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I've been hanging my own Pancetta based on the recipe in Ruhlman's 'Charcuterie' book. Some small white dots of mould have started to appear.

I want to identify whether this mould is to be expected or whether it is a sign of my preservation gone wrong. I realise mould is almost an ever present factor in charcuterie but how can you tell the safe mould from the dangerous ones?

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We can't really answer questions like this; we can't see or test the mold to see if it is dangerous or not. Follow what the book says, consult your physician. –  daniel Oct 10 '10 at 21:19
    
My question isn't really is my particular mould (UK spelling for those who keep correcting my 'typos') dangerous but more what signs do you look out for when curing meats to limit the danger of eating bad (mouldy) meat. I think this is perfectly valid question for a site like this as this is a cookery method and I am looking for advice essentially on how to detect if it is cooked (preserved) correctly. –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:12
    
Ah. It seemed like you were asking the much more specific question--Is this still safe to eat?--and not so much the general question. –  daniel Oct 10 '10 at 22:35
    
Good point! I've edited the question to better convey my intent rather than the "am I going to die if I eat this" stance that it may have had originally! –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:44

4 Answers 4

up vote 7 down vote accepted

On another couple of sites (Ruhlman for starters) I found the answer to this. It appears that mould is expected sometimes in the Pancetta making process and as a general rule of thumb as long as it isn't too green and furry then it should be OK. I've followed Ruhlman's advice and dabbed the spots of mould with a vinegar soaked cloth and it wiped straight off and looks fine.

My meat was coming up to the end of it's hanging time anyway so rather than worry about it further I've refrigerated it.

I hope this helps anyone that stumbles across this with the same issue.

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foodwithlegs.com/?p=1442 was the other site I read for advice on this but I couldn't post two links on one post because I don't have enough rep yet. –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:32
    
probably makes more sense to put this all in the original question. if you don't have the rep I'll be happy to do it for you. –  daniel Oct 10 '10 at 22:34
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I was going to accept this as the answer in a couple of days if no one posted anything more authoritative. I'm fairly new to the site but isn't it best (even when answering your own questions) to put the answer as an answer rather than part of the question? –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:43
    
People don't always read down. Always better to update the question if you have found the answer--or an answer--yourself. –  daniel Oct 10 '10 at 22:45
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They don't need to read down if this is the accepted answer then it will be the top one, if someone posts something better I will accept theirs and then it will logically display correctly without me pushing a better answer down by posting my answer in the question. I read the advice on meta (and StackOverflow meta) on answering your own questions to ensure I complied with the accepted etiquette before posting and I believe I am in line with the general consensus. –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:55

The mould is an important part of the curing process and as a general rule, as long as the mould is white and the meat doesn't smell 'bad' in any way, your pancetta will be doing what it's meant to. Sorry, I realise 'bad' might be objective, but generally very obvious to tell off meat with curing. If the mould is white, speckled with black, or mostly black, or green, then your pancetta's in trouble.

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I'm not sure this is a correct answer. White mould is quite common on cured dry sausages. On Cacciatora sausages, I expect to see white mould. –  Chris Cudmore Oct 12 '10 at 13:48
    
Yes, dry cured sausages will also have these moulds. In Europe salami casings are often dipped or sprayed in mould starters. This mould helps to impart flavour and prevent spoilage during the curing process (by preventing less desirable fungi and yeasts growing). There is absolutely nothing wrong with a fine covering of white mould on air-dried cured meat. If it is unpleasant to you though, it can always be washed off with a little vinigar solution. There is a problem with black or green mould however. –  nunu Oct 14 '10 at 23:46

if you are using a stble controlled mold (ie. Bactoferm 600 or mondostart etc.) the mold should appear white. if you are begginning to get blue spores there is most likely an issue with air circulation or moreso the relative humidity of the chamber. Humidity should reach into the mid 70s for proper mold growth. to counteract mold one can also purchase potassium sorbate for the war on green and blue.

Since your pancetta is tesa i dont see there being a possibility of internal mold. unless you did a shit job butchering.

I work in a producer of cured meats and our pancetta regularly takes mold from the rest of the room

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Don't eat the mould - cut it out. Probably scrape it off the meat. I don't know if anyone can comment on using something to prevent growth, like rubbing down with alcohol.

Unless I'm mistaken, you should probably not eat the outer layer of the meat at all.

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I think you are mistaken, I am curing as a slab rather than rolled so removing the outer layer isn't really feasible. When you see pancetta slabs in a deli they haven't removed the outer layer. –  colethecoder Oct 10 '10 at 22:14
    
No, I mean after you cut off a slice - try not eating the outer layer. –  Marcin Oct 10 '10 at 22:42

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