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.


Anonymous said...


As mostly a lurker I have to tell you I really enjoy your blog. I know it's different than most because of the time needed for this craft, but IMO it's really worth it-so Thanks!

Both salame look fantastic, and I would agree with you on the verdict of pork. Even for fresh Italian sausage I can tell the difference vs commercial pretty easily, but in cured meats those differences ar largely lost based on my tastings as well.


Jasonmolinari said...

Glad you enjoy the blog Jeff. And good to know i'm not the only one who has this opinion about farmer vs. commercial.

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking a fair bit about this as I start my charcuterie making... I wonder you could tell a greater difference when making fresh sausage?

Jasonmolinari said...

I imagine even with fresh it might be hard because of all the spices.

Unknown said...

I notice you go from high humidity (90%) in fermentation to the 70% drying chamber without gradually decreasing humidity between 90 to 70% over time, as Marianski's book recommends. Any issues with casing hardening doing that? It doesn't appear so.

Jasonmolinari said...

no, no case hardening as long as you keep the RH around 70 or so.