Sunday, November 3

Homemade Pepperoni

Pepperoni has been scarce around our house for the last couple years. We try to avoid unnecessarily added nitrates/nitrites and commercially processed meats, which means regular pepperoni is off the table. Safe alternatives are few and far between, and everything I was able to find online was astronomically expensive.

Until it occurred it to, in a long overdue flash of insight, that I should absolutely be able to make my own. So I went hunting for recipes and discovered this recipe for homemade spicy pepperoni. The first batch lasted less than a week - we found excuses to eat some almost every day. The second batch I more strategically sliced and froze promptly, so it's holding out a bit better.  :)

(Please forgive the terrible photos.) Because I used standard sea salt rather than curing salt (which contains nitrates), the meat did not turn the reddish/pink that commercial pepperoni does. (If you look at the photos accompanying the recipe I used, you will notice that the curing salts she used did turn her batch a more familiar pinkish/red color.)

This took surprisingly little time, even considering that I ground my own pork. (Practicality based on what was available - not a Martha Stewart complex, honest!) You literally mix all the raw ingredients, toss them in the fridge and ignore them for a couple days. (I found the 72 hour batch better consistency-wise than the 48, and plan to make that my standard.) Then you take five minutes to roll it into logs and pop it in the oven, and another 5 minutes when it's done to slice and bag it. That's it! Less hands-on time than it takes to make a batch of cookies.  :)

Color notwithstanding, the flavor of this is right on for traditional pepperoni! Being a food geek, of course, I had to do the math and find out what the cost comparison was.

Ready for this?

My homemade pepperoni is between 1/4 and 1/3 the price of the (nitrate-free) commercial equivalent!! 

I used pork instead of beef because I couldn't get out to the farm and the beef options in local supermarket are spotty and unimpressive at best. I can consistently get antibiotic free, all natural pork for good prices, though, so that's what I went with. (Hence the 1/4 to 1/3 range - making the recipe with pork puts me at 1/4. Using beef from the farm would put me closer to 1/3.)

It cost me $5.27 to make a roughly 2 lb batch of pepperoni. (Started with just over 2 lbs of raw meat and the end product can be expected to weigh slightly less, due to the loss of water and fat.) Although I can't slice it quite as thin as the commercial stuff, my logs were wider than standard and it still goes a pretty long way (if you can restrain yourself to cooking with it rather than sitting down and eating the whole log straight off the cutting board!).

I know that making your own pepperoni is certainly not for everyone, but I hope that seeing that it can be done encourages people to challenge their own assumptions (as mine were challenged) about what we can and can't do to take more control of our own food security.

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