Dry cured pepperoni hollow inside
I made a batch of dry cured pepperoni in December. Today it was hanging for just over a month so I decided to taste one to see how it was coming along.
The original weight 31 days ago was 10 oz. Today it weighed in at just under 5 oz.
Temperature during that time in the basement was about 42 degrees F.
Humidity was low, not sure how low, but low.
When I cut into a piece, the inside had hollowed itself out. So was it time, temperature, humidity or a combo of all of them that made it dry out this way?
@Ed_Orum I am going to look at a few books I have at work becuase I know I have read something about this in the past year but I can’t rememner what it was. I’d recommend you not eat any though until I can find that information. I will also talk to our application specialist about this. What cure did you use?
#2 cure, two teaspoons, ten pounds of meat.
@ed_orum Sausage dries from the inside out, so you need to make sure your evaporation off of the skin will match the transmission from the interior of the sausage to the outside of the sausage. If it evaporates off the surface too quickly you are going to trap all that moisture in the middle and rot your sausage. This could be what you are seeing. Does it smell a lot worse than normal dry curing sausage?
More likely though is that this is a stuffing issue. For Dry Cured Sausage you need to get a really tight stuff to prevent air pockets from forming, if they do form they will do exactly what it sounds like they did to you. Also, make sure your air release valve is open to prevent any air pockets.
Are your pockets small and random or are they large and more throughout the entire thing? If they are small it is probably the stuffing issue, if they are larger then it is probably the evaporation issue.
My advice would be to throw it out. I know that is not what you want to hear but food poisoning from spoiled meat is even less fun than tossing out your hard work! Send us some pics so we can look at it before you do anything though!
I am going to cut into the rest of them to see what they look like. It seems like this is a combination of issues. The product smells fine, the texture is generally good, but I am going to throw them out anyway, just to be on the safe side.
@ed_orum I think that is the right thing to do, I know it must be annoying but being safe is always the best bet with dry cured food. I’d be interested to see some pics of the voids in the sausage. If you don’t want to post them here you can always email me at email@example.com.
This is one of the sticks cut open into slices. Some were whole throughout, some with small pockets, others with almost nothing inside.
@Ed_Orum I’m not sure on those, my gut actually tells me that those are voids from stuffing not rot but I still say it is safer to throw it all out.
well, there was only one way to find out so I ate some. Still alive and it tasted great. I too think it was a stuffing issue.
@ed_orum lol well nothing ventured nothing gained right? We are careful with what we recommend obviously but I would have done the same thing!
@scottwaltner i personally think we found your problem. After the ice bath you need to hang them at room temp for at least an hour. That helps to bloom the product and help set the casing as well. I think thats your issue.
There is not much to the process. After I combine the meat and spices (I have been using about 2% salt with cure # 2 @ 1 teaspoon per 5lbs of meat) then stuff it into natural hog casings, I put it in the basement to hang for abut 6 weeks. The humidity is low, so it dries out about half it s weight by then, maybe a little bit less.
Then we eat it. I have only had one hollow batch so far and i think that may be the stuffing issue or maybe the very low humidity combined with temps of around 42 degrees. The good batches came out when the humidity was a little higher and the temperature stayed around 58 degrees.
@jonathon thanks man
@lamurscrappy I did not, I put it in the fridge as soon as I water bathed it. The casings were pre stuck
Thanks: I see for hams they call soaking for3-5 days brining and the bacon recipe calls it pickling. Both mean the same? Thanks for the help
@scottwaltner Your meat block and smoking schedule sound fine so it doesn’t appear to be that. You say you water bathed them, was it ice water? Also what @RickHeb said is true, they need to sit out at room temp for an hour after the ice bath and then sit in the cooler overnight befire vacuum packing them.
Last thing, were your fibrous casings pre-stuck? If they werent this very well could happen?