What is Fermento?

Have you ever wondered what gives sausages the piquant flavor and the aroma that appeals to meat lovers? It’s actually fermento!

This ingredient is also known as ‘the sausage maker.’ If you’re making your own sausages, you need to know what fermento is and why you should incorporate it in your sausage.

Fermento is a fermentation starter used in the preparation process of fermenting semi-dry cured products, mainly sausages. What’s more, it’s one of the key ingredients that gives sausages the familiar tangy flavor. Fermento is dairy-based and is typically used for summer sausages.

This guide will explain what fermento is, what it’s made from, and exactly how you should use it.

small pile of fermento

What’s in Fermento?

Fermento is usually produced and sold in the form of a powder. It’s a dairy-based starter culture, and its main ingredients are skim milk and cultured whey protein.

Fermento also contains a lot of other helpful properties that help minimize the growth of harmful bacteria. What’s more, it helps grow beneficial bacteria that are very important in the overall fermentation process.

Because fermento is mainly used for summer sausages, it doesn’t need to be kept in a refrigerator or any type of freezer.

It can be substituted for citric acid, Prague Powder Number 1, and dextrose monohydrate.

What Does Fermento Do?

Fermento is a starter culture (similar to Bactoferm) used in the fermentation process of drying and smoking sausages because it works almost instantly.

Not only does it immediately give off the tangy smell when it’s used, but it also kickstarts the starter culture process and makes the whole process faster. So once you place fermento in your mixture, you can immediately start smoking and drying sausages.

Fermento is used because it minimizes the curing time in the fermentation process. It usually takes at least three months to produce quality sausages, but if you use fermento, you can speed up this process significantly.

container of sausage maker fermento

That’s one of the main reasons fermento is so popular among people who produce meat products.

Fermento is actually a starter culture itself. In other words, it helps produce lactic acid and beneficial bacteria, which are vital in the process of meat fermentation.

Some of the properties these good bacteria contain can influence the meat’s taste, smell, and color.

Most importantly, it makes the products safe to consume by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.

What Types of Sausage is Fermento Used For?

Fermento is best paired with summer sausages. Summer sausage refers to any type of sausage that doesn’t require refrigeration until they are opened.

It also lasts longer due to its low PH levels and gradual bacterial increase.

These types of sausages are usually made from a mix of beef, venison, and pork. Summer sausages have a tangy flavor thanks to the blend of ingredients used – curing salt, garlic salt, mustard seeds, and sometimes even sugar.

Therefore, these sausages are referred to as fermented sausages, and they can be smoked or dried.

Some summer sausages usually made with fermento are longaniza, cervelat, Goteborg, chistorra, chorizo salchichón, and fuet.

different types of sausage hanging dry curing

The finest quality summer sausages are produced in Spain.

Fermento is mainly used to produce semi-dry and traditional dry-cured sausages, which are the two basic types of fermented sausages. The main difference between these two types is the amount of moisture they lose during the curing process.

Semi-dry sausages are in the middle range between dry and fresh sausages, and they are only partly smoked. Semi-dry sausages are usually made from beef.

Dry-cured sausages generally aren’t cooked but are produced by being exposed to air and room temperature, which makes them gather yeasts and other cultures that help with the fermentation process. Pork is usually the meat of choice to produce dry-cured sausages.

Apart from meat, all fermented sausages usually contain fat, vital bacterial culture, different types of salt, spices, sugar, nitrite, and other helpful ingredients.

How Much Fermento Should I Use?

It’s generally advised to take one ounce of Fermento for every two pounds of meat or 28 grams for every 0.90 kilograms of meat.

This means that you should use around 3% fermento for the amount of meat. However, bear in mind that these metrics can vary depending on the type of meat that the fermento is used for.

It is, however, essential to note that you shouldn’t go over 6 lbs. for every 100 lbs. of meat or 2.73 kilograms of fermento for every 45 kilograms of meat.

In fact, 5 lbs., or 2.27 kilograms of fermento, will process approximately 160 lbs., or 72.6 kilograms, of meat.

When it comes to the packaging, you can usually find between 1 oz. to 50 lbs. of fermento on the market, but this usually depends on the supplier.

large bucket of sausage maker fermento

In terms of pricing, it also depends on where you purchase the fermento. These days, fermento is much more popular, so it’s much easier to get a hold of.

In Summary

The process of drying and smoking sausages is very delicate, and it can take up to a couple of months to complete. Thankfully, fermento has made the fermentation process of sausages and other meat products much easier.

There are plenty of reasons why you should start using fermento for your sausages. First, it helps produce beneficial bacteria and minimizes the growth of harmful ones. Secondly, it speeds up the curing process and the overall fermentation of the meat. And last but not least, it gives sausages the familiar tangy smell that appeals to all meat lovers.

Now you know what fermento is, what it’s made from, and how to use it properly. All that’s left for you to do is obtain fermento and see for yourself what we are talking about.