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Whether your sandwich contains bologna or corned beef, you want it to be at its most flavorful. ARS has looked at the source of flavor differences in beef, pork, lamb, and veal to find out what happens when it's aged in storage. They found, for example, that Lebanon bologna-a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch product-gets its distinctive flavor not from the use of old barrels, as thought. It comes from the amount of salt used in aging the meat.

An ARS scientist clanged the way that fermented meats like pepperoni and Genoa salami are made. He found that a bacterial starter stimulates faster, more consistent fermentation than traditional methods and guarantees a better product.

Other researchers turned their attention to lower-salt franks and corned beef. They reported that just about all processed meats can be made with 20 to 25 percent less salt with no risk of spoilage. Proper refrigeration, it turns out, is more important than salt level in retarding the growth of microorganisms that cause spoilage.

Photo by Scott Bauer.

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