so as to keep temp in a range of 40 - 65 degrees. We try to manage humidity with vents and a fan. We raise temp with a space heater in a roughly 8 x 8 smoke house and use the fan on low to disperse heat more evenly in smoke house.
Our ability to monitor and control heat and humidity is crude at best, but my suspicion is the bigger issue is our process. An old timer (defined as anyone older than me) said the reason for the deep crevices in finished product, the small amount of mold, and the open cavities is we are encasing/trapping moisture inside the sausage by applying our smoke on day one. He said we should hang for 3 days with no smoke so that the sausage can breath, then apply smoke.
Keith Roever welcome, and thanks for the replies. I can’t say for sure what is happening, but here are some suspicions, and common issues. You may recognize one to be likely.
- You are making a “wild bacteria” salami. Summer sausage used to be made this way, and it is really the actual way the product is described in the authoritative books by Rytek Kutas as well as the Marianski brothers. Summer Sausage should have a good pH drop, down to below 4.8.
- This means your salami is fermenting by whatever bacteria finds its way into the meat, and grows. In the past, makers tried to influence the bacteria by “back slopping” some of a prior batch of meat that turned out well, into current batch. But there is a LOT of risk and unknowns this way… you really don’t know if you will get a culture going that will quickly lower pH to a safe level below 5.3, to defeat other bad meat pathogens, or not. Nor how fast it might happen.
Many bacterial cultures that naturally grow in meat can create air pockets in sausage, off flavors, no pH drop, and allow pathogens like salmonella and listeria to grow.
–easiest way to solve this is just buy some Bactoferm LHP or FLC from Chr. HANSEN, it is on available on Amazon freeze dried and shippable. Mix with some distilled water and add to meat before stuffing.
- Meat must ferment for 1 day to several days for lactic acid bacteria to consume sugars in meat and drop pH. THIS NEEDS TO BE DONE AT 95% TO 100% HUMIDITY! Also between 65f anf 110f, depending on culture used. Most folks wrap chubs in saran wrap to hold in all moisture, place in a controlled temperature space, and test the meat for correct pH drop before proceeding to dry.
---- As your old timer said, your issue here is drying the salami out right from the start, inhibiting correct bacteria from fermentation, making it more likely undesired cultures get a foothold. Drying salami during initial fermentation can lead to little or no pH drop, meat unprotected by low pH acidic environment, leading to air pockets in meat and spoilage.
- Salami needs to be dried in a controlled humidity of between 75 to 90% relative humidity. Temperature needs to be 50-55f. At start, the target is 85-90% for a few weeks to let moisture inside be able to seep its way out as fast as outside dries. This moisture drop, along with pH below 5.3, is what allows entire chub to resist pathogens and not go bad and cause sickness. Once interior has dried a few weeks, moisture can be dropped to 75-85% for further drying.
— If you don’t dry slowly at correct relative humidity, outside dries out too fast causing case hardening, which stops interior moisture from being able to migrate through. Causing later air pockets, mushy interior, possible spoilage.
—if you don’t dry at correct temperature, issues. Too hot, pathogens can grow. Also too fast evaporation on outside, again case hardening even at correct RH. Too cold, they won’t dry out fast enough, again allowing pathogens time to get a foothold before a safe dryness for your pH is reached. If colder temperature used, then a lower RH can be used also, like 60%, but it is not as good a combo as correct 50-55f and higher humidity. More risk.
- Your early cold smoking is actually a DRYING process. It was only used in northern Europe to get temps up to 50s for proper drying, during freezing temps. The smoke and smoke flavor was just a by product of having to use a smudge fire to achieve proper temps. So, it is possible to make it work… but you need to understand what’s happening, and keep temps around 70-80, and HIGH humidity, to allow a ferment. No producer would take the risk of ruining a bunch of meat, and not use a culture. The inability to accurately control temp and humidity during smoking, argues against using that during the critical 1 to 3 days ferment.
- Surface mold on meat in the proper humid drying environment is almost a given. Most you can just wipe off, and wipe chubbs with vinegar. However, most producers choose to spray chubbs with a safe, known, beneficial mold called mold 600, which makes that white coating, and will protect your salami from all other potentially bad mold growths. Also available from Chr Hansen.
- as Jonathan said, cure1 only protects for up to 30 days or so. If longer production times are used, you need to be using cure2.
- Walton’s summer sausage H mix. Jonathon can confirm, but I don’t believe that H seasoning is intended for fermented salami. Rather it is for heat treated cooked. It may work, but in fermented salami you need to be super careful on all the total fermentable sugars in the seasoning. That is what determines final pH of sausage, too much sugar it gets too sour, too little and meat won’t be protected by pH getting low enough. The proper amounts for Summer sausage are in the books I referenced at end.
Hope some of that is helpful! I just typed without reference to any books. However, I recommend you purchase a book,
Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stanley and Adam Marianski. It has all the info you need to make great salami summer sausage and identify and reduce risks.
Also, you can download the Bactoferm Meat Manuals, vol 1 and 3, which are the “how to” guides and spec sheets for bacterial meat cultures from maker Christian Hansen. Just google and download:
Bactoferm Meat Manual Vol 1 Chr Hansen.
Also do vol3 for surface mold protection.
Good luck, hope that is helpful!
Mold 600 bactoferm or potassium sorbate will solve your mold problem.
Stuffing the casings tighter, better protein extraction, and additional liquid will fix the air pockets.
The non-uniform shrinkage is most likely due to the reasons stated above.