Can you eat pepperoni raw?

In this paper, I will answer the question: “Can you eat pepperoni raw?” and I will explain how this sausage is made and how to properly store it.

Can you eat pepperoni raw?

Yes, you can eat pepperoni raw. Although pepperoni is uncooked, it is entirely safe to consume raw because the curing and fermenting methods have been used to preserve meat for decades.

When you think about pepperoni, the first thing that comes to mind is probably pizza. Pepperoni is by far the most popular pizza topping. But what is exactly pepperoni?

How is pepperoni made?

Pepperoni is a pork or beef-based uncooked sausage. Pepperoni undergoes a 30 percent weight loss during production, resulting in a water:protein ratio of 1.6:1. 

Fermentation occurs predominantly under the influence of fast-acidifying starter cultures, and citric acid is usually used to achieve the appropriate acidification speed. Pepperoni has a fat content of 30–35%. Lactobacillus bacteria is added to the mixture, which creates lactic acid that is essential for both curing the sausage and giving the pepperoni its sour flavor.

To make pepperoni, the meat components are sliced to a particle size of 4–5mm in the bowl-cutter before salt and nitrite are added. The obtained product is of a granulation of 2–3mm granulation. 

At the start of the cutting process, spices, starting cultures, color enhancers, and other additives are added to the bowl-cutter. Paprika is widely used to add a hint of color to a dish. Around 27–29 g/kg of sausage bulk contains salt. 

The mixture is then placed into sausage casings, and the filled sausages are hung on racks in a smokehouse, where they are exposed to warm (about 77 F) humid air, which initiates the fermentation process. 

Lactic acid is produced when the lactobacillus consumes the sugar in the spice. Lactic acid reduces the growth of dangerous bacteria that cause food poisoning in addition to giving flavor.

The sausages are smoked after fermentation, usually with maple and hickory chips. It can take up to five days for fermentation and smoking to complete. Following that, the sausages are transferred to a drying room  for a few more days. If the pepperoni will be used as a pizza topping, it will be sliced and packaged at this time.

When the pizza cooks, the thickness of the slices determines whether they will “cup.” Cupping occurs when pepperoni slices curve up at the edges, forming a cup, giving the edges a crisp quality.

What makes raw pepperoni safe to eat?

Pepperoni is a lactic acid-containing processed meat. The lactic acid comes from the natural fermentation process that the product goes through during the curing process. The meat dries up, cures, and destroys any bacteria present during this process.

Following this process, you will get a dried and well cured version of the original meat. And, because it contains lactic acid, it should be able to prevent the bacteria it destroyed during the fermentation process from regrowing. 

In other words, the germs eliminated throughout the process will not reappear during the meat’s shelf life. And, because it will be free of bacteria, there will be no need to cook it before eating it.

In addition to lactic acid, the majority of producers will also add Ascorbic Acid, which is a type of vitamin C. This chemical functions similarly to lactic acid. It does, however, have the ability to inhibit oxidation. In addition, the meat will not need to be fermented before being processed.

Based on the data stated, pepperoni can be eaten safely without cooking it.

What are the things to consider before eating pepperoni?

Even though it is safe to eat pepperoni without cooking it, there are a few things to consider before doing so:

Meat quality and freshness

If it isn’t stored properly, pepperoni freshness will quickly deteriorate. Furthermore, when the meat’s freshness deteriorates, bacteria may begin to grow on it.

As a result, before deciding to eat pepperoni raw, think about whether it has been stored properly. 

Check the use-by date

In most cases, producers will put an approximate date on the packaging. This date will indicate how long bacteria will not harm the meat inside. If you have a stick that has passed that date, it is recommended not to eat it, even if it has been cooked.

Check its dryness

Occasionally, a part of the flesh will get quite dry when it is not stored in ideal conditions. Extremely dry meat, on the other hand, isn’t necessarily a sign that it’s gone bad. The meat behind that dry region should be perfectly safe.

So, if the pepperoni stick you received has a dry exterior, we recommend cutting it off and using the remaining portion as soon as possible. You could also eat the leftover portion raw if you like.

How to properly store pepperoni?

Refrigeration

Place the opened container of dry pepperoni into a resealable plastic bag or wrap firmly with aluminum foil or plastic wrap to extend the shelf life.

In the refrigerator, opened dry pepperoni will keep its best quality for roughly 3 weeks.

Freezing

To increase the shelf life of pepperoni, it is recommended to freeze it. 

To prevent freezer burn, overwrap the original retail packing with an airtight aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or freezer paper, or place the package inside a heavy-duty freezer bag.

It will keep its finest quality for around 10 months if properly stored, but it will be safe for much longer. The freezer time indicated is for optimal quality only; dry pepperoni that has been stored frozen at 0°F for an extended period of time will keep permanently.Conclusion

In this essay, I answered the question: “Can you eat pepperoni raw?” and I explained why it is safe to eat without cooking. I also provided useful information on how it is manufactured and how to store it properly.

Feel free to contact me for any further information on this topic.

References

[1] Does Pepperoni Need to Be Cooked? 

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9781845690502500174 

[3] What Is Pepperoni and How Is It Made? 

[4] How Long Does Opened Dry Pepperoni Last? 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.