Salami – Meat of the Month



With a long and colourful history regional variations as well as preparation techniques of salami have over centuries created various types encompassing a wide variety of textures, flavours and sizes.







Note: The word “salami” is used indifferently in English; salami is, in fact, the plural of Italian salame – a generic term describing any type of encased (insaccati) meat product.




Salami differs from country to country. Italian salami is region bound, and can be smoked or un-smoked, and come with their own formulas, and curing and maturation processes. Other variations are German salame, which is mild in texture and flavour, and Spanish salchichon, which is spicy.


Traditional salami, with their typical marbled appearance, are made from one or more of the following meats: pork, chopped beef (particularly veal), venison, poultry (especially turkey), goat and horse.  


Additional ingredients may include spices, herbs, garlic, minced fat, wine and vinegar. Some types, including a few varieties from Spain, most Hungarian types, and southern Italian styles such as those from Naples, which in turn inspired American pepperoni, contain paprika or chilli powder.


Salami – also differentiated by the coarseness or fineness of the chopped meat as well as the size and style of the casing used – can be prepared in either fresh, cooked or dry-cured varieties. Dry-cured salami is ready to eat once sliced, while the fresh variety must be cooked beforehand. Both fresh and cooked varieties do not have a long shelf life and must be eaten shortly after slicing.


All varieties of salami should share some basic characteristics: the meat, red/pink inside with fine grains of white fat bits, which, much like another famous sausage, Mortadella di Bologna, should not separate from the meat when sliced.


Salami is cured in warm, humid conditions to encourage growth of the favourable bacteria involved in the fermentation process. High-quality, fresh ingredients are used to prevent deadly micro-organisms and toxins from developing during the maturation process.


The curing phase is the beginning of the maturation process, which starts immediately after the addition of salt. Nitrates or nitrites are used to provide the cured meat colour and inhibit growth of Clostridium species. Salt, nitrate/nitrite levels, acidity, and dryness of the fully-cured salami combine to make the uncooked meat safe for consumption.




In the old, traditional method of producing salami, the meat paste, after grinding and mixing, was refrigerated for approximately 24 to 48 hours, depending upon the recipe being used. In the modern process, the refrigeration period has been replaced by immediate fermentation of the salame paste at 30ºC or higher, as lactic acid bacterial starter cultures are added to the paste to lower the acid content of the meat to a point where many harmful bacteria are arrested.


When the curing time is over – determined by the climate of the curing environment and the size and style of casing – the meat paste is stuffed into casings and tied. The casing used must allow moisture to filter through the salami during drying.


Casings fall into two categories: natural (intestine, bladder, stomach or oesophagus from beef, pork or sheep) and artificial (collagen – some edible and others not – or fibrous). The colours and patterns of artificial casings vary: they can, for instance, be black (used for Pepperoni), white (used for Milano), and have a diamond pattern, such as in the case of Hungarian salame. When it comes to Brotform salame, no casing is used.


In stage two, the incubation phase, the stuffed salame is kept warm at 30°C to 32°C for one to two days. The relative humidity is kept at 75% to 85%, although some formulations require as high as 90% RH.



The final process, the drying phase, may last a month or more, subject to the diameter of the salami. During this phase, the temperature is generally 12°C to 18°C with a relative humidity of 70% to 80%. The maintenance of this high humidity is essential to prevent the casing from hardening, which occurs when the outer circumference of the salami dries faster than the interior.


Throughout the drying process, the salame loses 35% to 45% of its water content, which prevents growth of spoilage bacteria, and the casing becomes encrusted with a white powdery substance. This mold is an edible, harmless form of bacteria and is crucial to the curing process, as it imparts aroma and prevents spoilage.


At the conclusion of the drying phase, the salame can be kept un-refrigerated.


The most popular regional salamis


  • Cacciatorini or Cacciatore is a dry Italian salame, which generally consists of equal parts of pork and beef, however, it can be produced entirely with pork. It is seasoned with black pepper, garlic, spices and dry white wine. Dry sausages such as Cacciatorini are commonly thought of as hunter-style salami, since they are made as small meats to be carried in hunters’ pockets and eaten as a lunch meal.


  • Ciauscolo, typical of Marche, is a smoked and dry-cured sausage, made from pork meat and fat cut from the shoulder and belly. It is spiced with black pepper and garlic.


  • Danish salami is made with a mixture of pork, beef or veal and a high percentage of pork fat, coloured red to resemble meat. Fully cooked, this salami is seasoned with wine, garlic and natural spices.


  • Fuet is a thin, cured, dry Spanish sausage made of pork meat in a pork gut casing.


