Dextrose- How Much? A Tutorial For Italian Salami

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Epic Pitmaster
Original poster
Staff member
OTBS Member
Apr 27, 2017
South Louisiana-Yes, it is HOT
I am posting this thread as a conglomeration of everything I have read/studied/learned (through a lot of trial and error) since diving off into this hobby with a passion 4 years ago. This is for a traditional Italian style salami with no noticeable tang using a starter culture. Tangy American and northern European style salami are much easier (with the exception of Hungarian which uses no sugars and are dried in cold 37*F conditions).

So first-here is a rule of thumb from one of the best Authorities on the subject-Fidel Toldra': 0.3 grams of dextrose/Kg. meat will lower the pH by 0.1 point. I have independently confirmed this. This is the starting point for all my salami making when figuring out the amount of sugars to add.

The second rule is that you should use at least two different sugars, a fast and a slow ferment sugar. I like dextrose and sucrose (table sugar) combo in a 1/3 dextrose 2/3 sucrose ratio. You want to add the fast ferment sugar so the bacteria create a slight but rapid pH drop to around pH 5.5 as this will shock the bad bacteria and stall their growth allowing the good bacteria to power past them in large numbers creating competitive exclusion. The slow ferment sugar will take time to create more acid and give the flavor forming bacteria more time to do their job reducing nitrates and breaking down proteins and fats (flavor creation). These bacteria perform better with the pH above 5.0

Slow ferment target pH is under 5.3 and above 5.0. At pH 5.2 gelification of the denatured proteins will occur giving you a firm salami.

If you have reached your pH target and feel that fermentation could continue, you can lower the temperature in the chamber to 47-53*F. This will lower the core temp. of the salami below 53*F and fermentation will slow to a crawl to allow the salami to dry further and slow the bacteria even more. Most strains of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus bacteria can not ferment sugars once the water activity drops to 0.95 (some can ferment to Aw 0.93). That corresponds to a weight loss of roughly 15-18%; so when your salami have reached that loss of water you can then raise the temp. to 55-57*F to allow the staph (flavor forming) bacteria to continue at a faster pace. Also, as the proteins and fats breakdown, one of the by-products is ammonia which is slightly basic. This will tend to raise the pH slightly as the salami dries with age.

There are other factors which will either enhance or hinder lactic acid production. A large diameter salami will usually achieve a lower pH than a smaller diameter salami with the same amount of sugars. Anything over 60mm and you should reduce the complex sugars by about 20% to hit target pH.

The DE (dextrose equivalent) of the complex slow ferment sugars should be calculated to determine the amount of acid the sugar combo will create.

Temperature impacts the final pH from lactic acid production. With the same amount of sugar you will achieve a lower pH at higher temperatures. If you have erred on the side of too little sugar, you can raise the fermentation temp. by 5*F and acid production will speed up. Sugar conversion is more efficient at higher temps. The inverse is also true.

Trace amounts of sulfur, manganese, magnesium, and cobalt act as catalysts for fermentation. This is why you will see trace amounts of both wine and garlic in traditional style Italian salami without the use of a starter culture. The powder a starter culture comes in have these trace elements added.

I'll add more when it comes to me.....
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Looking through my notes, whenever I have used a culture that contains Pediococcus Acidilactici Bacteria, I reduce the sugars to 0.25g/kg. to lower the pH by 0.1 point. This bacteria is a SUPER FAST fermentation culture and is extremely efficient at converting sugars to Lactic acid.

Cultures would be Flavor of Italy, B-LC-007, F-LC, and the Ultra super fast culture LHP among others.
If initial pH of the meat is around 5.75; I have found that 2g./kg. of sugars will get the pH below 5.3 and above pH5.0 with a starter culture that does not contain Pediococcus Acidilactici. I use either T-SPX or SM-194. If you add wine or citrus peel, you will need less sugars.
For some northern Italian salami, the pH never drops below 5.2. This is intentional in order to prevent gellification of the salt soluble proteins. Peimonte salami is noted for its pillowy soft texture and this is one reason why. Also due to the ratio of fats chosen with both cheek, throat and belly fat used to enhance the soft texture.

So, having said that, this is why the amout of sugar used matters when going for authentic Italian salami styles.
Love this thread, thx!
I have had enough over fermentation happen with salamis where finally I said - "ENOUGH" and did some serious R&D with sugars. Now I have a good baseline to work off of. Main thing to remember is Total sugars! You must account for all of it in your ingredients. A lot of the time I don't add any sugars when using pepper powders (not black pepper), wine and/or citrus peel.

My Calabrian Sopressatta recipe-no added sugars.
Spanish Chorizo recipe-no added sugars
Campania Salami-no added sugar.

A lot of the rest of the recipes I am using less than 2g./kgs....and I am measuring the pH of the meat to determine how much I need.
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So first-here is a rule of thumb from one of the best Authorities on the subject-Fidel Toldra': 0.3 grams of dextrose will lower the pH by 0.1 point. I have independently confirmed this. This is the starting point for all my salami making when figuring out the amount of sugars to add.

I assume that's 0.3 grams per kg of meat?
"The amount of sugar (if used) is usually small (0.1-0.3%), just enough to provide enough acidity to protect the meat against spoilage bacteria in the initial stages of the process."

The Art of Making Fermented Sausages- Marianski; Chapter 9, Slow Fermented Sausages; page 124 (Sugar.)

Flipping through the book tonight and found this S SCBBQ ....thought you might like to see it.
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