Finocchiona is a type of salami characterized by the aroma of fennel, used as seeds and/or flowers, and by the soft consistency of the slice which sometimes tends to crumble. This salami comes in a variety of sizes, from 0.5 kg to up to a maximum of 25 kg. The meat is has a medium-coarse grain (4.5mm and 8mm) without well-defined borders.
Finocchiona is traditionally made of the following pork cuts: boneless, trimmed shoulder, trimmed ham, lean belly meat, coppa/pork neck, pork belly fat, pork cheeks.
Finocchiona PDO description specifies the following seasonings per 100 kg of meat:
- Salt - between 2.5 and 3.5 kg (2.5% - 3.5%);
- Ground pepper - between 50 and 100 grams (0.05% - 0.1%);
- Peppercorns (cracked and/or whole) - between 150 and 400 grams (0.15% - 0.4%);
- Dehydrated garlic - between 50 and 100 grams (0.05% - 0.1%);
- Fennel seeds and/or fennel flowers - between 200 and 500 grams (0.2% - 0.5%).
Nitrates and starter cultures are also permitted.
Finocchiona is stuffed in natural casings and subjected to intensive drying which is the period during which there is the most marked dehydration. To achieve this result, the Finocchiona is kept in rooms with a temperature between 64F (12C) and 77F (25C). Once the drying phase is over, the maturing phase begins, which is carried out with temperatures between 52F (11C) and 64F (18C) and relative humidity between 65% and 90%.
Maturing duration depends on the size of the salami:
- 0. 5 - 1 kg - a minimum of 15 days
- 1 - 6 kg - a minimum of 21 days
- 6 - 25 kg - a minimum of 45 days
Since I have several other types of salami in my curing chamber, I am going to use a slightly different drying/maturing schedule which I used for making the other types.
For drying my salami (75mm – 110mm), I used the following schedule:
|Fermentation||14 hours||77F (25C)||< 99 %|
|Drying||17 hours||73F (23C)||75-85 %|
|Drying||24 hours||71F (22C)||68-78 %|
|Drying||24 hours||68F (20C)||65-75 %|
|Drying||24 hours||64F (18C)||68-78 %|
|Drying||24 hours||61F (16C)||72-82 %|
|Drying||24 hours||59F (15C)||76-86 %|
After drying, the salami went into the meat curing chamber where it will slowly mature at 55F – 57F (13C – 14C) and 80% – 84% for 3+ months. Note the higher humidity level here.
The starting pH was at 5.79, which dropped to about 5.10 by the end of the 7th day.
I expect the pH to continue dropping a little lower over the following 3 days, level off and gradually come back up a little.
Salami weight loss progress
Below is the weight loss progress of my 90mm and 110mm salami using the new drying technique.
|#1 (80mm)||Weight, g||Loss, g||Loss, %|
|3 days||1,360||151||9.9 %|
|5 days||1,305||206||13.6 %|
|7 days (end of drying)||1,274||237||15.7 %|
|12 days||1,215||246||19.6 %|
|23 days||1,120||391||25.9 %|
|1 Month||1,082||424||28.4 %|
|2 Months||955||556||36.8 %|
|2.5 Months||921||589||39.0 %|
|#2 (115mm)||Weight, g||Loss, g||Loss, %|
|3 days||2,258||176||7.2 %|
|5 days||2,179||255||10.5 %|
|7 days (end of drying)||2,133||301||12.4%|
|12 days||2,041||393||16.1 %|
|23 days||1,903||531||21.8 %|
|1 Month||1,846||588||24.2 %|
|2 Months||1,645||789||32.4 %|
|3 Months||1,520||914||37.5 %|
|4 Months||1,479||955||39.2 %|
The 80mm diameter Finocchiona reached a 39% weight loss after 2.5 months and felt firm enough to slice. Even at a 39% weight loss it's not a hard salami by any means. It's firm but at the same time has a soft texture.
The uniformity of drying using my new favorite method is very good. I can's say that it's 100% perfect but, honestly, I haven't seen one piece of salumi that was perfect in that respect. That includes highly regarded Italian imports. But, overall, I feel like using this method I have more control over drying, the results (flavor and drying) are better and my stress level is very low.
The fennel aroma is bold but without overpowering the porky flavor. Compared to Tuscan salami, this one is enjoyed way more by my family as they prefer the finer fat grind. Personally, I also prefer the finer fat grind of Finocchiona and I really like the addition of fennel aroma.
The acidity at 5.26 is a little higher than I expected but taste-wise the salami had a lovely tang so I was quite happy with the results. The acidity level was on par with the Fuet that I made recently but overall the acidity was less apparent in Finocchiona. Unless there was a mistake in pH measurement (I don't think there was), the only explanation I have is the salt content. I think the higher content of salt in Fuet accentuated the acidic taste.
Thinking about it, the thinner salami had less mold so that explains the reason why the pH didn't recover as much as I had expected.
Overall, this salami is a joy to eat. Full of bold flavors, rich porky taste and a wonderful soft texture. I used Berkshire pork to make this salami and I can definitely tell the difference. The richer color and taste are quite apparent. You can't go wrong with heritage pork.
The seasonings are spot on, as is expected with time-tested PDO recipes. This salami reminded me of the reason why I make salami at home - you can't find anything like this at your supermarket. Without a doubt, this recipe is a must-try for any salami maker.
- 750 g lean pork boneless, trimmed shoulder, trimmed ham, lean belly meat, coppa/pork neck
- 250 g pork belly fatty part
- 25.5 g sea salt
- 2.5 g Cure #2
- 2.25 g dextrose
- 0.12 g T-SPX culture
- 60 ml distilled water
- 10 ml red wine good Tuscan red wine
- 0.75 g garlic powder
- 4 g fennel seeds wild fennel seeds or a combination of fennel seeds and fennel pollen are recommended.
- 2 g black pepper coarsely ground
- Rehydrate the starter culture in 60 ml distilled water. (see notes)
- Weigh the lean meat and the pork belly in grams. Calculate the rest of the ingredients, except the distilled water which will remain the same (see notes), weigh them out and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, Cure #2 and dextrose.
- Cut the lean and the fatty pork into 1-inch pieces. Sprinkle the salt mixture over the meat and mix well. Freeze for 20 minutes.
- Grind through a 3/16″ (4.5mm) grinder plate.
- Combine the ground pork with seasonings, dextrose, and starter culture. Mix well, until sticky.
- Stuff into 70-110 mm natural casings (beef bungs) and tie into 10"-12" links.
- Using a sterilized needle or sausage pricker, prick holes across the entire salami.
- Weigh the salami, write down its weight on a tag and attach the tag to the salami.
- If desired, inoculate with mold.
- Use the leftover meat from the stuffer/stuffing tube to make a small sample for measuring the initial pH and the pH at later stages. Make sure to record the readings.
- Dry at 59F - 77F (15C - 25C) and 65% - 86% RH for a period of 7 days as per the drying protocol above. Measure the pH, it should be below 5.3 at this point.
- Mature in the curing chamber at 55F - 57F (13C - 14C) and 80% - 84% for about 3 months.
Alternative curing method
- Ferment salami at 68F-70F for three days to get the pH below 5.3.
- Cure at the standard 55F-57F and 75% RH until 35% weight loss is obtained.