April 16th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
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To a charcutier, sausage making is a beautiful thing.

Rusty Bowers is the owner of Pine Street Market in Avondale Estates, Georgia. He and his staff create a range of charcuterie (cured meats) from every part of a pig, from an award-winning coppa and an 18-month-old prosciutto, to a wide variety of salami, bacon and hot dogs.

They buy whole pigs from a local farm, so creation of any given sausage format is closely tied to the production of all the rest. Bowers explained the process of curing salami and coppa, a symphony of salt, seasonings, meat and mold.

After the meat arrives, his team does the initial breakdown, separating certain large formats like the coppa (which comes from the shoulder) and removing all the little bits of meat and fat. The separated meat and fat are recombined later in specific ratios based on the kind of sausage or salami is being made.

It's also important for Pine Street Market's style of salami that the fat be refrigerated nearly to the point of freezing so that when it's put through the grinder, it maintains integrity. This produces a salami that still has discrete fat and meat when sliced, or as Bowers says, "like a kaleidoscope" when held to the light.

The team adds salt and seasonings to the meat, then reintroduces fat as it is ground. Liquids such as wine and the starter culture are added afterward.

The culture is a lactobacillus similar to the one found in yogurt, and Dextrose is introduced as a feeding agent. After the team stuffs the salami meat, they put their handiwork into in a "greening room" or fermenting room which Bowers describes as "similar to a rainforest." This humid environment kickstarts the fermentation process.

After a couple days the team checks the pH of the salami. If the number has has dropped enough, the meat is moved to the "cave" or aging room, which is maintained at 55 degrees and 65 percent humidity. The salami then age for about six weeks before they are ready for sale.

The cave aging and culture produce a white mold on the outside of the salami. Another benefit: flavor. Bowers explains that the culture is responsible for the "harmony" of flavors in the salami. Without the culture it would be a "single note...almost like a jerky." (Not that there is anything wrong with jerky.)

After it's separated from the shoulder, the coppa is given a dry rub, then is refrigerated in a tub with the other coppa for 25 days. The rub becomes liquid as it draws moisture from inside the meat, so the liquid is rotated every two days. Then the coppa receives a white wine bath before its six month stay in the cave.

Cuts become other products with the application of various combinations of smoke, salt, and age. Belly becomes bacon, jowl becomes guanciale, ham becomes...ham. But for high end offerings like the 18 month prosciutto, a careful prediction of future demand must be made. For a large ham to take up space for that long in the cave, a maker must keep track of how many are coming out at a time, and how many they'll be likely to sell.

Bower's favorite product is the speck, which is a ham that is both aged and smoked. He sees it as a synthesis of European refinement and Southern United States flavor.

"It's the closest thing we are going to have to a country ham while still celebrating the prosciutto."


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Filed under: Ingredients • Meat • Sausage • Think • Video

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soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Melania Remlinger

    People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) (stylized PeTA) is an American animal rights organization based in Norfolk, Virginia, and led by Ingrid Newkirk, its international president. A non-profit corporation with 300 employees, it claims to have three million members and supporters and to be the largest animal rights group in the world. Its slogan is "animals are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, use for entertainment or abuse in any way.":*..

    Newest short article produced by our web-site <http://www.healthwellnesslab.com/index.php/

    July 1, 2013 at 2:47 am |
  2. Saber

    PETA= People Eating Tasty Animals! Nuff Said!

    April 20, 2012 at 6:38 am |
  3. Josie

    To PETA, what would happen to those pigs and cattle and farm animals if we were to take your advice and let them live? They need food, so they go after the crops, they breed and are not killed of so they become over populated, we kill them because they are ill and can no longer use the meat! We would end up with a whole new set of problems. Our bodies have evolved to eat meat....we wouldn't be able to if we didn't. We can't get all our nutrients from vegtables, our body can't process them like cattle and those that eat just that. Plus you are still eating a living thing, it just can't cry or talk about its pain so it makes it easier for you to eat and consume. I love animals and own two cats, but I am not a vegan and never will be.

    April 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
  4. mmi16

    Until all the World's religions can settle down and discuss their differences around a feast of Pork Bar-b-que and beer – there will never be world peace.

    April 18, 2012 at 4:59 am |
  5. rrock

    No cooking, just aging/fermenting. Seems like it would be a good way to get sick. I guess it is the low ph that keeps people from dying.

    April 18, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • What?

      Low pH, low water activity, salt and nitrate (anti-clostridial). Has worked for hundreds, and probably thousands, of years.

      April 18, 2012 at 9:07 am |
      • James Shaver

        Thousands is the right number

        April 18, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  6. sybaris

    This story gets the Putzpuller Prize!!

