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Resembling salami in texture and appearance, Lebanon Bologna is an all beef, semi-dry, fermented, smoked and cured sausage. This dark colored sausage comes with a distinctive tangy flavor. The traditionally prepared versions of this sausage are infused with a strong smoky flavor through hardwood smoking.
The origins of Lebanon Bologna can be traced back to the Pennsylvania Dutch. It was strongly influenced by the European slow-cured sausages. In Pennsylvania, this sausage is served as luncheon meat and continues to be popularly available. This sausage is produced in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, from where it derives its name.
Bologna was patterned and developed based on German slow cured products by German immigrant farmers settled here. Lebanon Bologna is one of the most unique sausages made in America though it has its origins in Europe.
Since the 18th century, Lebanon Bologna has been popular food stuff in the Pennsylvania Dutch Country. This identity food is an intrinsic part of the distinctive culinary heritage of south eastern Pennsylvania. Those who were born and grew up here ate many a slice stuffed in sandwiches smeared with cream cheese or served fried with eggs.
Lebanon Bologna comes in four different flavors namely the original, double smoked, sweet and honey smoked. Realizing the undesirable effects it can have on quality of the final product, very high heat is not used to manufacture this sausage. Thermal processing thus does not exceed 120 °F (49 °C). As high heat is out of question, microbial growth is controlled through other processes and ingredients.
In order to allow for reduction of nitrate to nitrite and for lactic acid bacterial enrichment, the stuffed and blended beef sausage is aged at least for ten days before it is smoked. The smoking phase lasts for four days during which fermentation continues to occur.
Most manufacturers today use good quality lean beef. Savory spices are added in a special blend; the bologna is seasoned and smoked naturally in wooden smokehouses outdoors. Bologna is then cured in a gradual manner over hardwood fires that are hand tended.
As Lebanon Bologna’s distinctive taste comes from the slow smoking method, all manufacturing units have smokehouses constructed of wood in old designs. Walk inside the smoke house and you will be transported right back to ancient times.
Lebanon Bologna was once a seasonal product available only during the November butchering season. Today it is commercially produced throughout the year.