A lot of good dry cured sausage, especially styles of salami with mold on the casing, has a very specific smell. I'm not sure how to describe it, but in my mind it's somehow strongly associated with umami. It's not present in all salami by any means, but very obvious in some, for example this kind or some of these.

What exactly causes that smell, and is there a name for it?

2 Answers 2


Salumi are generally cured with the addition of starter cultures (Lactobacillus plantarum and Pediococus acidilactici, for example). These cultures add to the sour, tangy flavor, but also to the aroma. In addition, Here is a report on glutimate concentration in dry cured ham. (generally cured with salt alone). I am sure the mechanism in cured salumi is similar. So, the aroma is closely related to fermentation and the concentration of glutimates, which increase umami. Then there is the terrior. Much like wine, cured meat products have flavor and aroma profiles that are distinctive to the location of their raw products and manufacture...what the animals ate, the environment of the curing room and its associated microflora. Finally, a favorable mold spore is either added (or naturally populates the curing room) for the purpose of keeping destructive molds off the drying product. All of this contributes to both flavor and aroma. Is there a name for the "cured meat aroma"? I have been unable to find one. I suppose, like wine, cured meats can be described by the flavor and aroma profiles that that are observed by the consumer.

  • Sorry if I wasn't clear, but this is something specific that's strongly present in some but not all salami. I'll try to clarify in the question.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 20, 2015 at 12:45
  • I am not sure that your clarification would change my response. Several mechanisms contribute to the aroma. Your examples certainly highlight salumi that are made with the introduction of white mold. Perhaps the aroma you are looking to describe is a product of the white mold...I still don't think it has a specific name. I do know that when I cure meats with and without the introduction of white mold, they smell differently. That mold has a characteristic smell.
    – moscafj
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:32
  • Thanks - I just wasn't sure if you were talking about a more generic smell or that particular strong one.
    – Cascabel
    Dec 20, 2015 at 13:48

Not to discount any information in moscafj's answer, there are other factors that affect the aroma of certain salame and cured sausage products.

Some, for example have natural salame aromas added to their mixture. From Academia Barilla :

The meat is mixed with salt, spices and natural aromas.

These natural aromas can be found in packages on the Internet.

Another factor may be the type of casing used. From Fra' Mani :

We use salted casings from pork intestine for products such as dry salame because of the very desirable aroma they impart.

So, pinning down something specific may not be an easy task as there are many variables. I would say, to narrow it down, you would have to find the common denominators in the salamis and cured sausages you detect this aroma in.

  • Truedat!! Aroma also influenced by spices, depending on salumi recipe.
    – moscafj
    Dec 21, 2015 at 0:07

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