    April 17, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
  7. Bob Swersky

    Sausage....Ditka......Sausage.....Da Bulls......Sausage.........Sausage.........Sausage........

    April 17, 2012 at 2:04 am |
  8. the truther

    Sorry I only eat atheist food. None of this halla or kosher food

    April 17, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Lovely

      What an ignorant thing to say.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:00 am |
      • Paul

        lol! or maybe it was a joke?

        January 24, 2014 at 10:07 am |
  9. physnchips

    I always think of that kids in the hall sketch. If you watch it, your sausage outlook will never bet the same.

    April 17, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  10. Daysoseese

    My understanding is that the Secret Service likes to use a pinch of salsa picante.

    April 17, 2012 at 12:21 am |
  11. Patrick

    Ok... so in the video and pics, they only showed meat being put into the grinder, but they say that they use the 'whole pig'. So where are the ears, snout, hoofs, innards, etc going??

    April 16, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
    • Schmedley

      Pet food, dude.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
    • Janice

      intestines are natural "casings" for sausage like products, and the other bits can end up in bologna, hot dogs, or "lean finely textured pork". look up "pink slime" to find the beef equal.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:23 am |
    • SixDegrees

      Different parts, different products. You don't just dice up the whole pig and throw it all in the stuffer.

      April 18, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • Paul

      Ears and snout can end up in coppa di testa or head cheese, which is actually pretty good. I don't know if hooves are used as food anywhere, but I suppose they could be used to get gelatin from. "innards" as you say, are used in all sorts of sausages – heart, liver and kidneys especially, but I'm sure there are uses for the glands and lungs as well. Probably 85% of a pig by weight is not only edible, but delicious when prepared properly.

      January 24, 2014 at 10:10 am |
  12. Nate

    This is how meat should be processed...in small batches...by individuals who work for small businesses and serve a local community. This lowers the carbon footprint of the food, and creates a local economy from the farmer who raises the hogs, to the butcher, to the meat market where the products are ultimately sold.

    If someone *were* to ever get sick from any of these meats, tracing it back to the farm where the animal was raised would be obvious. This just seems infinitely more *right* than how 99% of all meats are produced in this country....

    We can all learn something from this story...

    April 16, 2012 at 11:33 pm |
    • Patrick

      Its a free market... if you want the local stuff, feel free to purchase it at a premium. And yeah, it probably has less artificial additives and tastes better. But for those people that can't afford it, the large factory processed meats are an option. The market should decide, not government or idealists.

      April 17, 2012 at 12:01 am |
      • Janice

        Just properly label it so people can decide for themselves.

        April 17, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • AgriFacts

        Free market? Corn is subsidized. Put a bit more depth underneath your shallow conclusions.

        April 18, 2012 at 2:20 am |
      • Paul

        while being a little snotty, AgriFacts is actually right there. There is no "free market" in anything in the modern world, just the illusion of one so that conservative politicians have something to use as an excuse.

        January 24, 2014 at 10:12 am |
  13. Jay

    j u s t b u Y M e a T f r o M T h e s t O r E ,

    t h E n N o a n I M A l S h a v e t O b e k i L L e D

    April 16, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  14. dike

    and I thought the whole pig was put in the grinder and crushed up...

    April 16, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  15. This is fact...

    This is the funniest thread ever.

    April 16, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • This is fact....


      April 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm |
  16. Cavalier

    "There are two things in the world you never want to see made: laws and sausages."

    – John Spencer: The West Wing

    April 16, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • Squincher

      Chancellor Bismarck of Prussia (now Germany) first said that.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • craig

      For the record, let's give the credit to the man who actually said it first, specifically Otto von Bismarck. It makes much more sense if you understand that a German was talking about sausage. It's been re-used over and over, but it was Otto who actually said it the first time.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
  17. Resident

    CNN got it wrong: The spectacular Pine Street Market is located in the City of Avondale Estates, GA, not the City of Decatur. How does a new organization make such an error?

    April 16, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • Simon

      I don't know, how does a "NEWS" organization make such an error.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:56 pm |
      • This is fact...

        And then you left off a question mark! This is awesome!

        April 16, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • This is fact...

      Oh, also, Avondale Estates is not a city. However, Decatur is a city. Sorry to burst your bubble.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:09 pm |
      • This is fact...


        Thanks for the input on my screen name. You suck, dude!

        April 16, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
        • This is fact...

          Welcome. ;)

          April 16, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  18. Clark

    The meat is then put in "natural casings"?

    What? Couldn't just say they're packed into intestines?

    April 16, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • SixDegrees

      Well, no butcher would call them that, and it's true that there's a difference. Intestines are fairly heavily processed before being used as casing – they're washed, scraped and often brined or salted – and all that changes the product enough to justify a different name. Not to mention that it's useful to distinguish between casings, as just described, and their raw counterparts, which make for very funky hot dogs.

