Prosciutto is cured only with salt and air...no nitrites or nitrates. Ground sausages are sometimes fermented to help control unwanted bacterial growth; also, the promotion of harmless molds (creamy and white) on the exterior of dry cured sausages can act as a protection against undesirable strains of mold, etc...
Prosciutto is cured only with salt and air...no nitrites or nitrates.
The above statement is partially true, because Nitrites and Nitrates occur naturally in unprocessed salt as trace elements.
Rock salts were mined in different areas of the world and exhibited different properties which depended mainly on impurities contained within. Some salts contained nitrates and it was soon discovered that they would impart a pinkish - red color to beef and a pink color to other meats. It took more than 2,000 years to isolate nitrates/nitrites from salts and to understand how and why meats change the color. The fact remains that for thousands of years nitrate has played a crucial role in meat curing.
As for molds,
There are beneficial molds, and there are detrimental molds, the beneficial molds are white, and do not appear fuzzy. Not only do they help preserve the meat, they impart a special flavor indicative for that sausage..
Freeze-dried spores of beneficial mold strains can be purchased for a very reasonable cost, this helps you make sure the correct mold for the type of sausage you are making is present instead of relying on what you have in your geographic location.
Just as San Francisco has the preferred wild yeast strain for flavorful bread's. different area's of the world have specific mold strains which make sausage from each region special so it is difficult to reproduce the same flavor in a different part of the world even of the recipe is followed exactly.
Even if you brought a yeast or mold strain to a different area, the local flora would quickly take over and you would lose the strain you tried to preserve
Anyways, learn the secrets and follow proper safety protocol before attempting any cured, or dry-aged sausage or meats. A few shortcuts can create a deadly toxin with no off smell or flavor to make you realize it is going to kill you. Toxic Botulism spores cannot be deactivated by typical cooking temps, so cooking will not make a tainted food safe.
duck-breast prosciutto and bresaola are great starting projects due to their ease of preparation and you are dealing with whole muscle meats.
if you are dealing with pork, you have trichinosis to be concerned about, although it has mostly been made extinct in commercially raised pigs in the US, but at the same time the commercially raised pigs have the least flavor and wanted properties for cured sausage. The FDA has a meat freezing chart that outlines how to make sure any thrich. cysts are killed.