Salami is an all-time favorite in the lunch and deli meats category. It’s made with natural ingredients and contains plenty of good fats.
However, because it’s not cooked but cured and fermented, natural processes change salami’s appearance. More specifically, I’m talking about the white fuzzy mold on salami.
Fuzzy mold or a white powdery residue growing on salami is a specific type of edible penicillin-based mold. It’s not only safe for consumption but also adds to the flavor of the salami. Here’s everything you need to know about it.
White Fuzzy Mold on Salami: What Is It?
When you hear that the white substance on their salami is mold, it’s natural to be a little taken aback. However, we’ve learned that the presence of mold on our food means it’s time to get rid of it.
When you discover mold on your bread, you don’t think to yourself, ‘Yummy!’ Instead, you immediately throw it out. However, with some cured sausage and specific types of cheeses, mold is not only tolerated but preferred.
The white fuzzy mold on salami is called Penicillium nalgiovense, one of several types of penicillin-based molds. Composition-wise, it’s like the white mold found on Camembert cheese.
The mold on salami is an entirely natural occurrence caused by the fermentation process. However, it’s also important to point out that artisanal salami white mold has its own flora and flavor, adding to the complexity of the flavor profile.
Furthermore, the quantity and the shape of the mold growth may not always look the same. For example, some sausages might be covered in white mold entirely, and others might have a few spots here and there.
Contrary to popular belief, if the salami doesn’t have any white mold on its surface, then it’s likely something went wrong during the fermentation process.
What’s the Purpose of the White Mold on Salami?
In short, the purpose of white fuzzy mold on salami is to protect it from the development of harmful mold and bad bacteria. Most salami manufacturers use natural casings, which require some preparation before the stuffing process.
The casings are inoculated by soaking them in a unique solution. Only then are the casings stuffed. After that, the freshly stuffed salami is placed into a temperature-controlled environment where the fermentation process takes place.
These rooms feature 100% humidity and are set around 75° F. Naturally, this is not the optimal way to store meat but is the perfect condition to ferment the salami. Once the process starts, lactic acid in the starter culture consumes sugar that is present in the salami recipe.
As a result, the pH levels in the meat go below 5.0, which is considered safe. The fermentation process destroys all the harmful bacteria, and at the same time, creates a fuzzy white mold.
As a result, most salami sausages have a luscious signature white cover on their exterior.
Once the fermentation process is completed, the salami is moved to a drying room. Interestingly, the white mold continues to grow throughout the drying process.
This is where the mold does what it’s meant to do, as it protects the salami from any harmful elements that try to penetrate its exterior.
So, in a nutshell, the purpose of white mold on salami is essential and is a necessary part of the production process.
Is the Mold on Salami Always White?
In 2015, scientists discovered a new species of mold on Italian salami. They examined the already produced salami sausages containing the safe Penicillin nalgiovense mold and found a coexisting species.
They’ve aptly named it Penicillium salamii and concluded that it’s perfectly safe for humans to eat. This new type of mold is not white, though, but light green.
Can You Eat the White Mold on Salami?
The powdery cover on the salami has a vital role and is perfectly safe for human consumption. It adds a unique flavor and texture to the salami giving it depth and complexity.
What happens, though, if the mold isn’t white but has a greyish hue or an entirely different color?
Usually, slight discolorations in the white aren’t a cause for concern. The mold can feature a grey or yellowish hue and still be completely natural and safe.
However, if the mold is brown, blue, or even black, you shouldn’t eat the salami. Darker hues may mean an error during the preparation or fermentation process that led to the development of unsafe mold.
Does the White Mold Require Special Handling?
In the same way that white mold is safe to eat, it’s also perfectly safe to handle with your hands. So, there’s no need to worry whether you’ll remove too much when you’re cutting the salami, either.
Even if you touch your face with fingers coated in white mold, it shouldn’t be a cause for concern, and there’s no need to hurry to remove it.
However, once you cut into the salami, make sure to place it in the fridge for storage, but sure that it has enough airflow because the mold might begin to die.
Once the mold dies, you may encounter a bad aroma and even worse flavor.
How Do You Remove White Mold From Salami?
Although the white fuzzy mold on salami is safe and can add flavor depth, not everyone will enjoy eating it.
The easiest way to avoid consuming the mold is to remove the salami casing and only eat the inside. Still, that might not be the solution some are searching for.
Removing the casing might be a bit messy, and pieces of salami can remain stuck to it. The alternative solution is to mix some distilled water, a few drops of apple cider vinegar, and some salt. Then, all you need to do is wipe the salami casings down until the white mold is gone.
Keep in mind, though, once you remove the mold, you’re also removing its natural protection, and it may go bad faster.
So, to prolong the salami’s natural shelf life, you could only remove the white mold from cut pieces of salami instead and leave the rest of it as is.
The white fuzzy mold on salami is there to serve a vital purpose and is safe to eat. In fact, the white mold is what makes salami recognizable when you’re in the supermarket or at a deli.
The lush white mold cover signifies that the fermentation was successful and that all the ingredients did what they were supposed to.
It also means that your salami can be stored longer and will continue to be delicious. However, while some new edible salami molds have been discovered, there are colors you don’t want to see on your salami. So, make sure to be on the lookout just in case.