      April 18, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • What?

      Actually, depending on exactly what's being made – the casings aren't always "intestines" . . . but they are almost always SOME part of the digestive tract.

      April 18, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  19. Walker, Austin

    Turkish! How long till those sausages are done?
    5 minutes.
    5 minutes?!?! You said 5 minutes 5 minutes ago!

    April 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Eric

      I <3 you for this comment.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
  20. itoldyouso10

    Ok Earth, as I said in another article, as someone with dietary requirements I sometimes eat a little bit more meat (but very rarely pork), I think if you eat meat you should be aware of the suffering of the animal as well and what really goes on at industrial farms. I eat meat, but I am conscious of it's origins. I find it amazing how they played this pre-school documentary music to this as it can alter your perception of the whole story. Imagine if they played Beethoven's 5th or some other very dark piece of music to the same video (or if you do with this video on mute) how your perception of the whole thing could be changed just by that? Interesting think to think about...

    April 16, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  21. cwestions

    "I find salami to be the most sultry of all the cured meats..."
    Long live the pig!

    April 16, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • George Costanza

      Hmm where have i heard that before

      April 16, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  22. Ivanhoe

    for more insight read the novels - king of Bat'ha -- and sequel - Tales from the East: Return of Ivanhoe.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  23. bernie

    Daddy would you like some Sausage!! Daddy would you like some Sau – Sa – Ges!!!

    April 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • messer roebers

      Please keep your comments to yourself if you do not have anything meaningful to say.
      Thank you for your support.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
      • Tr1Xen

        ^^ Troll

        April 16, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
      • bernie

        what are you an admin? it's from freddy got fingered which had a sausage scene... relevant

        April 17, 2012 at 12:18 am |
  24. walkthetalk2

    Salami is fine and all but can we get back to bacon? Now that would be priceless journalism.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • messer roebers

      bacon is made from a pig ... just to let you know

      April 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
    • poopier7

      y eberyone hating on meat

      April 18, 2012 at 9:37 am |
      • poopier7

        i mean everyone oops meat is da best

        April 18, 2012 at 9:37 am |
  25. Jack Skellington

    All PETA members should not be allowed to receive life saving antibiotics since that would kill bacteria that have the right to live.

    April 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      Exactly!! ;)

      April 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
    • messer roebers

      There's clearly a difference between a bacterium and an animal. Any idiot would know that. You must have gone to a public school.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
      • Tr1Xen

        Okay, let me ask you something, then. We'll stick to animals for this argument. If you're wandering the jungle in Africa, and a hungry lion happens to smell you, do you think he's going to think it's wrong or unethical to pick you up by the neck, swing you back and forth until your head falls off, and then devour what's left of you?

        April 16, 2012 at 9:22 pm |
        • messer roebers

          You are so stupid.
          nuff said.
          Yee Haa!!! go cowboys

          April 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          @messer roebers Isn't it past your bedtime? Surely you can't be older than about 12.

          April 16, 2012 at 9:30 pm |
        • CE

          Since you seem to be suggesting that we should only act as intelligent as Lions, why stop there? I bet if a rock fell on you it wouldn't even care, so why don't be base our moral codes on that of rocks? I eat meat, but your argument is stupid.

          April 16, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
        • Eric

          only if you are wearing a top hat and a monocle

          April 16, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
      • AgriFacts

        With a fine logical conclusion like that you must've gone to...no school at all?

        April 18, 2012 at 2:22 am |
      • ShudderPuppet

        Public schools...? really, and you just revealed your ignorance...somehow, your point was not taken by that comment. You don't deserve meat.

        May 5, 2013 at 8:46 pm |
    • MashaSobaka

      roebers, pro tip: If you want people to take what you have to say seriously, leave out the classist "Oooh, look at the publicly-educated mongrels" bull$hit, yeah?

      April 16, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  26. messer roebers

    sounds like soylent green. yuck!!!! yuck .... buckaroo

    April 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • Yossarian

      Go back to bed, child. It's past your curfew.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • bernie

      And your telling ME to not make useless comments... idiot

      April 17, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  27. LDeCarlo

    Anyone wanna see my Italian sausage? The ladies love it. haha

    April 16, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • messer roebers

      if you have to brag about your sausage, it must be tiny. ..... you should see mine!!!

      April 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • Tr1Xen

        So you're a PETA member and you're showing your sausage off to our friend with the miniscule ding-dong here... Somehow, I just knew you too would bond! ;D

        April 16, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      Your mom doesn't count.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
      • messer roebers

        you're an idiot, surely from Canada

        April 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          Texas, actually. I'm glad you think I'm an idiot, too. The feeling is mutual!

