Salami! Secret of Science

How its fantastic flavour can be made?

Science is involved in Salami. Do you like Salami? Have you ever heard its name? If you are sausage-lover, you may recognise how unique its taste is. Salami is known for its characterised texture and taste. It is surely enough to attract a lot of consumers.

You may be interested in a story I will start in this board. It is about ‘Secret of Salami’, based on science.


The main actor of this story is ‘fermentation science’.

We can get back from the origin of salami to understand easily. Salami was named from ‘salumen’ in Latine. The meaning is ‘salted stuff’.  Since fermentation is derived from salting and drying, we can understand how salami can be made. As its meaning, salami is another name of ‘fermented sausage’.


Bacteria as a food maker

Fermentation is a process in which meats can be cured with salt and stored in 20~45°C for a few months. The significant thing behind fermentation is the presence of microorganisms, called ‘starter culture’. Alive microorganisms are used for making salami. Its name is lactic acid–making bacteria. Lactic acid made by those bacteria contributes to salami’s distinguishable flavour.

In past, fermented sausage was produced by natural fungi at home. Although the flavour was sweet to people’s taste, they could not make the sausages with the same quality because of fungi’s changeable features and different environment.

To have stable sausages, certain bacteria were selected: lactobacilli and Micrococacease. Their main role is to produce acid components during fermentation, which gives salami unique flavour. As those bacteria do not release harmful stuffs to human health, they are called ‘beneficial bacteria’.


Secret of texture

Lactic acid can cause pH (acid degree) value in meats to drop to 4.5 to 5.5. This weak acidity condition can make new meat products which have gel-like texture. The behind story is as followed. Low pH value is able to stimulate big muscle proteins to form smaller stuffs by coagulating them. Digested short proteins get together to produce chewing features. This process is associated with salami’s attractive texture.



Aroma is coming from?

Salami’s aroma comes from its ingredients’ change caused by starter cultures. Meats contain three nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein and fat. While protein change is responsible for texture, remaining two are related to flavour. During fermentation, these nutrients experienced digestion by starter cultures. Various acid compounds like acetic, propionic and butyric acids can be made after carbohydrate digestion. Also, fatty acid (combination of fat and acid) in meats can meet oxygen to form different chemical acid products. Those materials boost overall aroma of salami.


You can make salami at home now!

Nowadays many starter cultures can be sold in market. Food making books are providing recipes for salami. Try to use miraculous bacteria to make your food! And have a new experience of secret of salami! See below url for reference.


Jensen, W, Devine, C, & Dikeman, M 2004, Encyclopedia Of Meat Sciences [Electronic Resource] / Editor-In-Chief, Werner K. Jensen ; Edited By Carrick Devine And Michael Dikeman, n.p.: Oxford : Academic, pp. 467-474.

Lucke, FK, 2003, Encyclopedia of Food Science and Nutrition (Second Edition), Chapter: Fermented Food – Fermented Meat Products, pp. 2338-2344

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4 Responses to “Salami! Secret of Science”

  1. Ina Yoon says:

    Hi Crtaylor, good information you gave here. So we need to eat our sandwich with cheese and salami together immediately or place at fridge. Thank you for comment!

  2. crtaylor says:

    Aside from being incredibly hungry after reading this article, you reminded me of something I learnt in 3rd year pharmacology. The combination of cheese and processed meats (such as salami) when melted can lead to the formation of carcinogenic nitrosamines. It ruined salami toasties for about 2 weeks for me and then I went back to living my life. Great article!

  3. Ina Yoon says:

    Thanks, Tranv. I am happy with your comment! Let’s try to make your own salami and taste it! 🙂

  4. tranv says:

    Wow, I never knew making salami involves using micro-organisms! Thanks for the interesting read! I might try getting these starter cultures to make my own salami as I love salami 🙂