About Us

Underground Meats was founded in 2009 by Jonny Hunter
Quality Ingredients Sourced from Heritage Animals
Ethical Practice
Traditional Aging Methods
Wisconsin Pride


Do our Meats Contain Nitrates?

In a word, yes! Nitrates are a contentious topic with a great deal of misinformation and myths surrounding them, and we value the opportunity to inform our customers. Nitrates are used in meat production for three main reasons,

  1. Color  -  Nitrates are responsible for the pink color of cured meat.
  1. Flavor  -  Nitrates react to naturally occurring substances in meat which then provides a unique flavor.
  1. Preservation  -  Nitrates stops the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella.

    At Underground Meats, we use sodium nitrates in our products for safety and transparency. Nitrates can be derived from certain vegetables, such as beets, leafy greens, and celery. However, these alternative vegetable-derived nitrates are highly processed and classified as “vegetables” and not curing agents.

    Due to this classification, meat producers using alternative nitrates must label their product as “Uncured”, despite the product actually being cured. We find this practice confusing to the public and some producers have used this confusion to advertise their product as “containing no added nitrates”. If a product is pink, it has been cured using sodium nitrates, no matter the source.


    What is the White Mold on the Outside?



    If you’ve ever had one of our meats, you may have noticed some white dust coating the surface. This is white mold, but don’t be alarmed, this mold is your friend! White mold is perfectly safe to eat, and is similar to molds on cheeses like french brie. The white mold is penicillin based and comes as a result of the fermentation process. Mold offers two advantages when it comes to meat.

    1. Safety
    2. Flavor 

    During fermentation, our production team applies a solution to encourage white mold growth. The white mold is a natural deterrent to competing, toxic molds and bacteria.  After fermentation, we brush off most of the white mold, but leave some intact.

    The mold is perfectly safe to eat and offers a unique flavor and aroma. However, the mold and casing can be removed entirely if you’d prefer to enjoy your salami without mold. Simply wipe off the mold with a dry paper towel, a paper towel with a little olive oil, or use a sharp knife and remove the casing completely.

    In other words, white mold helps keep our meat safe and delicious while it ferments. So enjoy your salami with or without your friendly mold!

    Are Your Meats Safe to Eat at Room Temp?

    Yes! Online orders may take several days and occasionally over a week for delivery. This is no cause for concern as our meats are shelf stable and can be stored at room temperature!

    Our products are cured and fermented, which are ancient forms of food preservation that remain perfectly effective in modern day. “Good” bacteria are added to our product while still raw. These added bacteria consume compounds, such as sugar, and create acid. This process lowers the pH level, increases alcohol content, and decreases water activity. 

    The new influx of acid is the cause for the signature tangy flavor of cured meats. All of these factors prevent the growth of toxic, harmful bacteria. In other words, the healthy bacteria that we add turns the salami into an environment uninhabitable to harmful bacteria.


    "The 2019 James Beard Award Semifinalists," JAMES BEARD FOUNDATION
    "How the Sausage Gets Made," SAVEUR
    "A Hungry Trek for Cured Meats and Sausages in Madison, Wisconsin," EATER
    "Underground Butcher," EDIBLE MADISON
    "Butchering Tradition: Jonny Hunter Fosters Community Through Meat," CULTURE COLLIDE
    "Culinary Warrior: Jonny Hunter," UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON
    "Underground Food Collective," HERITAGE RADIO NETWORK
     "With a Restaurant and a Charcuterie CSA, Madison's Underground Food Collective is Underground No Longer," CHICAGO READER
    "The Underground Cure," EDIBLE MADISON 
    "Let's Eat: Underground Meats offers the cure for the common sausage," THE CAP TIMES