Cured vs. Uncured Salami (A Comparison!)

Sandwiches, pizzas, different kinds of pasta, salads, you name it, salami is one of the most popular deli sausages. There are various kinds available, and although it’s usually cured, you might’ve noticed salami that’s labeled as ‘uncured.’

It’s impossible to say one beats the other in the great battle of cured vs. uncured salami. Cured and uncured salami are, in fact, very similar and should be treated the same way. However, some nuances set them apart.

The crucial difference between cured and uncured salami lies in the origin of preservatives. Cured salami contains chemical preservatives, while the uncured variety contains natural ones.

If you’re interested in learning the similarities and differences between the two, you’ve come to the right place. This article will dive into the salami world and discuss what distinguishes one from the other.

cured vs uncured salami

What Is Cured Salami?

Curing is the process of preserving food, in this case, meat, by adding salt, nitrates, nitrites, or sugar to it. The purpose of this is to draw out the moisture from the meat, which inhibits harmful bacteria growth and keeps it fresh. Unfortunately, curing also makes the meat saltier and changes its color.

A typical, cured salami consists of pork meat that has been fermented and air-dried. Cured salami has a long shelf-life, strong, tangy flavor, is pink/red, and is ready to eat right away.

package of cured salami

What Is Uncured Salami?

Uncured salami is actually cured salami. Yes, you’ve read it right.

Uncured salami is salami that’s been cured with salt or other natural agents. Per USDA regulations, salami is ‘cured’ when chemical preservatives such as nitrates or nitrites are used. Also according to the USDA, natural agents don’t count.

In uncured salami, salt, celery powder or juice, and beetroot powder are used to preserve it. Uncured salami is also ready to eat right away.

The term ‘uncured salami’ is often misleading and results from the meat industry’s marketing practices. People who want to stay away from nitrates and nitrites are more likely to buy products with this type of labeling.

However, the truth is uncured salami can contain just as many nitrates as the cured version. They are simply different in origin.

package of uncured naturally cured salami

Cured vs. Uncured Salami: How Are They Similar?

As previously mentioned, there’s no ‘uncured’ salami. The most significant difference is that the uncured version is cured with natural agents instead of chemical preservatives.

Other than that, cured and ‘uncured’ salami are remarkably similar:

  • Both have a recognizable flavor.
  • Both are ready to eat without cooking.
  • Both are cured.
  • Both are shelf-stable if not opened.
  • Both need to be kept in the refrigerator after opening.
  • Both are usually made of pork.

Cured vs. Uncured Salami: How Are They Different?

Now that we’ve established its similarities, let’s look at the differences:

 Cured SalamiUncured Salami
PreservationPreserved with chemical additivesPreserved with natural substances
ColorDeeper color, pink or redPale color, usually light pink
FlavorIntense flavor due to preservativesLighter flavor
StorageShelf-stableAlthough also shelf-stable, it lasts less than the cured version
SaltUsually contains less salt due to preservativesUsually contains more salt due to the lack of chemical preservatives

Is Uncured Salami Safe to Eat?

 ‘Uncured’ salami is perfectly safe to eat, and you don’t have to cook it before eating.

As mentioned previously, the most significant difference between cured and uncured salami is its preservative origins. In cured salami, chemical additives like nitrates and nitrites are used for preservation purposes. In uncured salami, natural ingredients are used to preserve it.

Therefore, the term ‘uncured salami’ can be very misleading. The curing process happens with the addition of natural ingredients, too.

Is Uncured Salami Healthy?

People will often reach for products advertised as ‘natural’ when trying to get away from processed meat. However, just because it’s ‘natural’ doesn’t mean that it can’t harm your health.

For example, uncured salami can contain even more salt and nitrates than the cured version.

Essentially, it depends on your preferences. Of course, preservatives will be there either way, but you can choose if you prefer chemicals or products of natural origin.

three uncured salami stacked on cutting board with slices next to it

Health Benefits of Salami

Like other foods, salami has its positive and negative sides. Let’s check out the positive ones:

Rich in B vitamins. Salami has a significant amount of B vitamins. These vitamins are responsible for forming red blood cells, producing energy, and cognitive development.

Sodium. This can be a benefit and a drawback at the same time, depending on your usual diet. Many studies have shown that the lack of salt in nutrition can negatively impact overall health. However, if you use whole foods in your diet, you likely lack salt, which is why small amounts of salami can be beneficial.

Good source of protein. Salami contains around 23 grams of protein per 100 grams, making it an excellent protein source.

Selenium, zinc, phosphorus. Selenium helps reduce inflammation, prevents mental decline, and positively affects the immune system. Zinc supports your immune system and metabolism to function correctly. Phosphorus is essential for bones and teeth and is a great energy source.

Health Concerns of Salami

Salami may have its benefits, but there are some health concerns related to salami, too. They include:

Contains a high level of fat. Since salami is made of pork, and pork is rich in fat, salami can lead to high cholesterol levels. High cholesterol can cause clogged arteries and put you at risk of developing heart disease.

Sodium. Although sodium was covered in the previous section, too much can be a health concern, too.

Pathogens. Even though it’s exceedingly rare, you’re at risk of bacterial infection whenever you’re eating cured or fermented meat. In addition, if the salami wasn’t properly prepared, food poisoning may also be a potential risk.

In Summary

In the battle of cured vs. uncured salami, there’s no winner. Both are cured, to some extent.

Although there are subtle differences in taste and shelf life, the most significant difference is in the origin of the preservatives. Cured salami contains chemical preservatives, while the ‘uncured’ version contains natural ones. The choice is yours!