Family Made Salami
The story behind these beautiful slices of craft salami, made by an Australian family.
Winter 2020, while the world was paused to stop the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Snowy Valleys region where I live was recovering slowly from the black summer bushfires. We were grateful that the virus did not get near us after what we all had been through. In the region where we were, things were doing well, restrictions were not so severe, people could keep working and families could keep seeing each other. I was starting to build up my food photography portfolio and collecting knowledge about slow food, and there was no time to lose. I had just launched my blog... and this is when our friend Jess invited us to Adelong for a visit while her family was doing their annual salami making. So we went for a drive, brought a camera and captured the action of the meat mincing and then the mixing with spices. We could not stay the whole day and missed some of the steps like the cutting of the pig and filling in the skin casings. But my sensitive heart with raw meat was happy enough and we later had the chance to go back and see their mouldy evolution while the salamis were hanging. Yes, salami is a fermented sausage.
Pork and spices preparation for salamis • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020
Jess' mother was surprised that I never experienced a salami making event like this before. Québec is renowned for its pork farming but not as much for crafting cured meat of that style. Jess' family grow pastured beef but they sourced the pig locally for their salami making. Her husband Mick and brother Luke first started making salami about 10 years ago. Originally, it was self taught but apparently the first year was such a disaster that not even the dogs would eat it (according to Jess) but there is a contest that it was still edible (according to Luke). So they went to a salami making class in Bright and they have been improving ever since. They have a consistent base recipe (big secret!) but have added other spices occasionally like chilli and fennel. They usually use real skins (but that year also tried plant based casing), soaked in wine and after having to throw out a whole batch two years ago, they added a mould inoculator to ensure the right mould grows. If the wrong mould grows, that's not good. Every June long weekend, family and friends gather to chop, mince and stuff the salami. They come with their kids, who tend to run around, light fires and camp. Sunday is usually a tidy up and making sausages with the left over pork meat as well. The salamis are brought to the farm to hang in the meat house and then it's time to wait for the fermenting process and for the mould to grow!
Filled salamis are hung in a dark and cool outdoor shed for 8 to 10 weeks, time depending on winter weather conditions. If the temperature rises above 15C, they need to be taken in and kept cold in the fridge. When the salami is ready to eat, the skin is taken off and then it's sealed in cryovac. I've never seen salami covered with the white mould before and thought the texture and colour contrast really looked stunning in photos. Knowing that my husband, that Jess and her brothers knew since high school, is a salami fan, she generously gave us some to take home. It was very tasty and seemed more meaty than fat to me, nothing like any commercial varieties. We enjoyed them with homemade bread and zucchinis pickles (inspired by a recipe that Jess also taught me when I attended her pickling workshop a while ago). I promised I'd send her a selection of the best pics and make a little article on my blog and here it is! The next adventure Jess offered me to do is to make cheese curds with their cow milk so that's exciting and I really look forward to experience some cheese making for the first time!
Sweet and salty crafty food for lunch • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020