It's been two weeks since we hung the capicola up to age in the cold attic. I've already had to tighten the cable ties that bind them three times - the meat has shrunk by almost an inch in circumference, and the process is continuing nicely. Some changes we're looking for now as the aging goes along:
- The meat is done dripping. If you have pans or newspapers under your capicola, you can remove them.
- The casing's outer surface will no longer be tacky. It should feel cool, firm, and supple, and be almost - but not quite - transparent. You'll be able to see the dark red areas of meat and the creamy ivory areas of fat that were part of the pork loin.
- With the casing dry, the small bits of peppercorns that were clinging to the outside will be falling off if they aren't all gone already. Usually, handling the capicola to pull the straps tight knocks most of the peppercorns off by the end of the first month.
- A fine white mold will start to develop on the outside of the casing. It will first appear as tiny white spots, and you might mistake it for dried-out casing, but it will spread to larger patches. This mold may or may not end up covering the exposed areas of the casing. If you're making capicola "with me" and you're noticing this mold: RELAX. It's not harmful - in fact, it's expected. Slight variations in this mold are what give aged sausages their distinctive flavors, and why the capicola I'm aging in my attic will be subtly different than the ones my brother-in-law is hanging in his wine cellar.