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

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.


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.


Sodium Nitrite – Is it a bad thing?

Much of todays society is focused on food “purity”. Many products today are marketed as “locally raised”, “sustainable” and free of many ingredients deemed to be undesirable.
One such ingredient is commonly referred to as “nitrite”. Processed meat products like salami, ham, turkey, etc. are boasting a claim to be “nitrite free“.
What is referred to as “nitrite” is actually sodium nitrite a salt commonly used in preserving meat and protecting the meat from growth of harmful bacteria know as Clostridium botulinum which can cause botulism a dangerous possibly fatal condition.

A “nitrite free” product purchased in an American supermarket most certainly does contain nitrite, but not in its salt form. The manufacturers of these “nitrite free” products often use extracts of celery or celery seed, which naturally contains elevated levels of nitrite. The labeling laws in the US allow companies who use a plant derived form of nitrite to claim that their products are “nitrite free”.
One of the interesting details about the use of celery derived nitrites is that it is virtually impossible to control the concentration of nitrite in the meat precisely, since the levels of nitrite in celery can vary widely depending on its source.

By adding a nitrite salt such as Instacure #1 or Instacure #2 to your home made sausage you can control the level of nitirite in the meat more precisely and avoid over or under dose.
Instacure #1 contains 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite and should be added at a level of .25% of the weight of the meat.
It is used for fresh and cooked sausages and hams
Instacure #2 contains 92.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitirite as well as 1% sodium nitrate. It should be added to meat at a level of .25%. This curing salt is used in dry sausages and charcuterie meats that are aged longer than 2 weeks.
The sodium nitrate component of this additive breaks down into sodium nitrite. Sodium nitrite eventually breaks down through oxidation into nitric oxide in dry sausages leaving no trace behind.

Michael Ruhlman outlines the myths behind “nitrite free” labeling in his post:

Pepperoni the artisan way with UMAi Dry

Pepperoni is an American dry sausage introduced by italian immigrants in the beginning of the 20th century. It is a cousin of several traditional italian salami products like: Soppressata, Salami Toscano, etc.

Today the popularity of this sausage exceeds any other dry sausage, since pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping around the world. However, the pepperoni that is put on your Domino’s pizza is produced in large factories using very inexpensive ingredients and is cooked prior to drying. It has little to do with its origins as an artisanal dry sausage. We went on a quest to make pepperoni the way it was originally made. Stanley Marianski in his book “The Art of Making Fermented Sausages” had the recipe we were looking for.

This simple and delicious artisan dry sausage can be made with the new UMAi Dry 32 mm Dry Sausage Kit right in the comfort of your kitchen.

Here is the process and recipe:

We used lean pork tenderloin since it is very affordable at our local Costco warehouse (you can use any leaner cut of pork), we also used beef chuck and pork back fat.

You would want to par-freeze all the meat in thin strips before making the sausage. Once the meat is semi-frozen, you can cut it into small cubes in order to feed them into the grinder:



After the meat is cubed you can put it back in the freezer and assemble you cure and spices:


Now we are ready to grind the meat, we like to use a large 6mm (1/4 in.) grinding plate, it makes the texture and drying more even. When grinding the meat you would want to alternate beef, pork and fat to get some mixing in the grinding step:


After all the meat is ground, the cure and spices can be added. We use wooden paddles to mix the cure and spices in since the ground meat is cold and mixes very easily. Warming up the meat with hands makes mixing the cure more difficult.


After the spices and the cure are mixed in we will add the Bactoferm T-SPX starter cuture, which has been previously dissolved in previously boiled and cooled to room temperature water. After the culture has been added we begin to “knead” the sausage mix with hands until begins to stiffen:



We thne put the mixture back into the freezer and get our stuffer ready and prepare the UMAi Dry 32mm casing included in the sausage kit. We will use 4 inch zip-ties to close the ends of sausage chubs:



We stuffed the chilled sausage mix into pair chubs, trying to avoid air pockets. The pair chubs will make it easier to hand the sausage for fermentation:




We used an unused oven as our fermentation chamber. The oven was at room temperature 65-75F. We fermented for 36 hours. The pepperoni sausage will change color from pale orange to bright red after fermentation:


After fermentation the pepperoni is ready for drying. UMAi Dry allows you to dry in any modern household fridge on a wire rack. Don’t use a beer fridge, mini-fridge or garage fridge in the winter. We used our regular kitchen fridge to dry:



The 32 mm UMAi Dry sausage casing dries pretty quickly. In this case it took only 2 weeks for the sausage to loose the 35-40% weight required for dry sausage




This pepperoni exceeded our expectations. The flavor and texture was levels above commercially produced pepperoni. It had a true artisanal character.



