INTRODUCTION: I don't know about you, but my image of sausage depicts delicately spiced meats stuffed in casing and grilled to perfection; but I wasn’t sure I was capable of creating such a product. At first, I made only sausage patties, because I wanted to see if sausage making was for me before investing in a bunch of equipment that I may never use again. Also, I just made one pound test batches; I wanted to determine if I liked the particular spicing!
The most important item needed for sausage production, however, is clean equipment. Before any sausage making begins, I wash all of my sausage making equipment (my stuffer bowl, grinder parts, bowls and measuring spoons) in the dishwasher; then, I wipe the counter surfaces down with a 10% bleach solution. I also use latex gloves when handling meat and mixing in the spices. Generally I use dried whole spices --make sure they're fresh---and grind them to a fine powder. I always chill my meats to the slightly frozen state before grinding them so as to obtain a nice clean cut!
I realized that sausage making equipment need not be extensive nor expensive. For example, I started with a Universal Chopper that I picked up in a second-hand store for $2.50...that was it. As my proficiency grew, I added to and upgraded my equipment. First, I bought a new 3/4 hp #22 grinder, then a vertical stuffer. Recently I added a Bradley smoker to my equipment. My last purchase was a good meat slicer. For making dry-cured sausage, you'll need to provide humidity and temperature control. An incubator was needed and I constructed one out of an old freezer chassis I got at the dumps!
A note on sausage formulas: Most formulations are my own creations, some have been copied and referenced from various sources. Those with my signature are my own creations. Others have been submitted to me for consideration and posting and their source identified. Feel free to adapt the ingredients and amounts to your own tastes; the formulas here are only meant to be guides.
Page last edited on July1, 2013-
Copyright © 2001-2013 Len Poli - Sonoma Mountain Sausage - All rights reserved
It’s my position that before you begin making sausages at home, you educate yourself about matters of health and safety. Realize that by the time meat reaches the butcher counter, it has gathered a number of different kinds of bacteria just from handling. Some of these bacteria can cause severe gastrointestinal consequences. Common bacteria like E. coli, Listeria sp. Salmonella sp. can be easily transferred to the meat. You must learn how to discourage the growth of harmful organisms in the ground meats you use for sausage making. I found guidelines for the treatment of pork and pork products with regards to health on the both USDA and Canadian Food Inspection Agency websites (see links) to be very helpful. Always be careful to prevent any further contamination and to always keep the temperature of the meat low enough to discourage further bacterial growth. Keep the meat refrigerated until its ready to be ground, and return it immediately to the refrigerator as soon as possible.
Cleanliness is a major factor
in preventing foodborne illness. Everything that touches food should be
clean. Kep the following steps in mind to help prevent food borne illness by
safely handling food in your home. You should wash your hands before and
after handling meat (especially uncooked raw meat, poultry, or fish and
their juices). Wash your hands (gloved or not) with warm, soapy water for 20
seconds with warm, soapy water. If your hands have any kind of skin abrasion
or infection, always use clean disposable gloves. and don't forget to was up
after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Record copious notes of your procedure, changes in formula, cooking method, temperature, etc.
Before you begin any sausage making endeavor:
Meats used in Sausage Making
A number of different kinds of meat are suitable for sausage. But the most common are the United States are pork, beef and poultry. Mutton and lamb may also be used. Hunters will often include game meats in their sausages, like venison, elk, antelope, duck, goose and pheasant. My suggestion for game meats, however, would be to substitute pork fat for the “wild” fat, where dietary and religious regulations permit. Fat is necessary for both taste and texture in sausage; if you want to leave out the fat, forget making sausage and make a meat loaf and substitute bread for the fat! How much fat? That varies, some sausages are made with a total fat content of 20%; others up to 50%. If sausage contains more than 50% fat, you must call it “imitation” sausage.
The shoulder is a good and economical choice for both pork and beef sausages; Pork shoulder is often marketed commercially as “Boston Butt or Pork Shoulder Butt”, while beef shoulder is called “Chuck”. The desirable fat to use in sausages is the hard fat that comes from above the shoulder, that over the loin (back fat) or the belly around the ribs (bacon). Today's primal cut pork shoulders contain about 20% fat!
Prepare the meats for sausage by removing any bones. Next, look for and remove any glandular meat between the muscle bundles—it will have a quite different texture and color than the muscle meat and give a bitter taste to your sausage. Trim away all silver skin (connective tissues: tough, thin shiny sheets) and any tendons (tough, dense white fibrous sheets). Remove any visible blood vessels, also. Save any small pieces of edible meat and fat from this trimming, but don’t mix it in with the “regular” meat you just trimmed….grind it separately. The picture on the right shows me boning out a pork shoulder butt.
The picture on the left shows Glenn, my “sausage-making buddy”, grinding up some pork shoulder. Once you start making and sharing sausages, you'll find that there are other people who make sausages or want to learn. Although sausage making can be an individual thing, its much more fun when you have a buddy who also loves sausages! You'll practice with spicing and types of meats, the size of grind, etc. You may make a formula that would be a sure winner in a sausage-making contest!
We buy the pork in vacuum sealed bags...they come two “butts” to the bag and weigh in at a total of about 15-18 pounds (or 7-8 kilograms) Some of you will be lucky enough to raise your own pork, I’m jealous!
In my recipes, I often use the terms 95/5, 80/20 and 50/50. The first number refers to the lean portion of the meat and the second number refers to the fat portion. Back fat is 100% fat!
FRESH SAUSAGE: I think of fresh sausage as a sort of "meatloaf" in a casing. Anyone that can make a “meat-loaf” can make fresh sausage! My definition of a fresh sausage is one in which NO curing is required in making the sausage. Fresh sausage is made of raw meat, salt, and seasonings and always is cooked before eating. The amount of salt present in fresh sausage formulations is not necessarily sufficient to cure the meat. Because the meat is not cured, it must be kept under refrigeration. They usually take the form of links or patties. Fresh sausages are very perishable and should be used within several days of their being made...or else they should be frozen. In my opinion, the beginning home sausage maker should gain extensive experience with making fresh sausage, before attempting to make cured sausage. They are not difficult to make. There are a few simple procedures to follow and precautions to observe, however.
