What Is Fermento?

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When you hear the word “fermento”, you might be a little confused as to what this special ingredient is. Is it fermentation or something related to it?

Also known as “the sausage maker”, this little ingredient is what gives sausages their unique and tangy flavor and aroma that makes them all the more appealing.

If you’re in the sausage-making business or simply enjoy making sausages for fun, you need to know what fermento is and how to use it.

So, what is fermento? Fermento is a dairy-based starter culture that is used for preparing and fermenting semi-dry cured meats, such as sausages.

Read on to find out what it consists of, what it is used for, where you can buy it, and much more!

What Is In Fermento?

As mentioned above, fermento is a dairy-based fermentation starter that includes two main ingredients: skim milk and cultured whey protein.

It is typically produced and sold in powder form in many supermarkets and is what gives summer sausages their tangy, delicious flavor.

It is very important in the overall fermentation process and helps minimize the growth of harmful bacteria and helps good bacteria grow.

How Does Fermento Work?

Similar to Bactoferm, a freeze-dried culture used in the process of fermenting sausages, fermento is also a starter culture that works almost instantly when fermenting dried and smoked sausages.

Not only does it give the starter culture process a boost but also immediately gives off a tangy taste and smell to the sausage.

Therefore, once the fermento has been placed in your mixture, you can start smoking and drying the sausages almost instantly.

The process of drying and smoking sausages is a lengthy and delicate one that can take around 3 months to complete.

However, with the use of fermento, you can significantly speed up the process and make it much easier to produce quality sausages and other meat products.

Fermento helps produce lactic acid and beneficial bacteria that are essential for the meat fermentation process, some of which can also influence the meat’s taste, smell, and color.

Most importantly, fermento makes meat products safe to consume by killing off harmful bacteria, which is why it is so popular among people who produce meat products.

What Is Fermento Used For?

The main purpose of fermento is to produce 2 two basic types of fermented sausages: semi-dry and traditional dry-cured sausages.

The main difference between them is the amount of moisture that they retain following the curing process, with semi-dry sausages falling somewhere in the middle between fresh and dry.

Also, they are only partly smoked and usually made using beef.

Dry-cured sausages, on the other hand, are usually made by exposing pork to air and room temperature instead of cooking them, which makes them gather yeast and other cultures necessary for the fermentation process.

Apart from any form of meat, all fermented sausages typically contain fat, bacterial cultures, and a mix of salt, sugar, spices, nitrite, and other helpful ingredients.

Fermented sausages, also called summer sausages, can be both smoked or dried and do not require refrigeration until they are opened.

Due to their low pH levels and gradual bacterial growth, they can last much longer without refrigeration and are usually made from a mix of beef, pork, and venison.

Summer sausages use a blend of spices and flavors, such as curing salt, garlic salt, mustard seeds, and oftentimes sugar, that give them a nice, tangy flavor.

Some common fermented sausages made using fermento include:

  • Goteborg
  • Longaniza
  • Fuet
  • Chistorra
  • Cervelat
  • Chorizo Salchichón

How To Use Fermento

The best and most advisable way to use fermento is to use 1 oz. of fermento for every 2 pounds of meat (or 28 grams of fermento for every 0.90 kilograms of meat).

This means that you must use around 3% fermento for the amount of meat you have. However, this is not a set proportion and varies depending on the type of meat you use and what you want to use the fermento for.

It is essential to note that you mustn’t go over the 6 lbs. mark for every 100 lbs. of meat.

Where To Buy Fermento

You can easily find between 1 oz. to 50 lbs. of fermento in the market, although it depends mainly on the supplier and their packaging.

If for whatever reason you can’t find fermento at your local grocer, you can always buy some online.

What Can Be Substituted For Fermento?

Fermento helps speed up the sausage fermentation process, produces a tangy flavor and sharp aroma, and makes sausages safe to consume by minimizing the growth and spread of harmful bacteria.

Therefore, the best substitutes for fermento must also promote the growth of good bacteria useful for the fermentation process and give the sausages the same tangy flavor.

It is also important to note that since fermento is a dairy-based product made using skim milk or non-fat dried milk. It is advised to use alternatives that can easily replace the dairy ingredients, at least to a certain extent.

