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Dry and semidry sausages are made from fresh meats that are ground, seasoned, and cured during processing. They are stuffed into either natural or synthetic casings, fermented, often smoked, and carefully air-dried. True dry sausages are generally not cooked and may require long drying periods of between 21 to 90 days, depending on their diameter.
The distinctive flavor of these sausages is due to the lactic acid produced by fermentation. This fermentation occurs after the meat is stuffed into casing and the bacteria metabolize the sugars, producing acids and other compounds as byproducts and the resulting tangy flavor.
Semidry sausages, such as summer sausage, are often fermented and cooked in a smokehouse. Both dry and semidry sausages are ready to eat and do not require heating before serving, although a cool temperature or refrigeration is recommended for storage. Dry and semidry sausages include summer sausage, pepperoni, salami, and Landjäger, among others. These are detailed in the paragraphs below.
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A general term for any sausage that can be kept without refrigeration. It is typically a fermented sausage with a low pH to slow bacterial growth and provide a longer shelf life. It is usually made from a mixture of beef or beef and pork. Venison can also be used to make summer sausage. It resembles some of the drier salamis but is milder and sweeter in flavor. Summer sausage can be either dried or smoked, and although curing agents can vary considerably, some sort of curing salt is almost always used.
A hotly spiced Italian-style sausage made from coarse-ground, fermented pork with ground red pepper as the main flavoring. It is a dry sausage and increases in flavor as it progresses through the drying process.
Milano salami photo from Adobe Stock/Comugnero Silvana
Not necessarily a specific sausage; most often refers to those products that have similar characteristics; is made from beef, pork, or both. Salamis can be found in many sizes and shapes, and they may be dry and quite hard. Most are made with garlic, salt, various herbs and spices, and some minced fat. Salamis are made by allowing the raw meat mixture to ferment for 24 hours before it is stuffed into either a natural or synthetic casing and then hung to dry. Most are treated with an edible mold culture that is spread over the outside, which prevents spoil-age during curing. Pepperoni is one type of salami; others include Genoa, kosher, Milano, Sicilian, Novara, and Sorrento.
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A traditional Swiss-German dried sausage that is a popular snack food. Its taste is similar to dried salami, and it can be boiled and served with vegetables. It is made from equal portions of beef and pork (substitute venison, moose, or elk for beef), with fat or lard, sugar, and spices added. The meat is pressed into small casings for making links, usually 6 to 8 inches long. They are then pressed into a mold before drying. This gives the strips their characteristic rectangular shape. After drying, they can keep without refrigeration if needed.
Also from The Hunter's Guide to Butchering, Smoking, and Curing Wild Game and Fish:
- Muscles Are Meat: Other Factors Affecting Meat Quality
- Game Meat Sausage: Sodium Nitrate and Potassium Nitrate