A very simple general formulation for any fresh sausage is:
As you develop your own particular formula, you will want to experiment with small batches of sausage. I recommend making one kilogram batches (1,000g or about 2¼ lb.) This mass will give you enough bulk to thoroughly mix the ingredients and get an even blend. Taking the above formula recommendation, multiplying the percentages by a factor of 10 (Yuk — math!) will give you:
Now you know why your 8th grade teacher stressed learning multiplication and decimals…wait until we get to biology, chemistry and physics…and you thought you’d never need to know them!
Let’s examine each ingredient in the general formula of fresh sausage:
COOKED SAUSAGE: Cooked sausages require the application of some sort of cure and heat as part of the formulation and preparation, such as oven-cooking, poaching, steaming, etc. Cooking causes the denaturation and coagulation of proteins in the sausage which allows it to maintain its shape. Smoke may or may not be a necessary part of the preparation. Generally these sausages may be eaten without further heating, as in the case of luncheon meats like bologna, mortadella, and cooked salami. Some like Kielbasa, hotdogs, hot links, etc. are re-heated before serving. Luncheon meats and hot dogs are a type of cooked sausage often referred to as emulsion sausages where the meat paste is so finely chopped that no individual particles of meat can be seen in the sausage matrix. In order to understand how these sausages are made, some background information on the nature of meat and proteins is essential.
What is meat? Meat is composed of fat, nerve, tendon, ligaments, sinew and muscle fibers. The muscle fibers, in turn contain proteins some which are soluble and some that are not. The major components of muscle protein are actinomyosin and myoglobin (myoglobin is the red pigment in meat and actinomyosin composes the contractile fibers of the meat).
Proteins are made up of long chains of smaller molecules called amino acids. Folds in the amino acid chain produce the shape of the protein and it’s that specific shape that determines the protein’s chemical and biological properties. In living tissue, the function of a protein is dependent on this three-dimensional structure. Changes in the protein’s environment will disrupt this structure causing the protein to become “denatured”. This causes the complex folds and twists in the 3-D structure to break and become linear. These changes can affect their affinity for water and their solubility. Such environmental changes can cause by:
EMULSIONS: An sausage emulsion results is a homogenious mechanical mixture that results from meat that is ground so finely that it encapsulates the fat. These encapsulated droplets are then dispersed in liquid, in sausage this is generally ice water
These steps are important. The first chopping with water and salts results in the extraction and solubilization of SSHCP so necessary for forming a stable emulsion. As the mixing continues in the second chop, the remaining water and flavorings are absorbed by the meat emulsion, contributing to its taste, moisture and “mouth-feel”
As in the case of making fresh sausages it is extremely important to maintain your raw materials at a temperature of 400F. Failure to do so can encourage the growth of bacteria that lead to illness or spoilage. It is important to remember that bacteria grow best between 400F to 1400F. When cooking sausages, make sure they pass through this range quickly. For safety reasons, I recommend the use of a nitrite cure in all cooked sausages to help control spore forming bacteria and provide pleasant color retention of the product. The cooked sausage must attain a final internal temperature of 155-1600F in order to kill any pathogenic bacteria.
There are two main cooking methods employed in sausage making that can easily be used by the hobbyist sausage maker: Dry-heat and moist-heat. However nothing is really that simple. Often both kinds of cooking are used on a particular sausage. Dry-heating can also include the application of smoke to flavor and color the sausage.
Generally cooked sausages are prepared in a “Cook House” or smoker. There are a number commercial smokers are available to the sausage hobbyist. They can be purchased in many home-improvement centers, sporting goods catalogs, or barbeque stores. However a homemade smoker can be easily constructed from an old refrigerator, freezer or even made of plywood. If you make one out of an old refrigerator make sure it is lined with metal, not plastic. The basic construction consists of a metal box, a heat source [such as an electric hot plate] and a pan for hardwood chips or sawdust. Drill some vents at the top and bottom for draft controls to allow you to regulate the temperature and smoke.
When using sawdust or wood chips as the smoke source spritz them with water and place them in a pan on the hot plate so that they smolder and produce smoke. If you are smoking in a barbecue grill or kettle unit, keep the hot coals to one side of the grill and regulate the heat by adjusting the vents. Sprinkle damp sawdust or wood chips over the briquettes to produce the smoke. An excellent reference for constructing smokers is “Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design” by S., A., & R. Marianski [see my resource page].
Cooked sausages can be made in the form of links, rings, rolls, or loaves. A general formulation for a cooked sausage is very similar to that of a fresh sausage, but with some important additions. The most important difference is that ingredients include nitrite cure and often some sort of binding agent [Some examples are phosphates, non-fat dry milk, and soy protein].
Generalized Cooked Sausage Formulation:
Let’s examine each ingredient in the general formula for cooked sausages.
SMOKED SAUSAGE: Cooked sausages are often smoked in order to enhance their flavor and color as well as helping to extending the shelf-life of the sausage. It is important to understand that such smoking does not completely preserve the sausage unless it was somewhat dried [more about this later]. In general, sausages to be smoked are air-dried at an ambient temperature of approximately 680F and a relative humidity of approximately 60-65% to allow surface water on the casing to evaporate. Be careful not to over-dry the casing or the smoke will not penetrate at all. Smoking can be done by either the hot or the cold method.
Sausage makers use the hot-smoke method for sausage that is to be partially or completely cooked in the smoker. After drying the outer casing, smoke is generated while the sausage is cooking. The casing should be dry to the touch or the “bitter” elements that compose wood smoke will be deposited on the sausage giving it an off taste. For good smoke penetration into the sausage, it is important to have a relative humidity of about 45%. Color development of a smoked sausage is proportional to increase in temperature -- i.e., the more rapidly the temperature increases, the faster the color of the sausage will develop. This is the reason why many formulations suggest a temperature-holding schedule.
The cold smoking method is generally used to impart a rich smoky flavor without cooking the sausage. Often cold smoking is used as a drying method for sausages, meats and fish. In addition to drying the product, the smoke adds color and flavor to the sausage. Products like mettwurst, teewurst, liverwurst, bacon are often cold smoked. Temperature is a critical component of cold-smoking. Try to keep the temperature range between 95-1100F. Depending on which product is being produced, schedules vary from a few hours to many days in order to get the proper flavor, color and dryness.