          April 16, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Jeremy

      Please grind it up and stick it in a Condom first.. or any casing

      April 16, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
  28. messer roebers

    Meat is disgusting. As a member of PETA, this article shows how stupid and uncaring humans are to animals. Please stop the animal massacre
    thank you for your support

    April 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm |
    • Tr1Xen

      LMAO!!! You must be joking. Every year at Thanksgiving I send a card to PETA scented with poultry seasoning and a nice little note that says, "HAPPY TURKEY DAY!" ;)

      April 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • messer roebers

        you surely have a tiny member and brain too!!!

        April 16, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          I'll bet the food on my dinner tastes better, though!

          April 16, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          dinner *table =P

          April 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
        • MashaSobaka

          So, you insult people who don't have the money for private education, and then you go after their masculinity (because masculinity determines the worth of a human being, I presume)? Wow. What a shining example of humanity you are. News flash, you silly thing: PETA kills animals by the dozen. The difference between a humanely-raised and humanely-killed pig and the animals that PETA exterminates are that the pig gets to serve a purpose after being killed instead of being chucked into an incinerator. PETA is a ragtag group full of ignorant hypocrites who do not care about what is actually good for animals so long as they get to feel big and smart. Needless to say I don't have a shred of respect for the organization, or its supporters.

          April 16, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
        • messer roebers

          PETA kills animals by the dozen??? Huh?? Where do you get your facts?? Please don't spread untruths.

          April 16, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          @MashaSobaka Well said, and it's sad too... One of my favorite musicians (Trent Reznor) is a PETA supporter. Hey, I can still like his music without liking his politics!

          April 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          @messer roebers Google it. You'll find plenty of sources, trust me!

          April 16, 2012 at 9:38 pm |
    • Chris

      I hope you are not wearing leather shoes or taking medication in a gelatin pill...

      April 16, 2012 at 9:29 pm |
      • messer roebers

        leather doesn't count since the animal is already dead. I only wear leather made from roadkill

        April 16, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
        • Tr1Xen

          I just turned the AC down and put on my fox pelt coat just for you, buddy! ;)

          April 16, 2012 at 9:39 pm |
    • c smythe

      I don't much care how my food is processed as long as it is safe to eat. Unnecessary cruelty to food is wrong but having worked on a farm, some times the food doesn't want to get on the truck to got to market. That is just how it is. PETA has no right to tell me what I can eat. Humane treatment of food perhaps but NOTHING more . . . I want cheap safe eggs, chicken, beef and pork on MY table. What you put on your table is your business.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
      • messer roebers

        Of course it is PETA's business and my business what cruelty sadists and their enablers like you inflict on innocent animals. You should be ashamed of yourself for even speaking like that. you probably have no idea how neanderthal you sound.

        April 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm |
    • Pain In The Posterior

      Get back outside. The sand misses your head.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • Eric

      I tried eating only plants but none of them bleed and can be cooked medium rare

      April 16, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
    • poopier7

      there u go hating on meat again wat everyones problem ta just meat eat dude really not so bad

      April 18, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • Leo

      Do you know how many animals are killed in order to till and plow the fields where they plant crops? Do you know how many biomes are destroyed to create agricultural space for plants? You'd better stop eating plants, too. You wouldn't want to be responsible for the death of a gopher beneath a tractor.

      April 18, 2012 at 11:38 am |
  29. Nick

    Why'd you skip the first half?

    April 16, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  30. Truth™

    I think it was Mark Twain who said that you should never watch laws or sausage being made. Seems appropos...

    April 16, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
    • JeffinIL

      If he were around today, he'd probably also include, don't ever read the label on hot dogs.

      April 16, 2012 at 9:40 pm |
    • Yossarian

      I've heard it attributed to Otto von Bismarck.

      April 16, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • craig

      And...you'd be wrong. The first person to utter those words was Otto von Bismarck.

      April 16, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
      • Lovely

        craig, read before posting your duplicate comments.

        April 17, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • vudutu

      Actually it was neither. This is a favorite quote of mine, many variations exist, I always attributed it to Bismarck, my version is. "anyone who appreciates politics and sausage should not watch either being made".
      But first reference is actually from John Godfrey Saxe
      From Wikiquote* Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.
      o As quoted in University Chronicle. University of Michigan (27 March 1869) books.google.de, Daily Cleveland Herald (29 March 1869), McKean Miner (22 April 1869), and "Quote... Misquote" by Fred R. Shapiro in The New York Times (21 July 2008); similar remarks have long been attributed to Otto von Bismarck, but this is the earliest known quote regarding laws and sausages, and according to Shapiro's research, such remarks only began to be attributed to Bismarck in the 1930s.

      April 17, 2012 at 7:18 am |
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