Pepperoni is a cured sausage that is made from a combination of beef and pork trim, cultures and spices. Beef and pork pieces may also be blended with cayenne pepper, salt, anise seed, white pepper, allspice and paprika to produce pepperoni.
Other types of meat, such as chicken and turkey meat, are also used to produce cured sausage. The blending of the meat, preservatives and spices is generally done by mixing, chopping or grinding. However, injecting a solution of the preservatives and spices into the meat to be cured is another way of blending these ingredients.
Pepperoni is cured using sodium nitrite, which is normally used to cure meat because of its ability to develop color and flavor of cured meat, slow down the growth of botulism, or botulinal toxin, and retard the growth of rancidity, off flavors and off odors during storage. Sodium nitrite is often used even though table salt and some other spices can be used to cure meat.
After the process of curing the meat mixture, fermentation and drying processes follow. Drying reduces the moisture that is normally responsible for the growth of bacteria that spoil the meat. Fermentation of pepperoni also prevents the growth of bacteria, and it involves the conversion of the carbohydrates in the meat into acids or alcohols.