A simple set-up that I use is disconnect the hot smoking unit from my Bradley smoker. Then I put a 110 VAC hot plate on a rack in my bullet-type smoker. I replace the bullet top with a piece of aluminum roof flashing with a 4-inch opening. Then I connect one end of an 6-foot section (it can be longer) of 4-inch aluminum dryer-ducting the flashing and the other to a 4-inch opening in my Bradley smoker. All that's needed now is a small cast iron pan on top of the hot-plate and a good source of smoking wood. I've tried hardwood sawdust, but in this set-up I prefer hardwood chunks.
A possible alternative to smoking in an oven is the use of liquid smoke. For example to produce a smoke flavor in sausage loaves cooked in molds, liquid smoke is added to the water in the formulation at a rate ½ teaspoon/ pound [or more accurately 5.4 ml/kilogram] of meat paste.
Not long ago a came across anothr neat way to make a cold smoker from a galvanized garbage can. The web site is called "Started Smoking...Meat" at Mamaliga.com . Check it out. Another one along similar lines was built from parts totaling about $50. Check out Cruftbox. No need to sped a lot to get excellent cold smoked sausage, meats, fish and cheeseThe picture of mine, using a Bradley Smoker, will do both hot and cold smoking depending on how I set it up.
Before we continue with the discussion of fermented sausage (below), it's necessary to have an operational definition of pH. Acids in water separate into ions (Atoms with electron imbalances are called ions), and the positive ion is hydrogen (H+). When hydrochloric acid (HCl) mixes with water, it separates into positive hydrogen (H+) and negative chlorine (Cl-). Hydrogen (H+) combines with water (H2O) to make hydronium (H3O+). Bases in water also separate into ions, and the negative ion is hydroxide (OH-). When the base sodium hydroxide (NaOH) mixes with water, it separates into positive sodium (Na+) and negative hydroxide (OH-).
The pH-value indicates the degree of acidity in the meat. Acids all produce Hydrogen ions (H+). Acids like Hydrochloric acid (HCl) produce lots of Hydrogen ions. Chemists write "hydrogen ion concentration" as [H+]. The pH of a solution is expressed mathematically as the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion [H+] concentration.
When producing meat products, the pH-value should lie between 4 to 7; pH- values from 0 to 7 denotes an acidic nature (the smaller the number the more acidic the solution). The neutral point is 7; pH values from 7 to 14 signify alkalinity (the larger the number the more alkaline the solution).
When Hydrogen Chloride gas dissolves in water it form Hydrochloric acid and the molecules of Hydrogen Chloride dissociate into Hydrogen ions and Chloride ions.
Water also dissociates to produce ions, this time it is Hydrogen ions and Hydroxyl ions.
Sodium Hydroxide also dissociates to produce ions when it is dissolved in water, this time it is Sodium ions and Hydroxyl ions.
In each case we can measure or calculate the concentration of Hydrogen ions present.
As you can see, these numbers are small and difficult to read and write. By counting the decimal places each of the above can be written as:
Although a pH value has no unit, it is not an arbitrary scale; the number arises from a definition based on the activity of hydrogen ions in the solution. The definition of pH is the number equal to the negative logarithm to base 10 of the hydrogen ion concentration: This can be represented by the mathematical formula:
Log10 denotes the base 10 logarithm, and pH defines a logarithmic scale of acidity. A lower pH value (for example pH 3) indicates increasing strength of acidity, and a higher pH value (for example pH 11) indicates increasing strength of alkalinity. Some common pH values found in raw meats used for sausage making and meat production are:
pH 5.8 to 6.2 Pork muscle
pH 5.5 to 5.8 Beef muscle
pH 6.0 Veal
pH 6.5 - 6.7 Chicken
Meat with a low pH-value (pH-value below 5.8) has a poor water binding capacity. This means high cooking losses, inconsistent weight and a dry, straw-like consistency. For this reason water-bonding chemicals, like sodium polyphosphates, are generally added to the formulation. It's use is optional, however. Other additives contribute to good curing features, such as accelerators like ascorbate or erythorbate, that are used for good color development and color stability. These accelerators act as reducing agents and/or lower the pH to provide the environment required to enhance the rate of conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide, which reacts with myoglobin plus heat to yield pink-colored nitrosylhemochrome [or nitrosomyoglobin]. The reduction of microorganism growth by the addition of nitrite results in a longer shelf-life and a longer storability of the meat and meat products.
This area of sausage making is definitely the most complicated and should never be attempted by anyone who does not have a good understanding of the chemistry and microbiology involved in the process. The etiology of the word “botulism”, which is caused by a toxin produced by Clostridium botulinum, is derived from the Latin word botulus, meaning "sausage"! Inadequate understanding of the complexity and condition necessary can result in serious illness or death! In the past history of fermented sausage-making the procedures were dependent on the art of sausage maker that was passed down from father to son. Today’s production relies on our scientific understanding of the fermentation process and microbial action to produce a high quality safe product that minimizes or eliminates pathogenic and spoilage bacteria.
Sausages that are produced as a result of bacterial fermentation are classed as either dry or semi-dry sausages. The fermentation results from the ‘digestion” of carbohydrates in the meat paste resulting in an accumulation of lactic acid. As a result, the pH is generally reduced to pH 5 or lower. Fermentation is ancient process of preserving meats. In the not too distant past, chopped meat was mixed with salt and allowed to “sour”, producing an edible sausage. The technique was very unreliable since it depended on the presence of “good” bacteria in the meat mixture—which was not always the case.
