Sunday, October 3, 2010

Making homemade pepperoni

As promised in my Sweet Potato Pizza Crust entry, here is the information about how I make my own pepperoni. If you wonder why I make my own, I have a couple excellent reasons.

When I make my own pepperoni, I know exactly what is in it, including grass-fed, humanely-raised beef.
I was able to choose to leave out curing salts that can contain sodium nitrates, sodium nitrites, propylene glycol, and artificial color (often used to make this type of salt easily recognizable).

NOTE: Without curing salt, the meat will brown over the time in the refrigerator, and turn a deep brown when cooked. Friends and family that tried the finished product liked the taste and said the appearance did not deter them from eating the pepperoni. Since this is not cured meat, I freeze anything that wont be used in approximately 1 week. Pepperoni can be sliced when frozen and used on a pizza without thawing before it is placed in the oven.

2 lbs lean grass-fed beef
2 tsp ground pepper
2 tsp mustard seed
1½ tsp fennel seed (lightly crushed- I use a mortar & pestle)
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika (preferably smoked)
½ tsp sugar
2 rounded tsp salt

The spices make a beautiful blend, and smell amazing.
These can be mixed ahead of time  and stored in a jar.

Step One
Sprinkle seasoning mix over meat and mix thoroughly with hands. (I found that adding the spice gradually as I ‘knead' the ground meat allows for a more even mix, as opposed to adding all of the spice in one amount.)
Cover meat well, and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Step Two
Remove from refrigerator, knead/mix thoroughly.
Cover well and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Step Three (optional, or skip to Step Four)
Remove from refrigerator, knead/mix thoroughly.
Cover well and refrigerate for 24 hours.

Step Four
Preheat oven 200°F (app. 95°C*)
Remove meat from refrigeration.
Mix and shape into logs (I prefer 4 app. equal lengths)
Place logs on a metal cooling rack, place rack on a cookie sheet, and place in preheated oven for 8 hours.
Rotate pepperoni every two hours during the cooking process.
After eight hours, remove from oven, allow to cool, wrap and refrigerate. Any amount that you will not use in a few days, wrap individually and freeze. (This never stays around our house more than a month, and we haven't had any spoil, but always watch for signs of spoilage.)

Obviously this is good for pizza, but we have also eaten sliced for cheese and fruit plates, and one person ate this sliced on a sandwich.

*I use an online conversion chart and round up or down, as seems appropriate. Please adjust according to your judgement, and send me a message if you find an error. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

OMG, thank you, thank you for the recipe!!!!! Pepperoni in one thing that we've had to give up and I can't wait to try this recipe! This MSG intolerance has turned our lives upside down and I have had to "relearn" how to cook so that my daughter doesn't get sick. One more thing I can add back, YES!


Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

You are so very welcome, and I hope you enjoy this as much as we do. I've gotten a few puzzled looks when I offer to let someone try it (because it is brown), but once they taste it, everyone has loved it. By the way, this slices pretty easily, even frozen, so you don't have to plan ahead and thaw it out. :)

desireelu said...

I just found your blog and fell in love. I have just discovered just how dangerous nitrite cured meats are and was looking for a great pepperoni recipe. Could you please tell me about how long this pepperoni will last after it is prepared. I was told that nitrite free deli meats don't last as long so I was a little timid to make this and have it going bad. Thank you so much for your great blog.

desireelu said...

I just found your blong and am completely taken by the great recipes you offer. I have been on the lookout for a great pepperoni recipe. Could you tell me how long this will keep after it is completely prepared. Thank you so much for your information. This blog is the best.

Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

Thanks so much for you comments. I would suggest wrapping them and freezing anything over a week or two. I have even sliced frozen pepperoni, and it thaws out right on the pizza as it bakes.

Marlene Taylor said...

This is awesome! I can't wait to try it! Do you have any suggestions for bacon? Maybe doing it a similar way flipping in the fridge every 12 - 24 hours. Do you think it would cure with low salt? We use pink Himalayan salt on everything, but sparingly. And understandably we don't want to give up nummy cured meats.

Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

With bacon, I would definitely recommend that you do not go light on salt, because it helps preserve and inhibits growth of dangerous bacteria (see We actually found a commercial source for bacon, specifically a local farm (Thompson Farms) that we can buy online or from Whole Foods. They have only three ingredients: pork salt and sugar, and it is excellent bacon, IMHO.

Marlene Taylor said...

Awesome! Thank you so much! I'll look into the brand at Whole Foods. We live between 3 Whole Foods, but also next to another large healthy store that may carry it as well. Yeah, I didn't think we should skimp on the salt either when curing. Thanks!

Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

I hope they carry it in your area, or have a good substitute. Did you know that with Whole Foods, if you purchase a case of an item, you can get a discount? Ask if they do that in your area, and have them show you the number in a case on their shelf labels.

Unknown said...

I was wondering if you have ever tried to smoke your pepperoni instead of cooking it in the oven

Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

I have thought about it, Steve Bugden, but I don't have a smoker, yet. The idea seems sound, and I would think the flavor would be even better. Not having any experience with smoking meat, I'd love to have feedback from others that have had experience in that process.

Marlene Taylor said...

I wonder if a combo of using a smoking gun prior to cooking would also produce a smoker effect? I think this would be a great alternative to people who live in small places like apartments or for people who don't like the idea of taking on a huge smoker. We have a smoker and it is a lot of maintenance once a year. After the winter it requires quite a bit of cleaning. And thanks Heidi! We buy case discounts all the time! Our most recent purchase was a raw unfiltered apple cider with mother in it.

Marlene Taylor said...

Oh and we hot smoke raw/home cured meats all the time. My husband has found a few tricks for modifying current residential style smokers for more effectiveness. I'd love to get into cold smoking, especially for fish one day. The times for hot smoking fish and meat type vary, as well as type of wood used; and of course by size of cut. One of my favorite combos to smoke with is cherry and almond woods together; works for all types of meats. I also especially love apple wood for pork. The fruit woods produce rounder sweeter flavors for the often salty savory components people add to their cures. But all the hard woods like oak and mesquite work equally well. It's all about individual taste. I find oak can be a little too tannic for me in long smoking applications; and I've never personally been a fan of mesquite.

Heidi a/k/a Thistle said...

Those sound like great ideas, Marlene Taylor. I have no experience with any kind of smoking, but I am definitely interested in learning. I've been researching different smokers and when we have room in the budget, we were thinking of buying a smoker to start experimenting. I started making my own brauts and sausages, and that would open up some new variety.