A complete guide to serving and storing deli meats

Whether you savour salami, are a fan of ham or have a love affair with prosciutto, this guide to deli meats will tell you the best ways to eat them, store them and cook with them.

Did you know that when it comes to deli meats, fresh isn’t exactly what you should be looking for.
“Deli meats are not considered to be fresh. Fresh cooked perhaps is a better way to put it,” Pino Tomini Foresti, Owner of Pino’s Dolce Vita fine foods says.

“Products such as prosciutto, salami, pancetta and other dry cured meats, should be a minimum 2-3 months cured/aged before it hits any display window for sale.”

Pino, who has owned and operated his thriving, authentic business since 1978, makes all of his small goods by hand and on site, so he knows a thing or two about dishing up a decent antipasto platter, straight from the deli.

When it comes to salami, he says the diameter will determine its curing time. And if you've ever wondered why prosciutto is so tasty, there's a good reason. It takes at least 18 months to be cured.

For cooked product like ham, bacon, or mortadella the process is much shorter – it’s between 8 to 10 days.

When purchasing deli meats, Pino says there’s one sure way to know you are getting a quality product.

“If you see the cut surface in the display window of any delicatessen, and it is slightly discoloured, that is a good sign,” Pino says.

“This means that the product is not full of nasty chemicals and is as natural as can be. This is due to the oxidisation of the product.”

Pino Tomini Foresti, Owner of Pino’s Dolce Vita.

How to store deli meats

There’s one golden rule when it comes to storing deli meat – never wrap them in plastic.

“It is a cardinal sin to wrap any small goods in plastic, greaseproof paper, or any other packaging that does not allow the product to breathe,” Pino says.

“This will simply ensure that the product will go off.

“In order to ensure they stay as fresh as possible, avoid all plastic coverings, unless it is air tight, (vacuum sealed).”

While wrapping deli meats is not a good idea, ensuring they are kept cold is very important. The best way to store them is to vacuum seal after every use, which will stop the product from drying out and getting harder to slice.

If you go through the product quite fast (antipasto platter for dinner, anyone?), you can store it in a ham bag, or wrap it in a tea towel or paper towel.

  • Storing a whole cooked product: Make sure the ham bag/tea towel is always kept damp and rinse it out with warm water, add a pinch of salt and splash of red wine vinegar once every week. The more often you do this the longer it will last. Store in the fridge.
  • Storing whole cured product: If you can’t vacuum seal it, cover with a light coating of olive oil on the open surfaces and then stored in the fridge wrapped in a damp cloth.
  • Storing sliced products: These are best consumed within 2-3 days of been sliced.

How to serve deli meats

On pizza, in pasta, wrapped up in a panini or presented in all its glory on an antipasto platter, deli meats are not only versatile, they're delicious. Here are some of Pino’s favourite deli meats and suggestions of the best ways to serve them.

Leg ham (on or off the bone)
Our double smoked ham is great for panini, or just to eat by the handful.

Bacon short cut 
No breakfast is complete without PDV bacon, short cut option for the health-conscious bacon eaters.

Belly bacon/Streaky bacon
Real bacon, good for wrapping other meat products with a touch of the Smokey flavour.

Lardo Di Colonata 
Cured pork fat, cured for minimum 6 months in marble basins, seasoned with fresh herbs and spices. Generally used for flavouring dishes and wrapping meats to be cooked. It’s also a fantastic pizza topping.

Cured pork belly, a good amount of thick fat and slither of meat is the best way to determine how good the pancetta will be. Typically used in dishes such as Amatriciana, or can be used to wrap other meats and roast it. Our favourite way to eat it? Eat by the slice!

Cured pork neck, cured for no less than 4 months. Can be eaten by the slice or on panino. We love dishing this up with blood oranges and fennel.

A great meat to have on any panino with fresh buffalo mozzarella. If you’re planning to travel to Italy, this is a must try in any Italian city you visit.

100% cured grass-fed beef, cured for no less than 4 months. Great deli meat to be had with a fresh summer salad or on a panini with baked ricotta and artichoke hearts. Traditionally from Valtellina.

Brisket Pastrami
100% grass fed beef, brined then coated with our house made pastrami rub, naturally smoked and cooked. Perfect to make your next Ruben sandwich.

Silverside Pastrami
100% grass fed beef, brined then coated with our house made pastrami rub, naturally smoked and cooked. Perfect to make your next Ruben sandwich.

Pino's mistake pepperoni 
One of the salamis that came about as a mistake. Perfect on pizza, or to eat by the stick. It is one of our best sellers to a lot of the pizza restaurants around Sydney.

You can see Pino's incredible selection of meats at pinosdolcevita.com.au.

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