A modern and more scientific approach is to create a mixture of salt, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate, and a "starter" culture of acid-producing bacteria [LAB - lactic acid bacteria], which is mixed with ground meat. Using the more modern method, pathogenic bacteria die or are inhibited by the amount of acid produced during fermentation and the lack of moisture in the finished product. Among other things, the nitrite/nitrate salts control the development of botulinum spores produced by Clostridium botulinum. With respect to the pathogenic bacteria Salmonella, Listeria, and Staphylococcus aureus, the first hours and days of fermentation are critical. The rapid development of LAB competing with the spoilage bacteria is very important because the produce an environment conducive to a rapid reduction in the pH to below 5.4. The growth and development of desirable LAB is favored by curing salt, anaerobic conditions, added sugars, and a low initial pH of the meat paste. With regards to Escherichia coli serotype O157:H7 the jury is still out. E. coli has been reported to survive in the fermentation environment of salami in commercial production in California, Washington and Australia in the '90's causing a number of people to become ill. It was estimated that fewer than 50 organisms may have been present in the dry fermented salami which caused infection in the Washington State outbreak, so it is important to be able to predict the efficacy of production practices. A 1997 CDC report indicated 61 deaths due to Escherichia coli O157:H7. The FSIS requires what is termed a 5-log reduction in the pertinent pathogenic microorganisms (i.e., reduce pathogens by 100,000-fold ) or a hold until tested before release procedure. Since the 90's, FSIS regulations, industry cooperation and testing have minimized the danger of E. coli contamination. It is extremely important that home-sausage makers be exceptional careful and clean when preparing dry-cured products; always grind your own meat from large muscle -- never use pre-ground meats from a butcher shop or supermarket because of the possibility that the meat may have been in the case long enough for bacteria to multiply to a dangerous level!
Dry sausages, like salami, are not cooked but are hung to dry after fermentation until there is a 25% or more loss [by weight] in moisture. The drying period depends upon a number of conditions: choice of meat, the formulation and method of fermentation, the diameter of the casing, temperature and humidity of the drying room, etc. A dry cured sausage with a diameter larger than 1¾-inches is commonly referred to as “salami”. The overall maturation may require anywhere between 30 and 90 days. The resulting sausages are “raw” but shelf-stable and can be kept without refrigeration for several months. Sausage fermented with bacteria and a nitrite/nitrate cure is not “cooked” as we understand the term. There is more information about this process later in the section on “Making Salami”.
Semi-dry sausages are a variety of sausage that is harder and denser than fresh sausage, but not as hard as a dry sausage. They are generally smoked, cooked or a combination of both processes. Then they are air-cooled and dried until about 10-15% of their moisture is lost. Although somewhat dried, they are not shelf-stable unless refrigerated. Since they are fully cooked or fermented, they can be used as a ready-to-eat sausage. Summer sausage, Lebanon bologna and smoked beef stick are a good example.
A general formula for a dried or semi-dried sausage is:
General Ingredients used in Fermented Sausage.
Immersion Cured Massaged/Pumped* Comminuted** Dry Cured***
WET-CURED OR PICKLED PRODUCTS: Bacon, pastrami, ham and corned beef and corned pork are often cured using the wet-cure process. If a dry cure mix is dissolved in water, it is called a brine or pickle. These meat products are prepared by curing the meat in liquid brine curing solution. The ratio of meat to pickle is very important. Generally 1 gallon of pickle per 20 pounds of meat represents a typical formula. It is important to note that the use of nitrite in brine/pickle curing is not essential to the wet-curing of meat; its presence here is primarily for color retention; the high salt concentration of the brine cures the meat. Brines should only be used once since the chemicals in the brine react with the muscle proteins during curing and become used up, altering the concentration of the brine. In addition to salt, many of the chemical changes occurring during curing are produced by bacteria which use the curing substances as a source of food producing new chemicals that flavor the product. Remember that after curing, meat and poultry are still raw and must be cooked before being eaten.
For my discussion, three types of pickle or curing solutions are considered.
When making a pickling or brining solution please follow the following recommendations:
· Keep accurate notes of the chemicals, temperature, humidity and time used during the curing process. To eliminate guesswork, label and date meat curing containers before curing and time the meat is to be removed from the cure.
· Prepare enough brine so that meat is will be fully submerged in the pickle.
· Cure meat at 36°F to 40°F (1°C - 4°C). Meat will not cure properly at colder temperatures, and warmer temperatures encourage growth of spoilage bacteria.
· Salt, cure, and seasonings are generally mixed and dissolved in warm water to ensure even distribution, then the pickle is cooled to refrigerator temperature. Do not exceed the curing levels indicated in the recipes.
For the home sausage makers the curing pickles are applied to meat cuts in either of the following ways. Often the methods are combined. The process relies on the physical principles of diffusion and osmosis; the movement of particles (molecules) from an area of high concentration to an area of lower concentration.
Any type of injection curing will speed up the distribution of the cure, and the more the more evenly the curing agents are distributed, the shorter the curing time. The curing time with the injection and artery pumping method may be as short as 24 hours. When pumping the meat, place it on a scale to determine the proper amount of pickle that has to be pumped into the meat. For example a formulation calls for a 10 pound loin to be pumped with 12% pickle. Placed on a scale, pump the meat until it weighs 11.2 pounds.
SALT PICKLE CURING (WATER AND SALT ONLY):
Percentage of salt in a brine = [ 0SAL reading x 26.4% ] / 100.
The above table applies to brine tested at 60°F. For other brine temperatures the observed salinometer readings must be converted before using them in the table. For practical purposes, add one degree salinometer for each 10 degrees above 60°F and deduct one degree salinometer for each 10 degrees below 60°F. For example, if a salinometer reading was observed to be 80°SAL in a brine which was 40°F, the corrected salinometer reading would be 78°SAL (subtract 1°SAL for each 10°F below 60°F).
Please note that the
salinometer readings are only valid for salt and water pickles.
NITRITE, NITRATE AND SWEET PICKLE CURES
The following comments can be applied to either the Nitrite/Nitrate or sweet pickle cures. Salt is necessary in these curing mixtures for proper curing. The main disadvantage of using salt is its harsh taste and the dark undesirable color of the meat. These problems are reduced by using nitrite, nitrate and/or sugar. The sugar masks the harsh flavor of the salt and the nitrite/nitrates preserve the color of the meat. Spices and flavorings are often added to sweet pickle cures to enhance the product’s organoleptic properties. The amount of flavorings and spices are variable and reflect the taste of the sausage maker; However, the addition of additives like nitrite, nitrate, ascorbates, etc. are strictly controlled by the FSIS/USDA for all commercial products. Care must always be exercised when using these ingredients, especially with recipes given by friends of copied from the internet. Frankly speaking there are web-based postings by people who have very little experience with these toxic substances and have posted “deadly” recipes! I have endeavored to include in several places on this site the mathematical formulas and USDA guidelines so that you, the hobbyist, can correctly calculate the safety margins of the restricted items used in your recipes.
