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I have such interest in such topics as I am Italian myself, and have a lifelong affinity for the old fashioned home made dry Italian Sausage that the old timers used to commonly make during the winter months in the Chicago Area.
Theirs typically was basically nothing more than a fresh Italian Sausage, and contained Fennel Seed, but one thing I recall, I never remember them ever using any fancy Cures, only salt, and probably a slightly higher percentage to aid drying. I imagine that could be dangerous, but never got sick.
I tried such myself a few times years ago, but it was hit and miss, finding the outside drying too fast perhaps, getting “Hollow Sausage Links” at times. Yes, I stuffed into natural Casings like they did, prick with a toothpick, hang, good ventilation, cool temps, etc.
My question would be pertaining to your questions in your post, you related that you dried for a period of 5 weeks time.
Now my question would be, what if you yanked the Sausage-Salami at say a shorter period, let’s say 4 weeks? What would the end results then be? Yes, a more tender product I’ll guess, but will there be any dangers in eating it would be my question? Or what other downsides to such would there be?
I can recall an old friend making this Sausage on the slightly soft side a couple times, and to tell the truth, it was the best I ever ate in my life.
I know an old trick that he did, was with the Sausage Sticks, he’d pack them in Jars of Olive Oil for long term storage. Not as good but of course still quite edible.