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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. Lebanon bologna has a distinct tangy flavor, moreso than other fermented meat products such as summer sausage. Hardwood smoking imparts a strong smoky flavor to the traditionally prepared versions of the product.
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 nowadays available in markets throughout the United States and typically served as a cold cut as well as an appetizer. Four versions include original, sweet, double smoked, and honey smoked.
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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