Fermento is a starter culture that’s used in the process of fermenting semi-dry cured sausages.
It’s a beneficial ingredient due to its ability to speed up the curing process, preserve meat, and give it the traditional tangy flavor.
Fermento also helps minimize the spread of harmful bacteria while simultaneously promoting the growth of lactic acid and beneficial bacteria.
While fermento is a popular product due to its advantageous properties, it can sometimes be difficult to obtain. If you can’t use fermento for your products, there are ingredients you can use instead. These substitutes include citric acid, Prague powder number 1, dextrose monohydrate, and buttermilk powder.
In this guide, I’ll go through why each of these ingredients can serve as a fermento substitute and why you could use them in the fermentation process of sausages.
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What Makes for a Good Fermento Substitute?
As mentioned, fermento helps speed up the fermentation process, making sausages instantly ready for drying and smoking.
It also produces a tangy flavor and piquant aroma. But, most importantly, fermento makes sausages safe to consume by reducing the growth and spread of unsafe bacteria.
Therefore, an excellent fermento substitute should also give sausages the same familiar tangy taste while promoting beneficial bacteria necessary for the healthy fermentation process.
It’s also worth mentioning that fermento is a dairy-based product, which means its main ingredient is skim milk or non-fat dried milk. So, it’s generally advisable to use alternatives that can replace the dairy in the product, at least to some extent.
Recommended Fermento Alternatives to Try
There are four options you can choose to replace fermento for the process of production and fermentation of sausages:
- Citric acid
- Prague powder number 1
- Dextrose monohydrate
- Buttermilk powder
Let’s go over why each of these alternatives is worth trying and why you could use them in the sausage fermentation process.
Citric acid is found in citrus fruit, such as lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, etc. It’s the main ingredient responsible for the sour or acidic flavor.
You can also find citric acid in other fruit, like strawberries, pineapples, cranberries, cherries, and similar, but in smaller amounts.
This food additive comes with many health benefits; it metabolizes your energy and improves nutrient absorption. It also has beneficial properties that can replace a lot of chemicals.
What’s more, when you preserve meat with citric acid, you help slow down the growth of harmful bacteria.
To use citric acid for sausage fermentation, mix it with water. It’s generally advised to use 2 oz. of citric acid per 1 qt. of water.
Citric acid can be replaced with other acid types, such as ascorbic acid, tartaric acid, fumaric acid, malic acid, etc. It can also be replaced with other substances, such as vitamin C powder, alum powder, potassium sorbate, calcium chloride, etc.
Even apple cider vinegar, pepper seasoning, and garlic salt can replace citric acid.
Due to its availability, it’s also much cheaper than fermento.
Prague Powder Number 1
Prague powder number 1, also known as Insta Cure 1, is made from 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% salt.
This powder formula is used for the curing process of meat that needs to be cooked. Therefore, it’s best suited for smoked sausages, bacon, ham, jerky, fish, pastrami, and similar.
Prague powder number 1 is a decent substitute for meat curing. Its pink hue and salty and smoky flavor are ideal for producing sausages.
In addition, this ingredient is an excellent alternative to fermento because it’s used to prevent food poisoning.
Apart from minimizing the risk of food poisoning, this powder can help preserve the meat and enhance the taste. It can even influence the meat’s color.
To incorporate this ingredient in your products, you should use one level tsp for every 5 lbs. of meat.
There is also Prague powder number 2, or Insta Cure 2, which is made from a combination of sodium nitrite (6.25%), salt (approximately 92.75%), and sodium nitrate (1%). However, this ingredient is best used for pepperonis, salamis, and air-dried hams.
Instead of the first two alternatives, which can replace the salty ingredients, dextrose monohydrate is used to replace sugar.
In fact, this alternative is made from corn. Due to its sweet flavor, dextrose monohydrate is a great food additive that isn’t only suitable for sweet recipes but also meat preparation.
What’s more, this ingredient is a healthier alternative to sugar, and it’s less sweet. It can replace fermento as it enhances both the quality and the flavor of fermented sausages.
Dextrose Monohydrate can be replaced with maltodextrin, fructose, corn syrup, xylitol, etc. It can also be substituted with other types of sugar, like demerara sugar, honey powder, and golden vanilla cane sugar.
Considering that fermento is essentially a dairy-based product and its main ingredient is milk, it can be easily replaced with buttermilk powder.
It’s possible to use buttermilk solids or liquid to replace fermento in the process of curing and fermenting sausages.
You can also use an equal amount of non-fat dried milk for your mixture. It will produce the same result as fermento.
If you don’t have any fermento at hand, don’t let that stop you. There are many other healthy and affordable alternatives available.
- To capture the familiar tangy flavor of your sausages, you can use citric acid or Prague powder number 1
- To incorporate a healthier alternative to sugar, you can use dextrose monohydrate
- To replace the dairy supplements of fermento, you can use plain buttermilk powder
You can always experiment with each of these flavors to see what works best for you. But, one thing is for sure – you can’t go wrong with any of these ingredients for your fermented sausages.