For products with rapid acidification, attention is focused on the fermentation stage, and thus cold drying is not normally present, heating methods are linked to the probability of mold growth in the subsequent stages (relative humidity is controlled to avoid the condensation of water on casing), the fermentation temperature is chosen on the basis of the type of starter culture used (higher for pediococci, lower for lactobacillaceae) (13) and relative humidity is close to the Aw value of the mixture and the time of the stage sufficient to reach a preestablished minimum pH value.
The thermohygrometric parameters (temperature and relative humidity) of the subsequent stages are chosen on the basis of the characteristics of the product during and at the end of the aging stage, because the water retention power diminishes as pH is lowered, and acidic salamis dry more quickly. The control of Aw and of the quantity of water and salt in annulus of the product at the various drying stages allows for the implementation of improvement techniques (22,24).
The sausages can be heated, at the end of fermentation or ripening, to an internal temperature of higher than 60°C to eliminate trichina or Enterobacteriaceae (18).
For salamis, whose preservation depends on a combination of several factors, the main aim of the various substages must be to ensure the inactivation of pathogenic microorganisms without jeopardizing the formation of the traditional sensory properties.
Studies based on ''hurdle effect'' (18) and on predictive microbiology enable the definition of optimal combinations of the various factors (27,28).
The control of pH decrease is one of the main objectives, and it is made possible by means of a series of considerations based on the treatment of the fresh meat, the choice of ingredients and the ripening techniques.
Because pH decrease is influenced by Aw and the variation in this parameter is closely linked to the diameter of the salami, greater attention is paid to the preparation of bigger-sized salamis.
For these, the technique adopted involves cold-drying for some days (2-3 days at a temperature of 2-5°), humid air heating for the time strictly necessary to bring the internal temperature to values close to those chosen for drying, the fermentation stage, limited to a few hours, drying at not excessively high temperatures (15-25) and ripening, lasting for varying periods depending on the type of product and casing (up to several months), at temperatures around 10-12°C.
During the drying phase, the room temperature shows a downward trend, which is more marked in the first few days, although there are numerous exceptions to this rule, and various methodologies can be identified for salamis having similar characteristics in confirmation of the complexity of the processes involved.
Smoking forms part of the drying and/or fermentation process; to reduce the possibility of the formation of very dark surface colors, it is advisable in certain conditions to submit the salamis to smoking after the external part has reached an acceptable degree of red coloring.
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