List of Regulated Substances for
Cured Pork and Beef Cuts
This section includes information on chemical additives and the limitations for their use in pickle/brine curing solutions that are applied in or on meat and meat food products and poultry and poultry food products.
Parts per million (ppm) of restricted curing ingredients permitted in curing solutions
Question: How many PPM of Sodium nitrite are in the above pickling solution?
Calculations (RI=Restricted Ingredient):
PPM = (RI times percent of pump as a decimal times 1,000,000) / Total weight of pickle. PPM = (.025 nitrite X .10 X 1,000,000) / 14.66 pounds of pickle PPM = 2500 / 14.66 PPM = 170
Therefore a 12% pump exceeds the maximum percent pump allowed (11.73%) and you are out of compliance!
THE PURPOSE OF SAUSAGE INGREDIENTS
SALT: Essential to cure meat! Salt prevents the growth of some of the bacteria that are responsible for meat spoilage by either inhibiting the growth of those bacteria directly or removing enough water from the meat that they cannot survive. Salt also helps in extraction of the soluble proteins which help in binding of restructured meat products. Salt is used both in dry cure as well as brining. Only food grade salt should be used. Some people wish to have less sodium due to its relationship with hypertension and food grade Potassium chloride has been used to substitute for sodium chloride up to a 40% level. The use in a ratio of 40 : 60 reduces sodium up to 34 – 35%.
In fresh sausage, salt is used as a flavoring agent; however, in cured or dry-cured it is used as a curing agent as well as a flavoring agent. The proper amount is critical to a proper cure. Different salts have different weights per unit volume. Table salt is the heaviest; Kosher is the lightest! Make sure you using the proper amount. In fresh sausages, general rule of thumb you can use is 1 to 1-1/2 teaspoons of canning or table salt to 1 pound of meat. That will yield approximately 1% to 1.5% of salt in the product. In making salami and other dry-cured product, the USDA guideline call for 2.5% salt.
When selecting salt, make sure it has no additives in it. I generally use a canning-type salt, which is pure Sodium chloride. Sea salt, which may be tasty on your grilled steak, has a number of "impurities" which can interact with other chemicals in your sausage formula. Not that it's bad, it would just give a different taste in some cases. Kosher or flake salt will give you less salt by volume than you need if you just use a measuring spoon. To be accurate, no matter which salt you end up using, you'll always get the proper amount of salt if you weigh it out on a scale rather than use volume measurements.
NITRITE AND NITRATE CURING SALTS: Curing means to make the meat product inhospitable to spoilage microorganisms and to flavor, color, and tenderize the meat. Meat can be cured either by the addition of salt alone or salt in combination with one or more ingredients such as sodium nitrite, sugar, and spices. The preparation and use of curing mixtures must be carefully planned and executed. Curing is generally done under refrigeration (36°F / 2°C) and is essential when the formulation requires meat to be processed at low temperatures (under 140°F / 60°C)….while smoking, for example. Cures come pre-mixed and ready to use; they are usually added to the meat as an ingredient along with the other seasonings.
"Curing salt" is available in several formulations: Cure #1 (also called Prague Powder #1) which contains pure salt and sodium nitrite; Cure #2 (also called Prague Powder #2) which contains pure salt, sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate; and proprietary formulations like Morton's Tender Quick. Careful attention must be paid to the sausage formulation to be sure that the correct cure is used!
Prague Powder #1: sometimes called "pink salt", Insta-Cure, Cure #1 or Modern Cure. This cure contains 6.25% sodium nitrite mixed with salt. Use 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lb. of meat. (2.5 grams of cure per kilogram of meat) Mix cure with cold water. This cure is not interchangeable with Cure#2.
Prague Powder #2: sometimes called Cure #2 or Insta-Cure #2 has 6.25% of sodium nitrite with 4% of sodium nitrate mixed with salt and must be used with any products that do not require cooking, smoking, or refrigeration. The sodium nitrate in this cure slowly breaks down into sodium nitrite, then into nitric oxide over a long period of time. Use 1 level teaspoon of cure for 5 lbs. of meat. (2.5 grams of cure per kilogram of meat) Mix cure with cold water. This cure is not interchangeable with Cure #1.
Morton® Tender Quick® mix contains salt, the main preserving agent; sugar, both sodium nitrate (0.5%) and sodium nitrite (0.5%). Since Morton cures are proprietary mixtures of salt, sugar, nitrite and nitrate, and propylene glycol there is no way of easily converting how much could be substituted in a formulation that uses cure #2. Click on Tender Quick to get more information.
- How They Work:
Nitrite added to meat delays development of the toxin that causes botulism and imparts the characteristic cured meat flavor and color we often associate with ham, bacon, salami, etc. Some cured meats such as bacon, country ham, salami, pepperoni, and Westfalian ham, for example, use sodium nitrate because of the long aging period involved in curing the meat. During this time, helpful bacteria (certain strains of micrococcus, etc.) can ferment the nitrate and it is slowly converted to nitrite which in turn is converted to nitric oxide. It is the nitric oxide than combines with myoglobin protein in the meat that imparts a pleasing red color in the cured product. To insure proper fermentation, curing salts containing nitrite (or nitrite and nitrate) as well as starter cultures of known bacteria are used in the production of dry-cured meats.
Note: There is much concern over the consumption of nitrate and nitrite by the general public. However, a review of all scientific literature on nitrite by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences indicates that nitrite does not directly act as a carcinogen in animals and that nitrate, which is converted to nitrite in the human body, is neither carcinogenic nor mutagenic.
Reducing the pH level of sausage is part of a process of fermentation, which is necessary to get a certain texture and is used to protect the product from harmful microbiological activity. The production of cured, smoked, and/or dry-cured sausages requires a quick drop in acidity during manufacture. This drop is needed because it inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria and provides a suitable environment for the helpful bacteria that will cause fermentation in the meat mixture. The desired range of pH's is generally lower than 5. The lower pH level can be accomplished by:
A special point of concern for the direct chemical acidification methods is of course the control of the pH: by adding these acids, one can easily create pH gradients within the product which makes it difficult to control the formation of the desired texture. Hence, a controlled acidification, for example by using microbiological cultures, is a more suitable way to acidify food products and to obtain the desired textures. In my opinion, the non-commercial sausage maker it is safer to use starter cultures.
