Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Salame Saturday! - Faceoff: farmer vs. commercial - rematch. - Results

I know, it's been a long time coming. I'm sure many of you have been wondering what the heck happened since the last farmer vs. commercial post a month and a half ago! Well, it took a good 30 days for the salami to lose about 40% of their weight, so that's where most of the time went. The rest was just my slowness in taking pictures to post!

You can see here on the left side of the picture is the farmer meat salame, on the right is the commercial meat one.

I made sure to remove them from the curing fridge after they had lost an equal amount of water weight. These were at about 43% loss. The farmer one took a good 7-10 longer to lose that weight than the commercial one. I attribute this to the difference in the intramuscular fat.

The commercial one has an obvious, common, defect. You can see that the meat paste wasn't properly bound before i put it into the casing, which has caused the small "cracks" in the salame, leaving small air pockets. This is a dangerous defect, since air inside the salame can cause problems. It doesn't seem to have affected this one though. I'll definitely mix the meat paste longer next time to get a better bind.

There is an obvious difference in color, i'm not really sure why. The textures are also a little difference. The commercial one is a little tougher and chewier.

What about the flavor? The verdict is in! Let me preface this by saying BOTH are FANTASTIC. By FAR the best i've ever made. I attribute this to the F-LC starter i used this time, as well as the lower (72 deg.F), and longer (48 hrs) fermentation. The flavor of both is just outstanding. It is as good as any available, including the best artisinal ones.

So, which is better. I guess i'd have to give the edge to the FARMER one. It is a little richer and deeper in flavor. The texture is a bit better, but I could probably achieve the same texture by drying the commercial a little less.

Would I keep paying 4 times the cost for farmer instead of commercial based on flavor alone? (ignore the whole animal welfare for now). No. Not for salame. For roasts and grilled meats, hell yes, but I think much of the deliciousness of the pork is lost over the drying and spicing and curing. If I could get farmer pork for a small cost increase, I'd use it, but at current prices which are 3-4 times higher than commercial, I don't think i'll use farmer pork.

On a side note, I sort of accidentally removed one of the farmer salami at about 35% weight loss. It is considerably softer than the 43% loss, and also very good. Which do I prefer? I guess if i were making a sandwich, the softer, moister one, if eating out of hand or as an appetizer; the harder one.
I have one more of each type still drying, i expect them to be at about 50-55% loss right now. I'll take them out in the next week or 10 days, and see what they're like.


Guanciale - Cured; off to dry

Whoops! I meant to leave the guanciale in the salt cure for about 7-9 days, instead I left it 16. I hope it doesn't come out too salty... I just totally forgot about it!

Anyhow, today I took the 2 pieces out of the plastic bag, rinsed one off well, and the other not as well ( to see if it has an effect), and hung them.
Not much to this post. Now we wait. Will let one cure at least 30 days before using, the other at least 2-6 months.