The DOP branding of the Varzi salame is to be given only to products which comply with and follow, at every stage of their production, indications and pre-requisites listed in the Guidelines registered in the Commission’s ruling n°1107/96 dated 12/06/1996 in accordance with the EEC ruling n° 2081/92.

First of all, in order to follow production guidelines, farms must be in these three regions: Piemonte, Emilia Romagna, Lombardia. So must the slaughterhouses. Producers who wish to rear pigs destined for the production of Salame di Varzi must firstly request certification to the Certifying Institute which assigns them an identification code. Producers must comply with regulated farming techniques.

Pigs which are used in the production of raw material destined for the production of Salame di Varzi D.O.P. must comply with specific genetic characteristics. These farms rear the so-called “suino pesante” (literally “heavy pig”) which is the final result of breeding and in-depth research. Along with the techniques through which it is reared, the achievement of a heavy pig depends on its diet, which results in optimal daily growth. Pigs destined to be used in Salame di Varzi D.O.P. must be fed according to specific nutritional guidelines, which relate to the weight of the animal itself. When ready for slaughter, the ideal weight of the suine mustn’t be less than 150Kg and in order to achieve this its age can’t be under 10 months.

Raw material to be destined to production of Salame di Varzi D.O.P. must be obtained only from healthy pigs compliant with the required standards in order to be defined “heavy pigs”. The lean fraction obtained may be from all the animal’s flesh, excluding that of its head, hooves and tail. This sets Salame di Varzi apart from any other salame, giving the product its renowned quality and deliciousness. The lean part is therefore made up of: leg, loin, filet, nerve-free blade, lean bacon, minced ham and boneless, fatless and nerve-free picnic ham. The fat fraction is made up entirely of jowl, hock, bacon, rump and back fat. The ratio to be kept while preparing the mix must not be over 45 Kg of hard fat to 100 Kg of lean pork.

A salting mix is added to the butchered pork meat, which must not be frozen or treated in any way or at any time. This mix is made up of sea salt, potassium nitrate, or sodium nitrite, unground, uncut black pepper and garlic brewed in filtered red wine. The use of any other ingredient which is not included in the historical production guidelines is forbidden.

Preparation of the mix for Salame di Varzi follows these production steps:

  • Washing and cooling. Once the pork is sectioned, the chosen parts are deboned and its nerves removed. The clean lean and fat pork is then left to rest (for up to 48 hours) at a temperature between 0º an +6ºC. These conditions slow down the development of pathogenic microorganisms which may have been generated by previous handling.
  • Mincing. The cut fresh pork and the fat parts are then reduced to dimensions which won’t interfere with the mechanical mincer’s action, which otherwise could tear muscle fibres or squash fat parts. The machinery used in this phase is a mincer with holes measuring 10 mm when producing “torti” (formerly called “cacciatori”) and not under 12mm when making other types of Salame.
  • Kneading. The minced meat and fat are subsequently placed in stainless steel tubs in which, after the addition of a specific amount of salt mix, called “concia” (pronounced /koncha/) Salami (plural of Salame) are prepared. Salting is a fundamental step in the whole procedure: as well as guaranteeing its characteristic aroma and taste, it ensures proper preservation of the product over time. The whole mix is stirred so that the final distribution of lean meat, fat and salting mix are evenly distributed. No preservatives or colouring is added.
  • Casing. The mix is then moved into the casing machine. At one end of it pig “guts” (the pig’s small intestine which are previously prepared, washed in water and vinegar in order to purify them) are inserted. Only natural intestines are permitted. The gut casing used may be obtained from the small intestine, the rectum and called “cucito” if stitched once or cucito doppio if stitched twice. As well as the “bagetta” for salami under 500g bovine intestine may also be used (for “Tortos”). After tying them and before drying them out, the Salame di Varzi D.O.P. seal is applied to identify and guarantee the product’s quality.
  • Seasoning the Salame. Once put in its casing, our Salame is tied and verification of the string’s tension is carried out repeatedly. For the former task a string measuring 8/10mm is used and the product is then punctured. Identifying labels are applied in order to allow traceability of each batch. From this point onwards a slow but crucial process begins, divided into three phases: drying (10º-23ºC at 60-65% relative humidity for 6 days), pre-seasoning (15ºC at 70% relative humidity for 15 days), seasoning (12ºC at 85%-95% relative humidity till the end of the period stated in the guidelines. At this point our Salame is ready to be sold or may be placed in selected “cantine” (cellars) to be further seasoned. The first phase achieves the goal of dehydrating the Salame and making it lose weight. Benign and useful bacteria increase in number and inhibit potentially dangerous ones with their activity. During this time a rapid process of acidification takes place. In the pre-seasoning phase loss of water must be as uniform as possible throughout the whole mix in order to avoid excessive hardening of the peripheral areas of the Salame i.e. the “budello”. In this time, placed in ventilated rooms, temperature and humidity must be carefully controlled, according to specific guidelines which also depend on the dimensions of the Salame. It must “breathe” without drying too quickly, in order to allow its ingredients to penetrate and distribute themselves within the mix in a homogenous way. This cycle happens in specially ventilated rooms which use special systems and climate control equipment in harmony with the positioning and characteristics of the buildings which host them. The third and last phase, seasoning, is the longest being also relative to the dimensions or the Salame in question. Where possible, this process takes place in old, traditional cellars in the town of Varzi, in a completely natural environment with a microclimate which is unique: temperature varies between 10 and 12 degrees while air humidity is between 85% and 95%. At the end of the seasoning process in compliance with the production guidelines, the producers call the Certifying Institute to get it certified.
  • Final considerations. A last phase may also be carried out, called “affinatura” or refining, which includes a further seasoning of the Salame in order to improve its organoleptic qualities further. This phase is not in the production guidelines. Choice of a fitting seasoning room is fundamental in order to obtain a flawless product. The natural “gut” is in fact a breathing casing and can absorb aromas and smells from the room in which it is placed to season and be preserved. It is therefore essential to place Salame in rooms which do not present strong smells which would invariably be served on the dinner table with it. Periodically Salame must be brushed: this is done in order to remove moulds which naturally form on its surface and keep the “skin” breathing for the perfect conservation of our product. High quality traditional Salame available to today’s consumers is the result of the human ability to interpret modern people’s demands, those of a refined Salame. Because of this today’s production has to be perfect, through care for every technical detail, without interfering with genuinely traditional methods which are the foundation of the Salame itself. A producer who wishes to operate within the guidelines of the Salame di Varzi D.O.P production guidelines may do so only within the boundaries of the area above mentioned. As previously stated, Salame di Varzi D.O.P. belongs to a category of Salami which undergo fermentation of their contents.

