WHAT is salami?
It’s quite a mysterious sausage. It’s great on pizza and as a sandwich filler but what else is known about it?
Salami is a form of cured, fermented and air-dried sausage. This is a way of preserving food which was a critical need in a time before refrigerators. It is not surprising that this type of sausage is ancient and found in culture all over the world.
It is not known when or where salami comes from but this famous Italian-version of dried sausage even has its own holiday – Salami Day – which is today!
Romans called it salsum which means salted. But while salt was used as a meat preservative long before we invented writing, salami belongs to a group of air-cured pork meats called salumi insaccati, which means encased. This is because the meat is prepared and then wrapped in a natural skin usually made from pig intestines. Salami is usually mostly pork meat but variations do exist. The meat is ground and mashed to a special texture while select spices are added.
The salami tube is usually aged between 30 and 90 days or longer depending on the recipe. A good salami must have the right balance of lean meat and fat.
Because most salami is made by machines today, it tends to be leaner than it was traditionally but the best salami is said to be the artisanal or handmade “fatti come una volta”style or as we would understand it: made as they used to be.