The term Cacciatore and its variants (e.g. cacciatorino) refer to “small seasoned salami that can be carried in a hunter’s pocket as a small meal.” The designation is both clear and mysterious. The ancient Etruscan origin of “salami dei cacciatori” dates back to about twenty centuries ago. The fact that they were introduced to the rest of Italy by their direct descendants, the Romans, explains the presence of these salamis in all parts of Italy. Cacciatori and cacciatorini were salamis hunters carried with them, along with bread, on hunts as a food that was suitable for their activity. A food that provided the right dose of fat for energy and high quality proteins rich in branched-chain amino acids. They are sufficiently salted to compensate for the loss of salt associated with long intense runs in pursuit of wild game. This type of salami was available in a “concentrated” form but, especially, with a savoury and delicious flavour to provide the ideal nutrition for hunters. As regards size, it depended on the estimated duration of the hunt. In any case, the small salamis tied in a row with string (filzetta) were the best suited and most appreciated, almost like today’s “single dose packages.”
The principal characteristics of the Cacciatore are related to the certification of Protected Designation of Origin. It is produced with Italian raw materials, and in total compliance with the traditional recipe for small salami that hunters carried with them in their saddle bags during a hunt. Hence, the ingredients used are only high quality cuts of pork meat, salt, pepper and traditionally a pinch of garlic, and never strong spices. At the end of a 10-day seasoning period, the salami must possess a well defined aspect, taste and chemical-physical characteristics, namely, small size (usually about 200 g); slightly curved shape; firm, non-elastic consistency. The slice is firm and homogeneous when it is cut. The colour is a uniform ruby red with well distributed grains of fat, and the subtle savoury flavour that is never acidic.
The code of production approved by the European Union establishes that Salame Cacciatore can be produced especially in Italy and, particularly, in almost all Central and Northern regions, the very ones from which the pigs can originate. As a matter of fact, the complete name of the Cacciatore is “Salamini italiani alla Cacciatora PDO” to indicate that it is an Italian product. Studies conducted in recent years report that the organoleptic properties of Salame Cacciatore are basically related to the particular production technique that is adopted, which determines, along with the shape and size of the fresh product, particular biochemical and microbiological processes. Despite the same initial mixture, Salame Cacciatore undergoes less acidification, compared to other salami. Moreover, transformations related to the seasoning phases do not alter the initial fragrance and subtle savoury flavour of the mixture, which are, hence, preserved. Finally, minor dehydration during the seasoning phase prevents superficial drying, which is, at times, found in salami that is submitted to long maturation periods.