Recipe is below:

Traditional Pepperoni

(Slow-fermented Dry Style)

Ingredients per 2.2 kg 5 lb of meat

Lean beef 670g 1.45 lb

Lean pork 1375g  / 3 lb

Pork fat (Back Fat) 250g  / 0.55 lb

Salt 65g 11 tsp

Instacure #2 5g  / 1 tsp

Dextrose 4g  / 1 tsp

Sugar 6g  / 1 tsp

Black pepper 6g  / 3 tsp

Paprika 12g  / 6 tsp

Fennel 5g  / 4 tsp

Cayenne Pepper 4g  / 2 tsp

Bactoferm T-SPX 0.5 g   / 1/2 tsp

(dissolved in 2 tbsp lukewarm de-chlorinated water)

Mortadella di Bologna – Made at Home with UMAi Dry®

Mortadella is a classic italian staple dating back to Roman times when they used to flavor it with myrtle berries (rather than precious peppercorns, as we do today). The most well known is the Bologna version of this versatile sausage.


We decided to employ UMAi Dry® in this classic cooked sausage application. Our recipe comes from the Stanley Marianski collection available on his website (or from his book on our website). The results exceeded our expectations so we decided to share this with the world.

Here is the recipe:

(Note: We added some ice water to the emulsion, which is not in the original recipe)

Mortadella di Bologna

Pork                     1590g  3.5 lb

Jowls, bacon or fat trimmings      454g     1 lb

Back fat   227g       0.5 lb

Salt 41g                  1.5oz

Instacure #1     5g      1 tsp

White pepper     4.5g   2 tsp

Whole peppercorns      9g   2 tsp

Coriander 1.13  1/2 tsp Garlic powder   3.5g   1 tsp

Anise 2.27g                              1 tsp

Mace 2.27g                              1 tsp

Caraway, ground    1.14g       1/2 tsp

Pistachios, whole   8g           1/2 c

Cold red wine   150ml           1/2 c

Ice water 150ml 1/2 c

First of all: Start with frozen strips of meat! The most important predictor of successful results in sausage-making is the temperature of the meat during grinding, mixing and cooking. It should be cold, cold, COLD.  We make it a habit slice the meat into finger thickness strips and freeze them between layers of plastic wrap to keep them separated.  Meat prepared and set to freeze–onto the next step.


We prepared our spices and cure (keeping the pistachios and whole peppercorns separate, to be added at the end).


This time, we used a mortar and pestle on the larger spices, then mixed it all with the cure (salt and Instacure #1–fast acting type for cooked sausage).


Next, we cut the meat into 1 inch cubes, so they would fit into the grinder hopper:


We first ground the meat through a 8mm plate. Since we only had a hand grinder, this was a work out and a half for the biceps!


After once again chilling the meat down, we mixed the spices and cure into the ground meat using paddles to keep the meat cold.  This also makes it easy to so the mix in the dry ingredients evenly and easily.


After the spices and cure were in, we loaded the meat into the grinder for the second grind through a  4.5 mm plate . We used a scoop to load the ground, seasoned meat instead of hands to prevent the meat from warming up.


Once the meat was ground, the magic of mortadella-making began.  This type of sausage needs to be emulsified in a food processor. Ours was a vintage Cuisinart that handled the three batch job with proficiency.

During emulsification, water and wine were added slowly to keep the meat mass moving. Special care needs to be taken not to over-emulsify.  The food processor only needs to grind the meat into a creamy mass that stretches like a dough when you pinch out a bit. Once that consistency is achieved, the process needs to stop.

We found it best to pulse the processor and check the meat consistency periodically to make sure that it wouldn’t get over-worked. Over-worked meat can produce a rubbery texture in the finished Mortadella.

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With our emulsion ready, once more we tucked it into the fridge to chill.

While it was cooling down, we finely cubed the back fat, then blanched it with boiling water through a sieve.  This helps the fat to adhere to the emulsion and prevents it from falling out of the slices after the Mortadella is done and sliced.


We took the emulsion out of the fridge, mixed in the peppercorns, finely chopped back fat and pistachios–and we were ready for the UMAi Dry®.


For this recipe, we needed an UMAi Dry® casing with a pretty large diameter. We used the 8 in x 18 inch (200 x 450) UMAi Dry Tenderloin/Large Charcuterie size. We gathered the end of the bag in an accordion pattern and used a zip-tie/cable tie to secure the end closed.

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Once the end was secured, we stuffed the meat into the bag using our 5# stuffer doing our very best to avoid air pockets.


Once the meat was stuffed into the UMAi Dry® casing, we pressed out any air left at the top of the bag out and closed it off with another zip tie.

