Artisanal Friulian salami being sliced on a rustic wooden cutting board

Salami, a cured sausage consisting primarily of fermented pork, is so much more than just a delicious pizza topping. It also makes a tasty addition to sandwiches and charcuterie boards. There are several different types of salami, including genoa salami, herbed or peppered salami, and, of course, probably the most common type of salami: pepperoni. Even though it’s a cured meat, you still need to ensure that your salami hasn’t gone bad before you serve it.

Finding mold on salami isn’t exactly a clear sign that it’s gone bad; certain salamis contain harmless natural molds. Instead, look out for these signs to decide if your salami is edible.

Salami Shelf Life

Salami’s short shelf life means that it’s imperative that you eat it relatively quickly.

  • Sliced salami deli meat can last in the fridge for only three to five days. Package it properly for storage by covering it in tightly wrapped plastic wrap or foil or in an airtight container.
  • If you’re planning to serve salami on a buffet or as an appetizer, let it stay on the table for only about two hours. Bacteria can begin to grow on certain foods at room temperature for longer than two hours.
  • To extend the life span of your salami, store it in the freezer in its original packaging, in plastic wrap, foil or in an airtight container. It can last up to four months, but to keep it at its best quality, aim to defrost and eat it within one to two months of freezing

Salami Color

Salami is known for its red color, so it’s quite noticeable when its color changes – and it could be a sign that the salami has gone bad. For example, if you notice any black fuzz or mold, discard the salami. If its edges turn a brown or gray color, toss it.

Don’t panic if you spot a white mold on the salami. Some companies actually use this white mold, or Penicillium nalviogense, on the salami casing to help with the aging process.

The same goes for the mold Penicillium glaucum, which could be blue or green in color. Of course, you should still question if a food is bad when you encounter any kind of mold on it. If you’re unsure, do some research, and if that’s still not enough, follow the basic principle of “when in doubt, throw it out.”

Salami Smells Like Ammonia

If you’ve noticed that your salami smells like ammonia, blame it on salami’s natural molds, which give off this smell. Thankfully, it’s harmless. The smell will also go away if you leave the salami outside of its package for long enough. If you find that the smell is too strong, though, you can peel the salami to get rid of the smell.

Genoa Salami Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Genoa salami is a type of salami that’s usually seasoned with black and white peppercorns, garlic, salt, and red or white wine. Sounds delicious; right? So, unsurprisingly, an odor of rotten eggs is the last thing you want to smell when you’re about to dig in.

While currently no information is available as to why Genoa salami sometimes smell likes rotten eggs, if the smell is rancid enough, it could be a sign that the food has gone bad and should be tossed. It’s also important to note that really dangerous pathogens can’t be seen, smelled or tasted, so be sure to check the expiration date and use proper storage methods. And again, when in doubt, throw it out!