Microorganisms such as bacteria have played an important role in the preservation of food products for thousands of years. Preservation involves some form of lactic acid fermentation in such foods as salami and summer sausages; pickles and sauerkraut; cheese, sour cream, and yogurt. Of course for centuries it the biochemistry of these foods were unknown and considered an art. It has now been shown that a large group of microorganisms (lactic bacteria), normally present in the foods, were responsible.
The group of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) is very diverse and includes such genera as Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and Streptococcus which produce lactic acid and aromatic compounds giving dried sausage their characteristic flavor and tang. Other bacterial species, belonging to the genera Micrococcus and Staphylococcus for example, are used convert nitrate to nitrite in sausage fermentation. Starter cultures are available as frozen or freeze-dried cultures that may contain a single species of bacteria or several species depending on the type of sausage being produced.
The fermentation step in dry cured sausage production involves the action of LAB on the sugars added to ground meat. [See the page on "Making Salami".] These organisms ferment the sugars to lactic acid and the acid causes the meat to develop the characteristic texture and flavor that is associated with the sausage. In 1960, Merck & Co. and American Meat Institute were awarded the Food Technology Industrial Achievement Award for demonstrating the efficacy using of Pediococcus cerevisiae as a starter culture for controlled fermentation of sausage.
Today starter cultures are added routinely to commercial dry-cured sausage formulations to initiate and control the formation of lactic acid and drop the pH (acidity measure) of the sausage. In addition to giving the sausages a unique lactic acid flavor, the rapid decline of pH inhibits the growth of spoilage bacteria and pathogens. With the current interest in sausage making, a few types of starter cultures are available in small quantities for the home sausage maker. [See the "Resources" page.]
Different LAB strains produce various amounts of lactic acid by their nature. Commonly used commercial starter cultures are either pure strains or various mixtures of Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactobacillus curvatus, Pediococcus cerevisiae, Pediococcus acidilacti, Staphylococcus camosus. The search for a starter cultures for use by the “home” sausage maker can be frustrating. There are many health-food type companies offering LAB as health and digestive aids---these CAN NOT be safely used as starter cultures for meat products. The search for sources and choices in starter culture outside the US, especially Europe and Canada is much easier. I have a couple of sources linked on my resource page. Companies package starter cultures in quantities sufficient for 100 kg. (500 lb.) of sausage; fortunately, the cultures are generally freeze dried and can be kept frozen for a year or two. One package (generally less that $15 USD) will last a long time! I get a lot of email from people asking: "What culture should I use to make a certain product?" In order to give you a guide, I have excerpted a section from the Hansen company Meat Manual below. Hansen is just one of several companies world-wide that produce starters for the food industry. This material is presented just for informational purposes.
Guideline material is excerpted from: Bactoferm™ Meat Manual vol. I "Production of fermented sausages with Chr. Hansen starter cultures", Edition 2003
Guidelines for choosing Chr. Hansen starter cultures
5.1. Starter cultures at Chr. Hansen
In the tables below the standard range of starter cultures offered by Chr. Hansen for fermented dried sausages are compiled and categorized into their primary target groups, taking into account the specific culture needs within each group. Please refer to the sausage style definitions made in paragraph 2.1. and to chapter 3 and 4 for details on the involved microorganisms. One should be aware that even if many of the cultures contain the same species, the strains are different and possess different characteristics.
Most of the cultures within the product range contain blends of lactic acid bacteria, staphylococci or Micrococcaceae spp., in this way simplifying the procedure of applying more than one bacterium. Yeast strains are not included in the standard range, but are available on request.
5.1.1. Starter cultures for traditional fermented sausages
In the production of traditional Southern European style sausages and traditional North European technologies, the fermentation profile must have a short lag phase in order to ensure the growth of the added starter culture at the expense of the background flora. Additionally, the acidification profile must be rather flat not going below pH 4.8-5.0 at any time. This will ensure that the applied staphylococci maintain their activity over a longer period of time; foremost their nitrate reductase and flavor-forming activities. The cultures specified below are specifically selected for traditional fermentation profiles applying fermentation temperatures not higher than 24ºC (75ºF).
In general, T-SL and T-SC-150 result in a faster acidification rate than the other traditional cultures, but this is much dependent on the processing procedure. The lactic acid bacteria in T-D-66 have a very high salt tolerance and they are recommended for sausages with high fat content.
5.1.2. Starter cultures for fast fermented sausages
In the production of North European and US style sausages the fermentation profile must have a very short lag phase in order to rapidly on-set fermentation and exhibit a fast drop in pH to below 5.3 within 30 hours as a minimum. This ensures an efficient inhibition of background flora and an early on-set of fast drying. Total production time is typically less than 2 weeks.
Staphylococci and Micrococcaceae spp. are not added to all cultures, so in order to enhance color formation staphylococci or Micrococcaceae spp. must be added on the side (see paragraph 5.1.3.). This may be unnecessary in the US style process (fermentation temperatures 35-45ºC/100-115ºF, very fast pH-drop, very low final pH < 4.8) since staphylococci generally do not survive the fast pH-lowering. In some instances, however, the addition of staphylococci or Micrococcaceae spp. has proven beneficial for color stability in the US style process for meat snack sticks.
The Pediococcus in F-1 and LP has lower salt tolerance than the other fast fermenting strains and F-1 and LP are therefore not recommended for sausages with very high salt-in-water levels (>6%) and high fat contents.
5.1.3. Starter cultures for enhancing flavor and nitrate reduction
Sausages fermented with a chemical acidifier such as GDL or encapsulated acid (see paragraph 2.2.1.) instead of lactic acid bacteria generally require added staphylococci or Micrococcaceae spp. to obtain acceptable flavor and color, see table below. In general, those single strain cultures are recommended in all sausage products in need of extra flavor or nitrate reductase activity. S. carnosus is more salt tolerant than S. xylosus and convey a more intense flavor in fast fermented products.
5.1.4. Starter cultures for surface coverage
South European style sausages covered with mold on the surface will profit from being inoculated with a standardized culture, thus preventing mycotoxin formation by contaminating molds. Additionally, the on-set of mold growth will be faster and a more uniform coverage will be obtained.
The penicillia tabulated below were selected to have toxin free growth features and different appearances under the same conditions. M-EK-4 grows better at lower temperature and humidity and gives a marbled appearance. M-EK-6 is denser and develops a more fluffy coverage. M-EK-72 gives a strong growth and high and fluffy coverage when high humidity and temperature is available.