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Now it was time for the “legatura”–a special way of the tying of the sausage to support it. The basic principle is that the sausage should be hung supported from the bottom and not hung by the top end, so as not to put stress on the casing. The blanket stitch pattern of tying worked well for us. Here is the Mortadella hanging in the oven:


We then set the oven to 170F or 77C (the lowest temp possible on our oven) and put a roasting pan under the sausage and poured several cups of boiling water into the roasting pan to provide a source of moist heat to the oven.

We let the sausage cook for 8 hours until it reached an internal temperature of 154F or 68C. We used our iGrill thermometer to measure the internal temperature–waiting until the meat had cooked long enough to be solid and past the risk of bursting. The probe should not be inserted into the sausage in the beginning of the cook cycle since the meat is still quite liquid and can leak out. We inserted the probe after 7 hours of cooking:

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The color of the meat was a rosy cherrywood color and the warm, spicy, meaty aroma filled the house (making the dog crazy!).  If your only impression of bologna is the pre-sliced plastic floppy frisbee-worthy variety, the aroma of a true mortadella may be beyond what you can imagine.

The UMAi Dry® performed exceptionally well, releasing moisture and while also preventing the product from drying out. We took the Mortadella out of the oven, immediately put it into a pot of cold water for 10 minutes to chill the surface and arrest the rise of the internal temperature.


The final step was to allow the Mortadella to rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours, allowing its internal temperature to drop:


Once chilled, the Mortadella was ready to slice.

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We fired up our Chef’s Choice slicer and went to work.  The Mortadella rolled off in tender, delectable slices.  We needed to retrieve the occasional escaped pistachio, but the end result had the complex aroma of several spices and a flavor uniting the zing of the peppercorns and mellowness imparted by the pistachios and cubes of back fat.

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We would show you how tasty it was, if we could!  Sharing it with friends and exploding their pre-conceptions about bologna has been a blast.  Intense process–but well worth the time and effort.


5 Tips for making Dry sausage with UMAi Dry

To make good looking and good tasting dry sausage with UMAi Dry is not that hard. There a few basic practices to follow to ensure you get the very best results for your effort and patience.

Here are a few helpful tips:

1. Keep the meat cold: Slice the meat into thick slices (+/- ¾ in./1 cm) and partially freeze prior to cutting them into cubes for grinding. Keep the meat as cold as possible through each step of the process right until it is stuffed into UMAi Dry® casing. Keeping the meat cold (aka icy, nearly frozen) makes grinding and mixing easy as can be.  Frozen meat grinds out with much better definition. The ground meat will keep its shape.   The defined grind will also allow the spices and cure to distribute more easily and evenly, coating each individual particle. Finally. stuffing a cold sausage mixture guarantees an well-defined appearance to the finished dry sausage, achieving a classic salumi look.

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2. Grind large: Use a large hole plate when grinding the meat for dry sausage. Larger meat particles will allow faster, more even drying.  It will also give the sausage the classic texture of a fine salami. Smaller grind will take longer to dry and create a less defined texture.



3. Use paddles or other tools to mix cure and spices into the ground meat :  If you use hands, you end up with frozen digits and sticky meat, making even mixing next to impossible. Wood, plastic or metal paddles will help keep the ground meat cold and help coat each particle with cure and spices for an even mix. Once the spices and cure coat the sausage particles well, you can use hands to knead the mixture until it gets stiff, indicating a stable mixture.



4. Use a dedicated stuffer to stuff the casing: This is a lesson we’ve learned the hard way.  Hand grinders and grinder stuffer attachments will generally result paste like or doughy re-ground meat–very undesirable for a classic dry sausage. A dedicated stuffer will work more gently, preserving the structure of the meat.  The result is the well-defined particle pattern of classic salami.

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5. Ferment the sausage in a protected space with little air flow: Fermentation is one of the most critical steps in making dry sausage.  During this step the sausage should be prevented from drying. Fermenting sausages should be placed in an area with little to no air movement.  Rapid airflow can dry out the outside of the sausage preventing the outer surface from properly fermenting. As a result you may have uneven drying and poor appearance of the finished product. We’ve begun to use an oven or similar enclosed space. One sausage maker showed us how he rigged up a paper grocery bag umbrella-style to shelter the batch of sausages he hung to ferment.



These are practices we’ve found helpful in our pursuit of making better and better dry sausage.  We hope they help you get the best results for all the time, effort and patience you will put into mastering the art of salumi!

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

Capicola made using UMAi Dry method by our customer Robin in Canada



Finished Spicy Capocollo and Black Pepper/Juniper Berry Coppa using UMAi Bags. Delicious! The Chorizo turned out amazing using the sample Salumi UMAi casing. Hope to see Salumi UMAi casing/bags for sale in the future. Delicious and better than some commercially available Proscuitto in Canada.

Thanks again,