Dry Curing fermentation and pH.

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Mmmm Meat

Meat Mopper
Original poster
SMF Premier Member
Feb 6, 2021
So after a couple of (covid) years enjoying my last 5 batches of salami, I'd been hoping to get back into dry curing a few more batches. I'd forgotten a bit of the process so I re-read Marianski again and started collecting ingredients.

My son killed a Blacktailed Deer (his first) this year (I ate my tag). I butchered the animal and made a buch of vac. sealed bags of grind expressly for the purpose of making Salami. Last weekend I did a pork/pork fat/venison mix with 2.5% salt, innoculated it with brand new TSPX and Mold 600. I added 0.2% sucrose and 50 ml of red wine in a nine pound mix, which is nearing twice my normal production. Not surprisingly, pH wasn't super low on first test - something like 5.6

I put it in my curing chamber at 68 degrees, but the location of the chamber is a warm spot in the house. The chubs fermented somewhere around 72 - 75 degrees. I couldn't get the temp lower. 72 hours later, my test meat collected from the stuffer's horn that had been along for the ride had a pretty significant range of pH - 5.28 in the middle of the meat mass, all the way up to pH 5.41 in the first 1/2 inch of the test meat. Marianski provides US standards for maximum temp/time/pH that had me watching the clock. Once I was pushing that limit for 75ish degrees at 78 hours, I tested pH again and found no significant change. I put the chubs in the curing chamber at 56 degrees and have re-tested the sample for the last two days.

As expected, there's been almost no change in pH at 56 degrees in the last two days. I'm not ready to pull the plug on this batch because it's
a pH of .1 +/- above standards. They're firming up nicely from the cure. I'm just scratching my head wondering why I didn't get a better pH drop on initial fermentation. Variation from my standard mixes that typically dropped pH near or below pH 5 in the past were:

- a reduction in salt from 3% to 2.5%
- omitted 0.1 - 0.2 % Fructose
- wine addition was roughly 60% of normal

I can't imagine that the TSPX from Butcher Packer is bad, though I could be wrong. It was vac sealed and frozen the moment UPS dropped it on my door step.

Does anybody have ideas or comments on possible reasons why pH didn't drop much below 5.3?


If the packet of culture was loose, then Chr. Hansen claims the bacteria are still viable.

Couple of things...

How long did the culture rehydrate in distilled water? Or did you add the dry culture directly to the mince?
Are you 100% certain you used distilled water?
TSPX is sucrose positive so the cullture can ferment sucrose...no problem there....
Did you test the initial pH of the mince prior to fermentation?
What was the diameter of the chubs?

The larger addition of wine may have affected the viability of the culture due to the alcohol...but, wine is acidic and you should have a pH drop of 0.25-0.3 just from the acid in the wine...what variety wine did you use?
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Did you put the sucrose in a spice grinder to pulverize into a very fie powder for an even distribution? Or did you just add the sugar as is? This could explain the uneven pH readings...
stupid question...but are you 100% CERTAIN you did add the sugar? And are you 100% certain you used distilled water? Are you 100% certain you added the culture? I ask because I have screwed up on all of these when I first started!
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Hmm, not sure what order to answer those questions.

- yes, distilled H2O used for culture. Got that started at about 10:00 PM the night before, which is what 2Guys and a Cooler recommended.

- I used powdered sucrose that I'd purchased previously - It's super fine powder. I am absolutely sure that I added this.

- I did a pork/pork fat/venison mix with 2.5% salt (20% venison, 25% fat) wtih garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, and Calabrian Pepper Powder. I mixed all those spices together in a bowl so that they appeared homogeneous.

- One of the issues with the nine pound mix was that my stuffer is a 5 lb stuffer so somehwere along the way I had to split the grind in half. I did that prior to mixing, since my stand mixer won't handle that amount of meat either.

I mixed the first half of the grind while the other half was in the cooler. I added roughly half the culture and half the spices to that first half then swapped that out with the other half of the mix and innoculated that one while it mixed. Once I got that second half innoculated and spiced, I realized I'd forgotten to add half the wine in the first mix.....

The most logical solution I could come up with was to add all of the 50ml of red wine to the second half, (pinot I believe) (and now that I think of it, that was just roughly 60% of the wine per meat weight that I have used in the past, which were typically 5 lb mixes). Once mixing was complete (nearly 10 minutes for each half), split each of those two halves of the mix in half and swap out those quarter mixes between the two bowls so that each half now had 50% of the mix with the wine. I remixed each of those bowls for another 4 - 5 minutes, which in my mind, should have been plenty of time to get a homogeneous mix in both mix halves.

Starting pH of the mix was 5.66. I stuffed the mix into 2" collagen casings that I purchased from The Sausage Maker website.

This is the eleventh time I've made salami. Even though it had been a year-and-a-half since my last salami run, it felt like second nature on how to manage all the variables and potential problems. I intentionally went light on sucrose and wine since my previous mixes tended to get to pH of 4.8 very quickly. I was hoping to develop a bit more flavor during a longer ferment.
- yes, distilled H2O used for culture. Got that started at about 10:00 PM the night before, which is what 2Guys and a Cooler recommended.
For the mold culture, yes, start that the night before. But the bacteria culture max. soak time is 30 minutes, then it needs to be mixed into the meat but 20 minutes is better though. If you mixed the bacteria culture the night before, then this is likely the reason for your failed fermentation.
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Thanks. Hope you had a merry Christmas
After reviewing (in my head) the order of events and how they played out, I've decided that I was mistaken about the when I prepared the mold and TSPX (the hazards of getting old).

I hydrated the mold 600 the evening prior after watching the 2guys Soppressatta video that evening. I wasn't doing sopressatta but he is very clear in his steps in that video so it's a great refresher. Re-hydrating the mold 600 is the very first step he descibes in that video and I'm positive that is what I did the night, just after reviewing the vid.

I mixed up the TSPX, measured out the wine and all the ingredients the next day once all the meat and fat had been cut into 2 inch cubes and returned to the fridge/freezer - just before the grind.

That brings me back to the original problem, one that will likely never be solved. I think I might test the tspx on a a bit of ground beef and follow the pH over the next three days. I'll at least be sure that the TSPX is viable before I make my next batch.

Next mix though, I'm going back to using both dextrose and sucrose and make sure the added wine is the correct volume.
If granules in the package of TSPX are still loose, then odds are that the bacteria are still viable. But I look forward to your test.

One other possibility is residual antibiotics in the meat or some other chemical used during packaging. This has caused some failed fermentations that people have reported over at Marianski's site.
I never got around to testing the T-SPX. I made a batch of Soppressata last weekend making sure that I had enough Dextrose/Sucrose plus some red wine. This batch went from pH 5.8 to 5.26 in 48 hours of fermentation.

As I was recording my ingredients for this batch, it occured to me that I may have not used enough T-SPX in the last batch. I probably should have used a full tsp for the 9 pound mix - I'm pretty sure I only used a 1/2 tsp, which could easily have contributed to the marginal pH drop. Also, I'm thinking I was a bit conservative on the addtion of Dextrose/Sucrose in that batch. Those two things combined are the likely culprits for my problems previously.

Thanks Inda for your input.

What inda said.

I keep my fermentation zip lock freezer and have had some for over 2 years and still good. If they get clumpy I toss em.
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