Some popular fermento substitutes include:

Citric Acid

Found in citrus fruit such as lemons, limes, and oranges, citric acid is the ingredient responsible for their sour, tangy, and acidic flavor.

It is a great replacement for fermento since it can preserve meat, help slow down the growth of harmful bacteria, increase the acidity, and improve the flavor of the meat it is used with.

To use citric acid in place of fermento for sausage fermentation, mix around 2 oz. of citric acid per 1 quart of water and use it to make delicious summer sausages.

Prague Powder Number 1

Also called Insta Cure 1, Prague powder number 1 is a powder formula made from 93.75% salt and 6.25% sodium nitrite.

It is commonly used for curing meat that needs to be cooked and is best suited for smoked meats, sausages, ham, bacon, jerky, fish, and more.

Prague powder number 1 has a pink hue and a salty and smoky flavor that is perfect for curing summer sausages.

It is an excellent substitute for fermento because it helps preserve the meat, enhance the flavor, and minimize the risk of food poisoning.

To use Prague powder number 1 in place of fermento for sausage fermentation, use 1 leveled teaspoon of the powder for every 5 lbs. of meat.

Dextrose Monohydrate

While citric acid and Prague powder number 1 are great for adding saltiness to the cured meats, dextrose monohydrate is used to replace sugar.

Made from corn, dextrose monohydrate has a sweet flavor and works well with sweet recipes as well as for meat preparation.

Since it is a healthier alternative to sugar, and much less sweet, it can replace fermento and enhance both the flavor and quality of the fermented summer sausages.

Buttermilk Powder

Considering that fermento is a dairy-based product, substituting it with one, such as buttermilk powder, should be a good idea. 

In addition to using buttermilk powder, you can also use buttermilk solids or liquid in place of fermento for the sausage fermentation process.

As an alternative, you can also use equal parts of non-fat dried milk and it should give you the same results as fermento.

Related Questions

Now that we’ve discussed all there is to know about fermento, what is in it, how it works, how it is used, and its best substitutes available out there, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have:

What’s the best way to store summer sausage?

Summer sausage got its name due to its ability to remain unspoiled even in hot, summer days if kept unopened and stored properly.

Its shelf life is affected by 3 main factors including whether it is opened or unopened, the conditions it is kept in, and whether it has been cooked or not.

Although a summer sausage has a much longer shelf life than other types of sausages, it will go bad under certain circumstances.

The best way to store them to extend their shelf life is to keep them refrigerated. You will also often find summer sausage packets with labels reading “refrigerate after opening”. 

An opened summer sausage can last in the refrigerator for up to 3 months, whereas an opened one can last for around 3 weeks.

Once cooked, the summer sausage will start to accumulate moisture and will last for only a couple of hours at room temperature and a maximum of a week or two in a refrigerator or freezer.

Can you freeze summer sausage?

Yes, you can freeze summer sausage for up to 10 months. To do so, you need to first wrap it in a large piece of freezer paper.

Next, tape the edges of the paper to secure the sausage tightly, write the date on the outside of the paper, and place it into the freezer.

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One Comment

  1. Let’s get this right neither NITRITES or NITRATES are FERMENTERS they merely aid the FERMENTATION PROCESS
    There is no advantage using NITRITES over NITRATES.
    There no evidence that POTASSIUM NITRATE if used CORRECTLY is and more DANGEROUS or more effective than SODIUM NITRATE and there is no difference in their potential toxicity . Indeed SODIUM NITRITE is a commonly used in SUICIDE attempts. Going back even 50 years onl Potassium Nitrate [aka Saltpetre or, for those who know a little Chemistry, KNo3 ] only KNO3 would have been available Inthe UK the only way that SODUM Salts are available is most usually in a COMMERCIALLY prepared CURE such PRAGUE POWDER [or INSTACURE ] No’s 1 or 2 Whilst KNO3 is widely available AND CHEAP. The recommended concentratiion of KNO3 is between 1% and 0.8% of KNO3 in additive free SALT which gives a between 1:4000 to 1:5000 concentration in raw product Root vegetables aand especially CELERY can contain a far higher concentrations of NITRATES.
    NITRAYES in a suitable dosage can actually have beneficial effect on CARDIO VASCULAR HEALTH and mthere is absolutely NO evidence that POTASSIUM NITRATE, or other Nitrates/Nitrites are CARCOGENIC at recommended levels on consumption

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