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Sausage Showdown: Navigating the Unique Traits of Salami and Summer Sausage

Sausage Showdown: Navigating the Unique Traits of Salami and Summer Sausage

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Both summer sausage and salami are a delicious snack that many of us love to munch on, but what is the difference between summer sausage and salami? After searching for answers I’ve found the following differences between the cured meats and the different ways they are prepared along with the shelf life each of them have.

From here, the difference between summer sausage and salami is basically the difference in moisture content between the two. Summer sausage is usually a semi-dry sausage in which the summer sausage loses about 15% of its original weight during the cooking or drying process.

Salami on the other hand is basically sausage that contains even less moisture than sausage. This is due to the drying process that the salami goes through. Where sausage looses about 15% of its moisture, salami loses more along the lines of 25% of its moisture content.

One other difference between salami and summer sausage is its shelf life. Summer sausage got it’s name from the time its made vs when it is eaten. The story behind it is that people used to make it in the winter or spring and it would be good to eat through the start of summer.

According to the USDA, summer sausage is good in the fridge for up to three months but once opened it is only good for three weeks. Salami on the other hand is good on the counter for up to 6 weeks and indefinitely if kept in the refrigerator.

4 Different Ways Salami and Summer Sausage Are Made (And Two Casings)

Prior to salami or summer sausage being made the meat is first cured. Curing salts are used to cure the salami which usually contain things like sodium nitrate or nitrite but sodium nitrite tends to be the most commonly used between the two.

For more information on how to cure your own meat for summer sausage or salami check out this article from Masterclass. From here, we can determine the difference between salami and summer sausage when it comes to the cooking methods.

The next step in making either salami or summer sausage is the meat is then ground up and put into there casings. There are two types of casings out there in which natural and collogan casings are available to do this.

Next is how they are cooked. There are four common methods to make these now cured meats safe to eat.

1 – Cooked, cooked summer sausage or salami is just what you think it is. The meat is cooked at a high temperature until it is done and ready.

2 – Smoked, smoked salami or summer sausage is still cooking the meat but it is usually done with something along the lines of lump charcoal with flavored woods for an extra smoke flavored product.

3 – Dry, dry summer sausage or salami is the most time consuming way to make sausage. According to the USDA this method is a more concentrated form of meat in which they lose about 20-40% of their original weight.

4 – Semi-dry, this sausage or salami making process is usually done by first cooking and then letting them partially dry.

For more information on the types of sausage and how they are made visit the USDA’s site as they have great information on it along with which type of sausage is most commonly made with each method.


The main difference between summer sausage and salami is the moisture content. After the salami cooking process is complete it will have 10% less moisture content than a summer sausage.

Once complete a summer sausage will lose about 15% of its moisture content and salami will lose 25%.

Both the summer sausage and salami are an excellent to serve as a side dish with cheese and crackers or even just a snack by themselves. One thing to note is the shelf life isn’t guaranteed.

Always consult the label on the package you have bought the product from or the USDA’s site. Other than that, enjoy which ever you choose to proceed with!


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