Original article posted on the MySaucisson blog here (in French)
First things first, let’s establish that we’re talking about dry sausages that went through casing and drying processes that allows us to eat them raw, which is nothing like the sausages you need to cook of fresh sausages like mortadella and garlic sausages! If the latter present a duvet-like white deposit on top, please, do not eat them!
The white powder you find around your dry sausages is the natural flora of your sausage or what we call, in French fleur du saucisson.
Let’s go back to the sausages themselves. We said that the casing of dry sausages is covered by a white powder, which is a natural flora. This is the real scientific term to designate this phenomenon. This flora usually develops naturally during the curing process of the sausages. Just like cheese (camembert, brie or Roquefort), there’s no need to add anything, as this is nature’s work.
Penicillium – The mold that works its magic during the curing a conservation process of sausages
The white powder that sits on the casing of a dry sausage isn’t flour, or bacteria, or saltpetre! It is a fungus, but not any fungus! Wer’re talking about penicillium. Bacteria and fungi are often feared, but most of today’s antibiotics come from bacteria and fungi like penicillium. The discovery of penicillin in 1940 revolutionized the treatment of ailments such as pneumonia, ear infections or meningitis.
It is the very same mold you can find on dry sausages and soft cheese like Roquefort. We apply penicillium at the end of the process, on the casing. In order to do so, we use water and a mix of carefully chosen micro-organisms that are useful during the aging process (just like cheese and yogurt) that we spray on the sausages.
This mold on the casing is useful for the curing process since it helps with conservation. It is good for us because it helps us fight infections, but it also adds to the taste of the sausages!
So next time you don’t feel like eating the casing, if it is made of natural materials, juste think about how good is it for you!