Salami is a pretty important food item for many folks, especially in Europe and the U.S. and there’s just so many different types to choose from.
But despite our love for salami we can’t help but wonder sometimes if this meat is safe to eat – is it raw ? For some folks the possibility of salami being raw put them off this delicious meat completely.
Well, we’re here to make things clear and help out those who would like to know more about food stuffs, salami included. So let’s see if it’s raw or not, and what’s really in it.
Is salami raw ?
Salami is not raw, it is a type of cured meat. It may look raw because of its marbled appearance, and most of them are a deep, dark red or maroon which resembles raw red meat.
Salami does start out as a raw meat, right at the beginning of the production process, but it does not stay that way. We’ll get to explaining that in a minute.
Do not confuse with raw sausages
Another reason you may think salami is raw is because it resembles sausages, and most of those are raw and need to be cooked.
In a way, salami is like a sausage. Both salami and sausage have ground or finely chopped meat, fat, and spices mixed together and stuffed into a casing, usually pig intestine.
However the raw sausages are always much duller and paler in appearance than any kind of salami.
In fact it might be better to take a look at how salami is made, so we can really understand what it is and why the end product is not raw.
How salami is made (short version)
Salami is a type of deli meat made predominantly from pork, though you may find game, beef, or turkey salami as well.
Traditional salami starts out raw, indeed. The meat is ground or chopped and then mixed with ingredients.
The next step is to stuff the meat into an edible organic casing, or an inedible casing (usually cellulose) that needs to be removed before eating.
Fermentation begins to take place, the meat being left in warm, humid rooms to allow fermentation to happen.
The fermentation process cures the meat through developing bacterial cultures. Some salami types are not fermented and are simply dried, cured meats but most of them need fermentation.
There’s many types of salami and each type has a specific recipe and must follow a specific process.
After the meat is cured and the bacteria allowed to develop, the salami is then hung in a cooler, drier room so the meat can dry out.
The overall moisture content of salami is pretty low, and this helps it stay safe to eat for long periods of time.
The entire process of making salami rolls can take several weeks or months, some salami types taking longer since they may need some smoking to further develop flavor or keep it safe.
Salami is cured meat, actually
The meat in salami starts out raw but it does not end up raw. Through the curing process the meat is dried, fermented where it needs to, and also heavily salted and spiced.
It’s very similar to prosciutto, where the meat is cured and dried and despite being raw in the beginning it ends up being edible.
An important thing to note is that each region of the world makes its salami differently. For example in Southern and Eastern Europe summers are long, dry, and hot so it’s good environment to dry out salami.
In Northern Europe the salami is more of a smoked, spiced affair rather than dried since there isn’t enough heat and dryness year-round to make this possible.
Keep in mind that nowadays salami is made in controlled environments so the region doesn’t matter anymore in terms of possibility of making a salami type.
But traditions and local demand asks for specific salami types to keep being made in specific regions, with some types being a PGI product (protected geographical indication).
Some salami is pre-cooked
There are a few salami types that are cooked, though they are rare to find. These are salami types are paler in color, more of a pink than a dark red and are softer, springier.
They’re also never dried, so they will generally appear larger and may develop mold faster due to the high humidity.
Despite being cooked, the meat is still salted and spiced like for regular salami and this helps it keep longer.
So is salami safe to eat ?
Yes, salami is safe to eat as-is. Whether it’s traditional, cured meat salami or cooked salami you can simply slice it and eat it right then and there.
There’s no immediate reason to cook salami but you can always do this if you feel it’s necessary. Keep in mind that cured meat does not fry very well since there is very little moisture in it.
On the other hand the cooked salami type is alright to fry in just a little bit of oil, and it will behave very much like bacon.
Due to the way salami is made – either cured or cooked – this meat will last a long time. Keeping it in a fridge will prolong its shelf life for months, as long as the meat is not contaminated.
If you’re buying salami from a deli and it’s being cut for you on the spot, you should go through it within 2 week tops, otherwise the constant air exposure will change the flavor.
If you’ve got any other food curiosities be sure to check the related articles below, we’re always adding more food facts to make your life that much easier.