You often find uncured salami on the shelves of your local supermarkets. The “uncured” part of the label may catch your attention because, as most people know, salami is supposed to be cured. So, what does uncured salami mean?
Contrary to popular belief, uncured salami is cured, too. Uncured salami is salami that was treated with agents of natural origin. It’s all in the manufacturing process.
Read on to learn more about uncured salami, including how it’s processed, ingredients used, and shelf life. I’ll also recommend a few recipes involving uncured salami.
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When Salami Is Uncured, What Does That Mean?
Salami is a type of cured pork sausage fermented and dried, so it can be surprising to see ‘uncured’ salami on store shelves.
The word “uncured” is used to label salami that doesn’t contain nitrates or nitrites. However, this isn’t entirely true. When making uncured salami, celery juice, celery powder, and beetroot powder are used. These ingredients turn into nitrates and nitrites and preserve the meat.
The essential difference between cured and uncured salami isn’t in the presence of preservatives since both contain them. Instead, it’s in the preservatives’ origins. Cured salami contains chemical preservatives, and uncured salami has natural ones.
According to USDA guidelines, meat must be labeled ‘cured’ when it contains chemical preservatives. However, the guidelines do not include natural preservatives in its curation definition, allowing producers leeway to mark products “uncured,” even though it’s technically incorrect.
Unfortunately, marketing practices for ‘uncured’ salami companies can be misleading. Those who want to avoid processed meat may buy uncured salami, thinking they’re avoiding preservatives.
Although preservatives are of natural origin, uncured salami often contains higher amounts of salt, nitrates, and nitrites than its cured version.
How Long Does Uncured Salami Last?
The addition of natural preservatives to uncured salami gives it similar properties to its cured counterpart.
When it comes to the uncured salami shelf life, it’s very much like the shelf life of cured salami. Both are considered ‘dry sausages,’ and according to USDA recommendations, they can be kept at room temperature for six weeks if unopened.
If you want to preserve their flavor and texture, you can put them in the fridge. In that case, unopened dry sausages can last indefinitely.
Once you open them, though, you should place dry sausages in the fridge. They can be kept in the refrigerator for three weeks.
If you’ve purchased pre-cut uncured salami, the guidelines are slightly different. There’s a more significant risk of bacteria growth when the meat is cut, so pre-cut uncured salami can’t be kept as long.
Generally, if you haven’t opened the package yet, you can keep it in the fridge for two weeks. Once you open it, it stays fresh for three to five days.
Some claim that uncured salami shelf life is a bit shorter because of the addition of natural preservatives instead of chemical ones. However, chemical preservatives don’t necessarily keep salami any fresher than natural ones.
Either way, always pay attention to the expiration dates stated on the package and keep your eyes open for any signs of spoilage. Any change in smell and texture may be an indicator that it’s gone bad.
When it comes to color, uncured salami is paler than its cured version. If you notice it’s becoming grey, brown, or black, you should discard it.
How to Eat Uncured Salami
The ingredients added to uncured salami keep it safe from harmful bacteria. Therefore, uncured salami is perfectly safe to consume.
Since it contains natural preservative agents, uncured salami can be used in the same way as its cured version. You don’t have to cook uncured salami; you can eat it raw.
Whether it’s in sandwiches, pasta, pizza, or a part of a charcuterie board, salami is an excellent addition to your dishes.
Recipe Ideas Using Salami
Do you need some salami inspiration? Check out the recipes below for your next salami-filled meal.
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ lb. of quality salami, diced
- 1 ½ lb. bucatini (perciatelli)
- Six egg yolks
- ½ cup of grated pecorino cheese for the dish, plus a bit more for decoration
- Heat half of the olive oil in a large skillet or a pan.
- Add salami and cook it at low temperature for about 20 minutes, until the salami is tender and the fat is rendered. Make sure to stir occasionally.
- Cook the bucatini until al dente in a large pot. Drain and save 1 ½ cups of pasta water.
- Whisk the yolks with ½ of pecorino and the remaining olive oil.
- Add the bucatini and ½ cup of pasta water to salami and cook on moderate heat for about two minutes.
- Remove the skillet/pan from the heat and add the yolk mixture and the remaining one cup of pasta water.
- Mix pasta until it’s creamy.
- Add salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Salami and Scrambled Eggs
- ¼ canola oil
- One thinly sliced onion
- 10 oz. of uncured (Genoa) salami cut into strips.
- Four cups of torn watercress or baby arugula
- A dozen eggs
- Rye toast
- Heat the canola oil in a skillet or a pan.
- Add the onion and cook at medium-high heat for about five minutes.
- Add the salami strips and cook until brown, about two minutes.
- Add the watercress/arugula and cook for about one minute.
- Add the eggs, salt, and pepper. Cook the eggs for about two minutes until they are set. Depending on how you like the eggs, you can cook them a bit longer.
- Serve the mixture on a plate with rye toast.
Uncured salami means that the salami contains natural preservatives instead of chemical ones. According to USDA regulations, it’s labeled “uncured” because it doesn’t contain chemical preservatives.
Regardless of the label, uncured salami is technically “cured,” and it’s safe to eat without cooking. However, like other types of cured sausage, it contains high levels of salt.
So, use moderation when incorporating it into your diet.