5.1.5. Starter cultures for bio-protection
If the contaminating level of Listeria monocytogenes in the fresh sausage mince is rather high, the use of a bio-protective culture may be necessary in order to remove Listeria from the final product. F-LC is a patented culture blend capable of acidification as well as preventing growth of Listeria. The culture works in a wide temperature range. Low fermentation temperature (< 25ºC / 80ºF) results in a traditional acidification profile whereas high fermentation temperature (35-45ºC /95-115ºF) gives a US style product.
Bactoferm™ Meat Manual vol. I "Production of fermented sausages with Chr. Hansen starter cultures", Edition 2003-(additions made in 2013)
Citric acid is a naturally occurring acid that can be added to ground meat which has a number of effects depending upon its concentration. For example, at concentrations of 0.075% it acts as an antioxidant (oxygen absorber) and is used to preserve the color of fresh sausages. At a concentration of 0.75% (ten times more) it will lower the pH of a meat paste. This can cause a problem for the sausage maker, however. If the pH is lowered to quickly, the proteins will not bind and firm up the sausage. When this occurs, the texture of the sausage will be coarse and crumbly. To prevent the premature lowering of pH, the citric acid used in sausage making is encapsulated--that is, coated with a hydrogenated vegetable oil which will melt off and release the citric acid at about 135oF allowing the proteins to react with each other before the acid is released.
When the sausage maker wants that fermented "tang" in a cooked or smoked product, but wants to avoid processing under special conditions of temperature and humidity required for bacterial fermentation, the appropriate amount to add to a product is 7.5 grams of encapsulated citric acid for every Kilogram meat. When the sausage maker wants to preserve the color of the fresh sausage, the appropriate amount to add to a product is 0.75 grams of encapsulated citric acid for every Kilogram meat. (Note the decimal point!)
The general way that it is used is to add the acid at the end of the mixing process. At this time the product can be held for a short period of time at room temperature or sent directly to the smoker-cooker. There are several cautions to remember: (1) Add it at the end of the processing cycle to prevent rupture the capsules during the mixing, (2) Do not regrind the meat paste after adding the acid, and (3) Do not refrigerate the product before cooking or smoking.
Glucono-delta-Lactone (GDL) is a carbohydrate that reacts with water and slowly breaks down into gluconic acid when it comes in contact with the water in sausage mixture. By using GDL, the pH is lowered gradually in the sausage emulsion or mass without going through the fermentation process. This will aid in retarding the development of pathogens and spoilage causing micro-organisms that may be present in the meat mixture. This slow acidification process has a minimal effect on flavor as it lowers the overall pH of the sausage mixture without imparting sourness, since is a "sweet" carbohydrate. It decomposes at about 153°C and is stable at ambient temperatures and humidity. The reversibility between gluconic acid and GDL exhibits the properties of the acid with a gradual but continuous decrease in pH. During the conversion of GDL into gluconic acid in the meat paste, its taste characteristics change from sweet to slightly acidic. It is GDL’s slow rate of acidification and mild taste characteristics that set it apart from other acidulants. GDL reaches its lowest pH after approximately 40-60 minutes or more, depending on the concentration of GDL and the temperature of the meat. GDL is often used to replace traditional fermentation processes of some sausages, especially in commercial manufacture, because fewer production steps and controls are necessary. The maximum amount of GDL should be kept to 8 ounces per 100 pounds of ground meat (for the small producer, use at the rate of 5 grams per kilogram). Its use by the home sausage maker should be guided by the person's depth of understanding of food chemistry and bacterial spoilage. The FDA position regarding the safety of GDL is that it is generally regarded as a safe additive; see the following governmental document: 21 CFR Ch. I §184.1318. Since GDL is a carbohydrate, it may be used as a carbon source for naturally-occurring bacteria in the meat which could then have a detrimental effect on taste. This can sometimes be corrected by adding flavor-enhancing bacterial cultures.
Seasonings are used in sausage production to contribute to the flavor of the blended meats. Spicing should be done carefully in order to control the seasoning but not overpower the meat flavor of the sausage. In addition to seasoning, some spices seem to have bacteriostatic and antioxidant properties. Garlic and nutmeg, for example, have been shown to have such properties. The chemical and nutritional components of spices can be accessed on the USDA Nutritional Database.
Spices come from the bark (cinnamon), root (ginger, onion, garlic), flower buds (cloves, saffron), seeds (yellow mustard, coriander, anise), or the fruit (juniper berry, black pepper, allspice, paprika, chili pepper) of tropical plants and trees.
Herbs are leaves of low-growing shrubs. Examples are parsley, chives, marjoram, thyme, basil, dill, oregano, rosemary, savory, sage and tarragon. These can be used fresh or dried. [Note: Generally substitute half the amount of dried herbs for fresh herbs.]
Seasonings, dehydrated vegetable include onion, garlic, sweet peppers, hot peppers, mints, and freeze-dried chives and shallots.
Condiments are usually a combination of herbs and spices blended in a liquid form. Examples are prepared mustard, catsup, Worcestershire sauce, hot or pepper sauces, and many of the specialty vinegars.
Seasoning blends are mixtures of spices and herbs. Check spice companies, like Penzey's or Sutton’s Bay for exact mixtures.
The art of using herbs and spices is learning how much to add and how to combine flavors. In developing your sausage recipes use strong, pungent spices such as red pepper in small amounts. More delicate seasoning can be used in greater amounts without ruining the final product. Although the herbs or spices should enhance and not overpower the flavor of the meats used, cultural preferences will influence your decision. Be Creative! Learn to cook with tastes rather than with recipes. Be both a scientist and an artist as you learn to use seasonings. Start with several herbs and spices, learning to know the flavoring and how it complements different meats. Each seasoning has a variety of properties not just a taste property but warm or cooling property to it. Strive to make the best use cooling spices as well as warming spices, bland spices as well as pungent spices, sweet spices as well as hot spices. Flavor is a combination of two sensory perceptions: taste and odor or aroma. The first part is perceived by the taste buds and other sensory tissues on the tongue. It is this area which perceives non-volatile stimuli such as: salt, sweet, acid (sour) and bitter. Secondly one's sense of smell, or odor, is one's reaction to the stimulus of volatile components found in the spice or herb.
