Pepperoni is consistently named the best pizza topping year after year. But it’s not just limited to pizza. In fact, it’s also one of our primary ingredients for our popular pizza rolls and Italian hoagies. There are so many ways to enjoy this spicy sausage that we’ve tried it on nearly everything.
A Brief History of Pepperoni
Pepperoni comes from the word peperoni, the plural of peperone, which is Italian for bell pepper.
Although it’s often associated with Italian cuisine, pepperoni wasn’t actually invented there. In John Mariana’s book How Italian Food Conquered the World, the food writer and historian noted that “Pepperoni is purely an Italian-American creation, like Chicken Parmesan.”
Mariana claimed that there is no Italian salami called pepperoni and it’s long believed to actually be an American invention. Although some spicy salamis in Italy, specifically those found in Milan, have a similar flavor and color, the first use of pepperoni in print does not show up until 1919 in the United States. It was also around this time that pizzerias and Italian butcher shops began to pop up on the East Coast. (We wrote about it in our History of the Pizza Parlor blog post).
How Is Pepperoni Made?
Pepperoni comes from a mixture of ground pork and beef mixed with spices and flavorings. Salt and sodium nitrate are then added to cure the meat. This step prevents the growth of unwanted microorganisms. Pepperoni doesn’t get its color until after nitrate is added.
Lactic acid bacteria are injected into the ground meat to lower the meat’s pH balance. Lowering the balance allows it to become better preserved for later consumption.
Like other salamis and sausage, the ground meat mixture is then stuffed into casings and ferments for several days. From there, pepperoni is then moved to a drying room where it can stay for up to 20 days. After they have fully dried, the pepperoni is packaged and shipped. Depending on the manufacturer, some of it is sliced while others stay whole.
Is Pepperoni Pork?
In the United States, pepperoni is typically made of pork. There are also mixed varieties though, that consist of pork and beef being ground and encased together.
At Tuscan Pizza, we pride ourselves on using the best ingredients, so we asked our local supplier what exactly goes into pepperoni. Our sliced pepperoni ingredients include:
- lactic acid starter culture
- sodium nitrate
- other flavorings
- acids that aid in the preservation process
If you love pepperoni, there are plenty of ways to enjoy this cured meat at Tuscan Pizza. This popular topping is featured on the Works and Meat Lovers specialty pies. You can also get pepperoni in strombolis, calzones, and pizza rolls!
It’s a popular topping here in the US, but it’s not as popular in Italy. There are seven types of traditional Italian pizza, and they primarily omit pepperoni. More for us, I guess!