How to Make Starter Culture for Salami? – All You Should Know

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While making salami, choosing the proper starter culture might seem a bit daunting. It is normal to feel confused while picking the right ingredients. But making a starter culture is not as complicated as it looks.

So, how to make starter culture for Salami? 

Making starter culture for salami is simple. You can make a starter culture using yogurt, sauerkraut juice, and acidophilus. The starter culture is a mix of ingredients that contain probiotics. These ingredients can boost fermentation and reduce the risk of bacterial growth in meat.   

In this article, we have narrowed down a few ways that can help you make starter cultures. From ingredients to the working methods, we’ve noted them down here. Give this article a read to find out more! 

How to Make Starter Culture for Salami

How to Make Starter Culture for Salami

Starter cultures can improve the meat’s taste, quality, and flavor. It makes meat safe for eating. Raw meat contains bacteria that can be harmful to us. Most people use starter cultures.

However, what if the starter culture is not nearby when you plan to make salami? So, in that case, can you make your own starter culture?

Yes, you can. The procedure is pretty simple. Most importantly, the ingredients are within your reach.

So, let’s check how you can make a starter culture.

1. Sauerkraut Juice

You can easily make a starter culture from the two most common ingredients: cabbage and salt. Mixing both will create a bacteria, Lactobacillus, that form lactic acid.

The Lactobacillus Plantarum is usually responsible for pH drops that speed up the fermentation process. If you want to know how to make starter culture for salami using sauerkraut juice, follow the steps below!

Clean the area before working

Firstly, make sure you’ve sanitized your workstation properly. Our main goal is to destroy bacteria. So, it is essential to maintain a hygienic environment.

Vinegar and an iodophor sanitizer can do the job. 

Maintain the Temperature 

Secondly, you need to keep an eye on the temperature. Make sure the temperature is between 18-19 degrees Celsius. The primary purpose of maintaining temperature is to create an unsuitable environment for the bacteria to grow.

Mix and Knead

Now, mix all of the spices with the meat. Add cumin, chili, white pepper, oregano, and dextrose. Dextrose is essential because it will feed the bacteria, thus producing lactic acid.

Add sauerkraut juice

Lastly, add sauerkraut juice. Make sure you add ½ cup for 5 lbs. of salami. Keep mixing and kneading the meat until it becomes sticky.

Put the meat into casings.

Now, put the meat into a casing and brush them down with Mold 600 (Penicillium). It will grow penicillium on the outer side while the fermentation process is going on. 

Check the pH

Put aside a small piece of meat in cellophane to test the pH. After 60 hours, check the pH of the meat. It should be around 4.95. It indicates the meat has been successfully fermented.

Then, put the meat into a drying chamber and leave it for 6-8 weeks.

Many people find it hard to figure out exactly when meat is fermented. How will you know it’s ready? You will see a change in color and texture.

When you pull the meat apart, it will stay bound together. 

2. Yogourt

You can also use yogurt as a starter culture. It can trigger the activation of lactic bacteria in meat. 

However, the use of yogurt is somewhat controversial. Many people claim that yogurt is not suitable for meat as a starter culture.

3. Acidophilus

Another product that can be used as a starter culture is Acidophilus. It is a type of probiotic that can aid digestion. It is a pre-made culture used for meat and dairy products. The best part of these products is that they are widely available. You can find them at any local grocery store. 

Salami With Vs. Without Starter Culture 

Salami With Vs. Without Starter Culture 

There’s not much difference between salami with starter culture and without it. The main difference can be observed in the taste and health benefits. 

  • Taste

The taste without starter culture is quite complex. The flavors remain intact when you don’t use a starter culture. 

On the other hand, salami made with starter culture has a consistent flavor. 

  • Health Benefits  

Salami without a starter culture is more likely to cause food poisoning if you don’t cook it properly. But, since they contain more live bacteria, it is good for gut health. 

On the contrary, salami with a starter culture is very healthy. It is less likely to cause food poisoning.    

How to Make Salami Without Starter Culture

How to Make Salami Without Starter Culture

But making a starter culture can be troublesome at times. If you’re looking for the easiest way to make salami, you can skip the starter culture part.

You’ve heard that; starter cultures are not necessary for making salami. Before widely available starter cultures, people used to make salami without any starter culture. So, it’s pretty possible.

Follow the steps below to make salami without a starter culture. 

Meat Selection

Firstly, you need to pick fresh and healthy meat. Since there is no starter culture, you rely entirely on the meat. Furthermore, the sooner you process the meat, the safer it is. 


Secondly, you need to add sodium nitrate salt. It acts as a preservative and destroys harmful bacteria. Mix this salt properly along with the other spices. 


After curing, if you grind the meat, the mix from the previous steps will be absorbed by the meat. It will result in a more flavourful salami. However, doing this step at low temperatures, not more than  54° F (12°C), is essential.

Stuffing – Putting the Meat in Casings

After you are done mixing, put the meat mixture into casings. It is crucial to check if the casings are clean or not.

You can pick natural or synthetic casings. Salt them and keep them in your fridge. 


It is recommended to keep lower temperatures for making salami without a starter culture. The length of the fermentation depends on the temperature.

For instance, if you keep the temperature at 18-24° C, the fermentation will last about 1-2 days. Make sure the pH of the meat is 5.2 at the end of the fermentation process. And keep a check on the humidity as well. The optimum humidity is 90-90 percent. 


Drying is the longest part of the whole process of making salami. It lasts about 2-3 months and is accomplished at 10-14 degrees Celcius. You should lower the humidity to 75 percent.


Your salami will be ready to be stored at cool temperatures when the water activity reaches below 0.89. You should keep it in the dark, cold, and well-ventilated area.

An important tip, make sure you keep the humidity in check. It should be around 75 percent. Anything higher than that can cause mold to grow.

Tips for Making Salami Without Starter Culture

Here are some tips to help you make salami without a starter culture. 

  • Firstly, make sure your workstation is clean and sanitized. It includes the types of equipment you’re working with too. It is crucial for preventing the growth of bacteria and possibly infecting the meat.
  • While mixing the ingredients, don’t add water. Bacterial growth increases in moist areas. So, adding water is a big NO.
  • Don’t add fresh and new spices to your meat. This step might sound a bit weird but trust us, there’s a reason behind it. Fresh spices usually have moisture. The moisture can cause bacterial growth in the meat.
  • While grinding, avoid taking large amounts out of the fridge. Instead, take small amounts and mix them together at the end.


  • What can be used as a starter culture?

A starter culture is nothing but a bunch of microorganisms that speed up the fermentation process. In simpler words, they are good bacteria.

You can use basic items always available in your house as a starter culture—for instance, Sourdough Starter, Juice from Fermented Vegetables, Whey from yogurt, and greek yogurt.

  • Does Salami need a starter culture?

Technically no, salami does not always require a starter culture. Starter cultures are mainly used to improve meat’s texture, color, and taste. But previously, when starter cultures were not prevalent, people resorted to traditional means of making salami. 

Bottom Line

Are you still pondering how to make starter culture for salami? The process is simple, cost-effective, and less time-consuming.

You can easily make a starter culture for your homemade salami with a few simple ingredients. You can use sauerkraut juice, yogurt, etc.

Store-bought starter cultures are also an option, but they are expensive. So, the best option is to make your own starter culture.

With the homemade starter culture, you can preserve the salami for a long time without worrying about spoilt.