UMAi Dry® Casings Help You Make Dry Sausage at Home

How do UMAi Dry® casings help you craft

slow fermented traditional dry sausage — and how can we do better?

This is what we asked in our December survey. Almost 450 UMAi Dry® sausage makers responded!

Your responses set us on a clear course to formulate our new UMAi Dry® Sausage Spice Blends so that you can craft the best tasting salumi recipes ever with UMAi Dry® casings.  These blends were created by the master dry sausage maker at Spark Spices. You will find spice blends for soppressata, pepperoni and salami available our website on February 1, 2016.

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Even more important, we learned a TONS from your answers to the question:

“What do you like best about UMAi Dry® casings?”

We imagined you might like the strength, ease and no fuss nature of UMAi Dry® casings, but we heard again and again how you love recreating old family recipes and (most important of all) needing no special curing or drying chamber.

  • 157 customers told us that like the EASE of UMAi Dry® casings
  • 134 customers told us they use UMAi Dry® casings because they are NO FUSS
  • 85 customers noted that the STRENGTH of UMAi Dry® casings stood out for them
  • 28 customers love RECREATING OLD RECIPES WITHOUT FEAR

Here are a few of the great comments and stories:

“First, I love the ease of use and clear and concise instructions. Money well spent there. Then, I like the strength and use of zip-ties on a near indestructible bag.”

“The ease of use has been wonderful, they are consistently strong and do not rupture during stuffing. Their shelf life is excellent and the ability to make smaller batches that with natural casings has been a plus.”

“Using without fear, humidity levels, being able to create safely under normal refrigeration conditions. I think the products are a great idea!”

“I personally like the fact that I can recreate traditional recipes any time of the year without having to limit my production to the fall.”

“The product takes the guesswork out of drying out meat.  I don’t have to worry about humidity as much and the product is always sterile so I don’t have to worry my brother flushed it out properly. :-)”

“No fear is a big one, my schedule at home is erratic at best and my wife is a conscientious objector so for me the big one is once the casing is stuffed I can leave it in the refrigerator until the weight is right with no intervention on my side…good for me. BTW, I love the product and will be buying more.”

“The best ever, salami in your own fridge fridge, most of my friends don’t think you can make your own, I don’t have to worry about bacteria etc, it is a great idea and it absolutely works. I made five Soppressata and they were eaten very quickly.”

“Umai Dry is great. Finally you guys made something so someone can make salumi without building a fermentation chamber. Love Umai dry. Keep up the great work.”

“My dad is 80, born in Italy & taught me how to make a simple traditional sopressata & sausage dried in basements with the right environment. Everyone loves it.  We also make Copacolla & it’s too much for him to breakdown the butt.   His butcher will do it for him now & he gets the joy of watching it in his fridge anytime of year.”

“The ease of use. Especially with the zip ties being all you need to seal. Also living in the south it an almost impossible climate to use traditional casings so this makes a very distant dream a home kitchen reality. ”

Thanks to all the kind folks who took time to respond to the survey and share their thoughts and stories.  

We feel really encouraged and inspired to continue building our business on the hope we help you CREATE TRADITION AT HOME®!

Zip It!: Even Easier Dry Sausage Making

As you know, UMAi Dry® makes it possible to dry age and dry cure in your home refrigerator.  In our never-ending quest to make it easier for you to “create tradition at home,” we are always exploring new techniques for applying UMAi Dry®.

With the release of our new 32mm UMAi Dry Sausage Casing for quick drying fermented recipes such as pepperoni, saucisson sec and snack sticks, we discovered a great solution for tying off the casings.

Traditionally to tie off sausage stuffed into natural or collagen casing, you need butcher’s twine and really strong fingers. A long sausage making session, tying and tying and tying off sausage after sausage can not only leave you with sore fingers, but also with splits with the butchers’ twine starts to cut into your skin.  The twine had to be tight or the sausage hung to ferment and dry might–PLOP–fall to the floor putting all your hard work to waste.

When UMAi Dry® casing was first released, we recommended measuring off lengths of casing, then sealing them with a vacuum sealer, as we do with most UMAi Dry® applications.  After stuffing, however, sealing the end using the VacMouse® to draw out the tiny bit of air at the end of the casing seemed fiddly and wasteful.  Moreover, you still need the hang the sausage to dry, so the strong fingers and butcher’s twine were still required.

During testing various alternatives, we discovered the common zip ties (aka tie wrap or cable ties) were a far more efficient and far less strenuous way to tie off the casings.  A simple 4″ cable tie does a great job of tying off the starting end after you thread your preferred length of casing onto the stuffing horn.  It is a clean secure way to tie off the end of each sausage as you stuff it out.

The best discovery was a technique that eliminates the need for any butcher’s twine.  When stuffing, if you stuff two links, with a small space of casing in between, you can then easily hang the pair of links for fermentation.

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Here are the steps:

  1. Zip tie the starting end.
  2. Stuff out one link.
  3. Twist the end of that stuffing and zip tie it off.
  4. Leave about an inch or two centimeters of casing, then zip tie the starting point for the second link
  5. Stuff out the second link, twist off, zip tie.
  6. Leave another short span of casing and zip tie for the starting point of your next link of sausage.
  7. Cut between the ending point and starting point leaving two sausage links together.
  8. Hang the pair from the connecting point to ferment.

