Lebanon bologna is a type of cured, smoked, and fermented semi-dry sausage. Made of beef, it is similar in appearance and texture to salami, though somewhat darker in color, and typically served as a cold cut or appetizer. Lebanon bologna has a distinct tangy flavor, more so than other fermented meat products such as summer sausage. Hardwood smoking imparts a strong smokiness to the traditionally prepared versions of the product; increasingly, inexpensive liquid smoke is used as a substitute for this costly time and labor intensive process.
Lebanon bologna was developed in the 19th century by the Pennsylvania Dutch of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, reflecting the slow-cured and smoked sausage traditions of northern Europe. Still produced primarily in that area, it is found in markets throughout the United States and typically served as a cold cut as well as an appetizer. In addition to the original, a sweet version is made.
Typically, the blended and stuffed beef sausage is aged for 10 days prior to smoking to enrich lactic acid bacteria and allow for the reduction of nitrate to nitrite. Fermentation occurs during the smoking step, which can last for up to four days. A one pH unit (or more) decline is observed during this step, as well as the development of nitrosohemochrome, the pigment responsible for the red color of cured meats.
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