Ripening

During the ripening phase, whereby the product is stored in appropriate thermohygrometric conditions (temperature, relative, humidity), an evolution takes place of the microbiological and enzymatic processes responsible for the preservation of a salami and for the formation of its main sensory properties (18).

In order to optimize the various processes, this stage is normally divided into several substages, characterized by differing values of the thermohygrometric parameters.

As a general rule, five substages can be identified: storage and/or drying at low temperature, heating up to the fermentation temperature, fermentation, drying, and ripening (Table 4).

Only some technologies, those designed to produce salamis with relatively high pH values and long ripening periods, expressly involve the division into all five substages; in many cases, in fact, only the middle stages (heating up to the fermentation temperature, fermentation, and drying) are involved.

The optimization of the various stages requires a knowledge of the evolution of the main physicochemical parameters: temperature, pH, and Aw.

Throughout the ripening period, the latter parameter undergoes a slow diminution directly linked to the humidity loss that takes place in suitable thermohygrometric conditions (relative humidity < Aw). The decrease in water content depends on two interdependent

Table 4 Substages of the Aging Process of Salamis

Substage

Purpose

Operating conditions

Resting and/or

To allow for an initial drying

Refrigeration T; RH is chosen on

drying at

stage in refrigeration

the basis of the casing

low T

conditions; for salamis

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