But as more and more people want to know what's in their food, there is a growing movement to learn how to cure your own.
At the Salumeria in San Francisco's Mission District cured meats are hot. Making it is even hotter.
"This thing just asked to be aged, you know," Salumeria chef Matt Sigler said.
Sigler is known for his cured meats. He helped open the Salumeria earlier this year. When it opened, 20 percent of the meat was house made. And it quickly sold out.
"Hopefully three months down the road, about 50 percent will be ours, and in a year 100 percent," Sigler said
The Salumeria is just one of a growing number of places around the Bay Area and the country making and selling their own artisan cured meats.
"It's a really old world technique and tradition and I think that it was lost for a long time," Sigler said.
According Sigler, it is a game of patience. It can take up to 18 months for meats to cure before they can be eaten. Because they only make small batches, the end product tends to cost more than what you might find at the typical grocery store.
"You know from fermenting, to aging, to rotating, to introducing molds, and then being patient," Sigler said.
At The Fatted Calf in Napa they don't just sell the cured meats, they make them. And they'll teach you, too. They're bringing the art of charcuterie to the masses.
"A charcuterie is basically a place where meat products are bought and sold," Boetticher said. "So that could mean anything from a few different kinds of sausage all the way up to what we do, which is a bit of everything. It's an important craft that should be preserved and passed along."
Most cured meats are made with pork fat and meat, spices and curing salt. Combined, they are left to age by hanging to dry; some at room temperature, others in refrigerated conditions. Like cheese, mold can help define the flavor of the end product.
The classes cost $175 per person and are so popular they've already sold out through February. Everyone has their own reasons for taking the class, but everyone agrees it's a good time.
"I like to cook, and thought it would be fun to do, so here I am," said Oakland resident Gwen McDonald.
Napa resident Nina French adds, "I came to the class because I wanted to learn a little bit more about food and the food I eat, I figured I'd end up with this class either never eating salami again, or really loving salami and sausages and understanding where it comes from."
And Oakland resident Wendy Morin said, "It's the only cooking class I could get him to take with me, because it's kind of a guy sort of thing."
San Francisco resident Brad Robinson says he'd, "recommend it to anybody."
Salame makers say they welcome the renewed interest and even the potential competition.
"To me, the whole reason I got into this was because I wanted to learn something different," Boetticher said.
Sigler adds, "Just want to help be here to help educate people and help people, you know, enjoy food, you know, enjoy life."
Written and produced by Ken Miguel