The Differences Between High Quality and Cheap Deli Meats

Part I: Salami and Ham

When shopping for deli meats, almost every deli has multiple brands with some being cheaper than others. The average shopper doesn’t know the difference between cheaper and higher quality deli meats, but if you did a taste test you’d likely be able to tell the difference. The question is should you spend more money for a higher quality deli meat or are you better off going with the cheaper options?

Meat expert Eli Cairo participated in a taste test featuring both cheap and expensive deli meats. He tested salami, ham, bologna, hot dogs, and prosciutto. He was able to identify which was the higher quality meat and which was the cheaper one quite easily every time by examining and tasting the meats. Most of us aren’t meat experts, but here are some things to look for when choosing meats from the deli.

  • Salami – Start by performing a visual inspection. Look for mold on the outside and natural casing which adds flavor. Cut rounds with the casing on them are usually higher quality and look for a tender cut that has clear definition between the white fat and red meat. A yellower fat can be a sign that oxygen may have gotten to the salami. As far as taste goes, a higher quality salami dissolves nicely on the tongue. You can give salami a squeeze and a higher quality version will have a little bit of give to it.
  • Ham – Higher quality hams will be smoked over wood as opposed to using liquid smoke. A spiral cut ham is often a sign of mass production and fuller and plump hams may have phosphates. Smaller hams are more likely to be natural and look for dark and light browns on the outside. A better ham will be more flavorful and the color variation on the inside will be more noticeable from the real smoke.

In the next part of this series, we will explain what to look for when choosing bologna, hot dogs, and prosciutto. For all the highest quality meats in Redding, visit R&R Quality Meats & Seafood today at 2159 East Street or give us a call at 530-241-7770.

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