Start with a tested recipe. After it has been prepared, decide if more or less seasoning is needed for the next time. Spice companies recommend about 1/4 teaspoon (a pinch) of spice per pound of meat creating recipes. Only use 1/8 teaspoon of stronger seasonings such as red pepper and garlic. Remember, it is easier to add more than to try to compensate for too much. More than one herb or spice can be used in a recipe. When creating a recipe, start by using only one or two choices. As you gain experience with herbs and spices, taste will tell if others might be added.
SUGARS: The addition of sugar is common to many sausages. Its use depends upon the type of sausage being made. Most sugars except sorbitol enhance the browning of sausage during cooking. It is often added to help mask the taste of salt used in the curing process and it can also be used as a source of food the lactic acid producing bacteria needed for proper fermentation of dry and semi-dry sausages. Glucose is essential in fermented sausages as a substrate for growth of fermenting bacteria. Depending on the type of sausage as little as 0.5% sugar is added; some processed meats can contain as much a 2% sugar. Sugar is available in several forms. Some examples of sugars or sugar derivatives are glucose (or dextrose), maple syrup, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, sucrose, honey, and sorbitol.
PHOSPHATES - Phosphates are used to increase water holding capacity of meat products and have an antioxidant effect. They also help reduce rancidity as well as improve the color stability and flavor. The USDA has approved Sodium tripolyphosphate, Sodium hexametaphosphate, Sodium acid pyrophosphate, Sodium pyrophosphate , Monosodium phosphate and Disodium phosphate for use in curing. The use of these chemicals, however, is restricted to an amount which will result in not more than 0.5 percent phosphate from any source in the finished product. (meat contains 0.1% phosphate)
ASCORBATE AND ERYTHORBATE: These chemicals are classed as anti-oxidants, i.e. they combine with free oxygen that would hasten spoilage. Sodium erythorbate or ascorbate can also create conditions in meat which speed up the rate of conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide which is important for stabilizing the meat color as well as inhibiting the formation of nitrosamines in cured products.
MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE: MSG is used as a flavor enhancer in sausage formulations. It is a salt of glutamic acid, an amino acid which, together with other amino acids, forms proteins in living tissues. Therefore glutamate is naturally contained in almost all food products such as meat, fish, vegetables, milk, etc. Only a small percentage of the daily eaten glutamate comes from added glutamate. The biggest part comes from proteins. Food products which naturally contain lots of free glutamate (e.g. tomatoes, cheese, mushrooms, etc.) are used in many food recipes because of their flavor enhancing properties. The human tongue can sense sweet, salty, sour and bitter flavors; Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) imparts a fifth flavor which is called UMAMI. (Translated, it means "delicacy"). This flavor plays an important role in many sausage products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has examined all existing reports on supposedly allergic reactions caused by MSG and they find that there is no connection between glutamate content in food products and the appearance of symptoms such as numbness of neck and back.
MEAT BINDERS: A variety of substances are used as binders in sausage making. Some of the binders in use are starch, soy protein concentrate, and non fat dried skim milk powder. They are added for a number of reasons, depending on the type of sausage being made. They are used to improve flavor, stability, moisture retention or slicing characteristics. Commercially, the calcium-reduced form of skim milk powder is often used as calcium is said to interfere with protein solubility. Soy protein concentrate available as coarse granules, powder or grits and is used in emulsion type sausages. The content of meat binder in a sausage product is regulated by the Federal Meat Inspection Service and the amounts vary with the type of sausage or loaf being produced For example, any sausage product containing more than 2% soy protein must be labeled as “imitation” sausage.
TRANSGLUTAMINASE ("Meat Glue") An enzymatic meat binder. This is a naturally occuring enzyme that causes the proteins (well, certain protein amino acids) in muscles to cross-link---in layman's terms, stick together by a chemical reaction. Basically it restructures the meat muscle into a single unit! For example, you can get two pork tenderloins (that taper) , sprinkle some enzyme, and line them up to form an uniform roll! It's not a quick reaction, but takes at least 6 hours (or better up to 24 hours) to completely bond and it should be done under refrigeration. As with many things scientific, the general public is suspicious of it's effects on our health. I suggest you do some research on your own from reliable sources and not just anyone who claims they are knowledgeable aboul pure foods.
Natural Casings: Natural hog, sheep or beef casings are edible and allow for good moisture retention when making sausage. They are best stored under refrigeration; do not freeze. Soften them before use by soaking in fresh warm water for one hour; then flush casings by allowing water to run through them.
· Sheep Casings: They are smaller and more tender when cooked than hog casings.
· Hog Casings: They can be used for fresh, cured, smoked, and dried sausage. Most commonly used are the 32 mm size and 35 mm size casings.
· Beef casings: the largest size casing; the three commonly used are:
· Beef Rounds: Slightly curved casing used in making knackwurst & ring bologna. Usually tied on one end and about 15 inches long.
· Beef Middles: The “middle” part of the beef intestine about 2 ½ inches when stuffed; good for salami, summer sausage, etc. A hank is about 50 feet long!
· Beef Bungs: About 4 to 4 ½ inches in diameter. Can be used for stuffing coppa and large bologna; this casing hold about 10 pounds of meat.
Fibrous Casings: These casings are non-edible and consist of continuous tube paper which is then impregnated with cellulose. They need to be soaked about 30 minutes in warm water before being used. They do not need to be refrigerated. These casing come in a variety of sizes from small salami to large bologna.
Collagen Casings: These casings are either edible or non-edible (depending on the thickness). They are made of collagen (skin protein) that has been processed and reformed into continuous tube. Those made for fresh sausage are edible, very tender and stuffed dry (without soaking); the thicker, flat collagen casings (3 ½ - 4 inches in diameter) and are soaked for about 30 minutes in warm water before use. They are used for making large sausage, salami, bologna etc. and are not edible.
Plastic Casings: These casings are non-edible and are used in making sausages that are generally cooked in water. The plastic is non-permeable to the water and the cooked juices remain in the sausage. Headcheese is an example of a sausage using this casing
Page last edited on July1, 2013- Copyright © 2001-2013 Len Poli - Sonoma Mountain Sausage - All rights reserved