Jessica Foust of Foustman's Salami. Photo by Robert Eliason.
Jessica Foust of Foustman's Salami. Photo by Robert Eliason.

With its distinctive labeling and 14 varieties of salami and pepperoni, Foustman’s Salami has become a fixture at farmers markets and local independent stores since the company was founded five years ago. 

Justin and Jessica Foust began in the food business with a company that sold specialty gourmet foods online before deciding to center their attention on just one product. 

“Both sides of my family are from San Francisco,” Jessica Foust said, “so I grew up eating San Francisco-style dried cured salami. We thought that salami was the right product at the right time. There are a lot of great things about salami: it is shelf-stable, you can create interesting flavors, and there is this movement in charcuterie as people are getting hip to dried meats.” 

The Fousts began working with a small company that made salami and partnered with them as they developed their own styles before starting their own business. Their focus has always been on unusual flavors and a variety of meats.

“Salami is traditionally pork, but we wanted to do something more interesting,” she said. “The lamb and turkey salamis are some of our more innovative ideas. They have been really popular alternatives with people who don’t eat pork, who are really excited about being able to eat salami again.”

Besides the lamb and turkey salamis, the Fousts have put their own spin on basic pork salami, infusing them with habanero peppers, cabernet wine, fennel, beer, and other flavorings to create a truly unique variety.

“You are working within set parameters so you have to be creative,” she said. “Because, at a point in the process, salami has to be produced dry, you are limited as to what kinds of ingredients you can use. You can’t use fresh garlic for example, because of the moisture in it.”

All of the salamis are Old World style and nitrate free.

“Italian dry salami is actually a term the Italians fought to use when they came to this country,” Foust said. “We are making it the way they did back in Italy, with no added nitrates or nitrites. It is cured with salt and a little celery juice, which has naturally occurring nitrates. And that’s it—it is all natural.”

Surprisingly, Foustman’s did not slowly grow their product line—they began with 14 varieties and have held the selection to that number.

“We started at the farmers markets and we wanted to go out with a large selection,” she said. “Part of the idea was that you would see a large display of flavors that you could not get anywhere else.”

The Fousts are planning to rotate seasonal salamis into their varieties, and are considering other flavors like sage and different beer-flavored salamis based on local brews.

While the business is centered in San Juan Bautista, the processing is done in a USDA facility in Oakland, where the meat goes through a fermentation process and then is hung up to be dried. The meat used is primarily sourced from California ranches.

The salami has a long shelf life due in part to the way it is processed, keeping up to 10 months unrefrigerated.

“It is a pretty hardy product,” Foust said. “Part of the preservation process is that it becomes covered in organic white mold. It creates certain flavors in the salami but it also keeps out bad bacteria and pathogens.”

Foustman products can be purchased online, at farmers markets, locally at stores like Windmill Market and Bertuccio’s, and at specialty locations such as B&R Farms, Bear’s Hideaway, Casa de Fruta, and The Smoke Point BBQ.

“We have tried to stay with independent markets,” Foust said. “We might try hitting up the big guys at some point, but we want to keep our growth ‘slowly but surely.’ It’s been organic—people have been coming to us and saying they wanted to sell our salami.”

I had a chance to taste a few different flavors of salami with Foust at Vertigo Coffee in San Juan Bautista, one of the local places that feature their product.


Some varieties of Foustman’s Salami

Pork San Francisco Style Salami ($15) “The main flavors here are garlic and black pepper,” Foust said. “This is what you think of when you are thinking of basic dried salami. This one reminds me of my childhood.” An excellent salami, with strong red wine flavors and heat that hits you in the back of the throat. This traditional salami, a big seller at the farmers markets, begs to be paired with fresh French bread, sharp cheddar cheese, and a bottle of full-bodied red wine. 

Pepperoni ($15) “I love the pepperoni, honestly,” Foust said. “I could eat this all day. It is great on pizza and it’s perfect to snack on.” Lightly seasoned, with a little bit of a spicy kick from the paprika that gives the pepperoni its color, this lacks the heavy saltiness found in commercial pepperoni. Made from beef and pork, this is a very nicely textured pepperoni with layers of flavors. 

Lamb Rosemary Salami ($17) “Lamb is one of those flavors that people might find a little challenging,” Foust said. “But we have definitely converted people over with this salami.” Now one of the most popular flavors, this salami was the surprise hit of the tasting. The rosemary notes are seductive and warming, a flavor you can almost smell as you taste it. This would be great diced and added to salad or pasta dishes or paired with fresh goat cheese.


BenitoLink thanks our underwriters, Hollister Super and Windmill Market for helping to expand the Eat, Drink, Savor series and give our readers the stories that interest them. Hollister Super (two stores in Hollister) and Windmill Market (in San Juan Bautista) support reporting on the inspired and creative people behind the many delicious food and drink products made in San Benito County. All editorial decisions are made by BenitoLink.