The photos below will give you a good idea how this works both while stuffing and when hanging to ferment.

We hope this helpful hint makes it even easier for you to experiment with fermented dry sausage making.

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Ever heard of backslop? A bit about starter cultures…

What is starter culture? A starter culture is a specific mix of micro-organisms that convert various sugars in the sausage mix into various organic acids. By doing so, the starter culture imparts a distinct flavor to the sausage, develops the color of the sausage, and preserves the sausage by creating an environment that prevents harmful bacteria from growing.  Starter cultures have one more very important function in sausage making:  the micro-organisms in the starter culture help in nitrate conversion and thereby reduce the levels of residual nitrate in the fermented dry sausages, making the product more wholesome.

Pure forms of starter cultures have not been around for very long since their production requires modern incubation and clean room equipment. The predecessor of the modern starter culture was a method called “back slopping.” Yes…, back slopping.  This is what the old timers called a process where part of the old already fermented batch of sausage was thrown back into the new mix. The already fermented product contained the necessary micro-organisms to start the fermentation of the new batch. This is also sometimes described as “spontaneous” fermentation. This form of fermentation in not utilized in industrial use in the US any longer, due to potential for contamination.

When we make dry sausages with UMAi Dry, we use the starter culture method to ensure consistent results. We recommend Bactoferm T-SPX European-style slow-fermenting starter culture because its fermentation temperature matches room temperature 65-70F. This is both convenient and matches the desired balanced not-too-tart flavor that we look for in our Italian dry salami.

Venison hard salami made with UMAi Dry casing

Venison hard salami made with UMAi Dry casing

 

 

Dry sausage made at home tips and tricks -UMAi Dry

Some basic practices that make a huge difference in texture and flavor of the finished dry sausage:

These basic practices start in the actual preparation of the meat in the very beginning and have a huge impact on the quality of the finished product almost two months later. We would like to go over these basic practices and their impact:

1. Start with cold meat and keep it cold throughout the process: This is probably the most important of all factors and affects the texture and drying of the product. In principal the temperature of the meat being ground, mixed with the cure and the stuffed into the casing determines the way the meat binds together and forms the finished sausage. The proteins in the meat need to be extracted to bind the sausage together and give it the grain and texture of dry sausage.

Grinding temperature: If the meat is too warm during grinding, the grinder will not make sharp cuts, but rather “mash” the meat giving a bologna texture, rather than firm kernels of dry salami. The meat should be preferably close to frozen during grinding to yield well defined particles.

Mixing temperature: If the meat is too warm during mixing of the cure and starter culture, the particles can get “mashed”, fat can melt and coat the lean particles not allowing them to bind together properly. Causing a crumbly dry texture of the finished sausage. The meat should be close to frozen during mixing of the cure and starter culture.

Stuffing temperature: During stuffing it is important to keep the meat chilled in order not to melt the fat or mash the particles for the two reasons stated above. The particles of meat entering the casing during stuffing are going to be positioned in there for drying and will determine the texture and drying pattern. The meat should be close to frozen during stuffing. It is advisable to chill the body of the stuffer or some of its components to keep the meat as cold as possible.

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2. Grinding plate size: The size of the grinding plate determines the texture and drying pattern of the finished sausage. The larger grind results in more even and faster drying. If we bite into a bologna or a hot dog, we can not see the particles nor do we get any distinct texture of the meat that was used to make the product. Bologna starts out as a creamy paste or sometimes a liquid that is then cooked to a solid. A dry cured sausage like a dry salami is not cooked, so the particles of meat retain their character and texture.

During drying the moisture from inside the sausage has an easier time migrating through a larger particle maze than a tighter small particle maze thereby drying more evenly.

3. Fermentation humidity level: The stuffed sausage should be placed in a space that is relatively humid or at least does not have any direct airflow blowing on the fermenting chubs. This will ensure a more even drying pattern.

After the soon to become dry sausage is stuffed, it needs to ferment, so it can develop that distinct and prized salami flavor. During fermentation, the mixed in starter culture will multiply and ferment the meat lowering its PH level and giving it a tangy flavor. Starter culture needs moisture to work. If the outside of the sausage begins to dry too quickly during fermentation, the starter culture will not be able to ferment the meat that is on the outside of the chub and the result will be an uneven drying pattern and a hard rind on the outside.

Fermentation started

Fermentation started

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Fermentation finished, some drying occurred but acceptable.

 

UMAi Dry Introduces Dry Sausage Kit and Dry Sausage Casing Packet

The new sausage kit and sausage casing packet incorporate the UMAi Dry technology for making dry sausage using the UMAi Dry casing. The dry sausage kit includes: UMAi Dry casing 20 ft., VacMouse vacuum adapter packet, InstaCure #2, Powdered dextrose and Bactoferm T-SPX starter culture.

UMAi Dry Sausage KitUMAi Dry Sausage Casing Packet