In the UK, there is a contingent of salami producers who produce award-winning products that are wildly popular and much sought after. However, the majority of producers of this gourmet food are not from the UK but are found in Europe with Spain, France, and Italy leading the pack. Not only artisans but anyone can try making Salumi by taking salami making courses. That’s because beautiful end products can be regularly made perfectly due to their climates with the perfect blend of consistent humidity levels and air temperatures to cure the meats properly.
Parma ham, salami, and the beloved Pata Negra Iberico ham cure over a long period of time. In fact, it can take up to five years for the highest quality Bellota Spanish hams to completely cure. During that time, deep and glorious flavours combine with a delectable sweetness making these hams one of the most sought after foods in the world.
In the world of gourmet cooking, it takes a long time to get the desired flavours and the production process is labour intensive. It starts long before the meat arrives in the kitchen and relies upon the acres of meadow and woodland that the pigs feed within. The Bellota ham gets its distinctive flavour because the Pata Negra pigs graze on acorns found in the wild. Those acorns create a marbled effect within the meat and deliver a nutty flavour that is much sought after in a meat that is infused with the acorn oil and a very dark red colour. Pigs that are kept within a battery result in flavourless, fatty meat. On the other hand, when animals graze free-range, that meat develops a rich flavour that is beyond compare.
The artisans who prepare the meat for insertion within the salami casings do not take shortcuts or cut quality in any way by trying to speed the process. Instead, they rely on equipment that has been in use for many generations and is operated by hand. The taste of the salami is ruined when modern commercial machines are used because those machines mechanically destroy the texture of the meat.
Once the salami has been placed within the casings, a curing period of up to 17 days is begun prior to offering it for sale. On the outside of the salami, a crusty layer of salt is used to remove moisture from the meat. However, in order to prevent the casing of the salami from drying out and to keep moisture levels optimal within the curing meat at optimal levels, the curing room is kept humid. In order to remove excess moisture and completely cure it, air flow must be ensured. That’s why holes are placed in the salami and air pockets are eliminated.
Once this entire process has completed, the artisan salami is perfection itself and ready to be sold. If you are lucky enough to sample some of this meat, you are in for a treat.