Varzi Salame D.O.P. comes with a seal certifying its quality, which accompanies it from its production laboratories to the end of its seasoning. These are the traditional sizes in which it is sold:

  • DOP Salame di Varzi – Torto (Formerly called Cacciatore) – This name was changed due to the fact that a D.O.P. recognition was given to Cacciatora Salamini D.O.P).
    Minimum weight: 100 gr. It’s usually packaged in rows of five pieces, individually labelled.
    Minimum diameter of minced mix: 10mm.
    Casing: natural “bagetta” pig gut or twisted bovine gut.
    Colour: its meat is a lively red, its fat is white with shades of pink.
    Smell: strong, spiced, with a hint of garlic, winey. Taste: tender, sweet and delicate.
  • DOP Salame di Varzi – Filzetta
    Weight: up to 700gr
    Minimum diameter of minced mix: 12 mm
    Casing: natural pig gut.
    Colour: its meat is a lively red, its fat is a well defined white.
    Smell: intense, spicy and corpulent with a slight hint of mould.
    Taste: sweet and delicate.
  • DOP Salame di Varzi – Filzettone
    Weight: up to 1000gr
    Minimum diameter of minced mix: 12 mm
    Casing: natural pig gut.
    Colour: its protein part is a lively red, its fat is white.
    Smell: an intense perfume of seasoned meat, with a slight tinge of mould and yeast.
    Taste: sweet and delicate, a slightly bitter aftertaste. This aroma is associated with its
    long seasoning period.
  • DOP Salame di Varzi – Sottocrespone
    Weight: over 1000gr
    Minimum diameter of minced mix: 12 mm
    Casing: natural “sottocrespone” or “crespone” pig gut.
    Colour: its protein part is a lively red, its fat is white with shades of pink.
    Smell: an intense perfume of seasoned meat, with a slight tinge of mould and yeast.
    Taste: sweet and delicate, a slightly bitter aftertaste. This aroma is associated with its
    long seasoning period.
  • DOP Salame di Varzi – Cucito, a budello doppio – (Double gut stitched salame)
    Weight: from 1000 to 2000 gr and over
    Minimum diameter of minced mix: 12 mm
    Casing: natural stitched double pig gut.
    Colour: its meaty part is a lively red, its fat is perfectly white and in the correct proportions.
    Smell: an intense and defined seasoned meat odour. It mustn’t have any sign of rancidity or other smells.
    Taste: sweet and delicate, a slightly bitter aftertaste. This aroma is associated with its long seasoning period. A sightly sour aftertaste. It is defined as “the classic one” due to its traditional presence on the tables of connoisseurs.