  • Genoa salami is commonly believed to have originated in the area of Genoa, Italy. It is normally made from pork but may also contain beef, and is seasoned with garlic, salt, black and white peppercorns, fennel seeds and red or white wine.


  • Fegatelli is an air-dried, Corsican-style salame made from pork meat and fat combined with garlic, red wine, spices and sea salt.


  • Felino, an Italian cured meat from the Province Parma, is characterised by a smooth texture, and long, thin shape.


  • Finocchiona is a typical Tuscan salame flavoured with fennel seeds.


  • Genovese salame is leaner than regular dry salame and has a coarser grind with whole black peppercorns and Pinot Gregio Wine.


German salame is composed of beef and pork, and is flavoured with spices and garlic. The meat is chopped somewhat coarser than summer or cervelat sausage and shows a fair amount of fat. (Cervelat is categorised under summer sausage – any sausage containing a mixture of pork and other meat such as beef and/or venison, and does not require refrigeration. Summer sausage can be either dried or smoked, and seasonings vary significantly. They may include mustard seeds, black pepper, garlic salt, or sugar.)


  • Longaniza is a Spanish sausage similar to a chorizo but longer and thinner, and comprises paprika, allspice (or cinnamon and anise), and vinegar.


  • Milano salami is one of the standard North Italian cold cuts. It is made with beef, pork, and pork fat which are ground to the size of grains of rice. Typical spices used are pepper, pimento and nutmeg, and sometimes garlic.


  • Nduja, with its absolutely unique taste, is completely different from any other salami in that it is spreadable. This soft, spicy pork-based salame from Italy is flavoured with salt and chilli pepper.


  • Pepperoni: Made from pork and beef and seasoned with red and black pepper, this is an American version of dry, spicy Italian salami.


  • Saucisson Sec, traditionally made in the French countryside, is a dry-cured pork sausage with a bit of garlic and pepper.


  • Soppressata is a specialty of southern Italy, and often embraces hot pepper, although, as with all salami, seasonings vary. 


  • Winter salami is made from pork mixed with predominantly white pepper and allspice. It is cured in cold air and smoked slowly.



There are a number of local companies who consider salami making a work of art.


Leading contenders in this field include Hartlief, Feinschmecker, Holstein Meats, and Col’tempo where salami, along with a number of speciality products, are produced.




Hartlief – For more than 70 years, Hartlief has been committed to providing quality meat products .


Hartlief Corporation Ltd in Namibia, Southern Africa, is a multifaceted meat manufacturing company selling raw and processed meat locally as well as internationally.


The company believes in the addition of value to meat and strongly supports the aims of Namibia’s Vision 2030. Our business involvement stretches across the whole value-adding chain from producer, abattoir, wholesaler and processor to the end-consumer.


Products are marketed under the well-established brand of Hartlief. Hartlief is known for its comprehensive variety of high quality processed meat products, as well as fresh and frozen beef, lamb, chicken, pork and game meat.


The Hartlief salami range includes Beef Salami, Dauerwurst, Edel Salami, Game Salami, German Salami, Italian Salami, Namib Salami and Pepper Salami




Feinschmecker Deli Meats  – Over the years, Feinschmecker Deli Meats has built up a formidable reputation as the market leader in its industry, servicing the smallest restaurant to the biggest chain store with equal enthusiasm. Uniquely Feinschmecker has the capability to deliver nationwide.


Every product is hand-made & taste-profiles are constantly improved whilst striving for consistent quality. Feinschmecker recipes all resonate from continental Europe and are implemented in the traditional way without cutting corners, this includes smoking with natural wood-chips & using only the finest ingredients from recognised suppliers.


Feinschmecker has a comprehensive range of artisanal  salami. Their Salami range includes – Smoked Brotform Pfeffer Salami, Smoked Beef Salami, Smoked Hungarian Salami, Smoked Cervalat Salami, Smoked Pepperoni Salami (SA’s first proper cured New York style pepperoni.), Smoked Pepper Salami,   Smoked Picante Salami, Traditional Salami, Chorizo curado and Italian Salami.


Col’tempo – Col’tempo was started in 2014 by the father and son team Hylton and Paul in Durban. Selling their goods at local food markets they slowly learnt the art of dry curing meat in the traditional Italian way.


They now operate from a boutique factory with a deli & cafe, just off Florida road in Durban.


See how they make salami the traditional way, get a taste of Italy at the cafe, grab some fresh Sourdough & stock up on delicious deli products.


Their salami range includes spicy Chorizo, Mini-Milano, Felino, Pepperoni, Abruzzo, Salami Milano and Pepperoni Whole Roll.



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