Sant’Olcese salame is a traditional cured meat made from of beef and pork that is produced in the upper Val Polcevera valley.
Sant’Olcese salame seems to have been produced since the early nineteenth century on the slopes of Monte Tullo in the upper Val Polcevera valley. However, it could be that some variants which appear similar to this product are much older, with the local knowledge of the techniques to preserve pork (including salting and smoking) dating back to ancient times.
The salami that is actually called “di Sant’Olcese” was probably produced for the first time in Orero, today a district of Serra Riccò, which until 1877 was part of the municipality of Sant’Olcese. A direct mention of this salami can be found in the Gastronomic Guide of Italy published by the Touring Club in 1931.
The preparation of the salami begins with by grinding the meat with the aid of a meat grinder. The texture of the minced meat must be coarse, while the pork lard must be diced to a predetermined size. Once blended, the ground up mass is mixed with black peppercorns, powdered garlic and other flavourings. The mixture is then stuffed into natural casings and tied by hand, which gives it its classic salami shape. The salamis are then hung (traditionally over a woodfired oven) in a room with oak or alder logs in the centre which, when burned, give the product a smoky taste. The maturation process lasts for at least 30-40 days.
Traditionally, the Sant’Olcese salami, being a product not intended for very long storage, was produced to be consumed in the spring together with broad beans and fresh pecorino. This dish still can still be found today but it is becoming increasingly rare to find place where the real Sant’Olcese salame is used.
Sant’Olcese salame has always been produced by skilled butchers who in ancient times purchased live calves and sent them away to farmers to be fattened in the Sant’Olcese area and in the municipalities of the neighbouring valleys. Later on, they were bought back at livestock fairs or other moments that were dedicated to the slaughtering of the cows. As it stands today, there are just a few families and only three butchers who still follow the traditional production method; there is also a sort of guild “The noble protectors of Sant’Olcese Salame” which takes care of organising events that encourage the consumption of this salami, such as the “Fave & Salame” (beans and salami) festival organised every year on the 25th of April.
The research activities necessary for the reporting of this product in the Ark of Taste online catalogue were financed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Policies, the General Directorate of the Tertiary Sector and Corporate Social Responsibility – notice n° 1/2018 “Slow Food in action: communities protagonists of change”, pursuant to Article 72 of the Tertiary Sector Code, referred to in Legislative Decree No. 117/2017.