Fermented Products from Meats

Since ancient times many types of fermented meat product have been developed. However, scientific understanding of fermented sausage resulted only after the advancement of meat microbiology in the last 100 years. Currently most meat is consumed unfermented. However, many varieties of meat products are preserved in the form of sausages (such as frankfurters, bologna, Vienna sausage, loaves and luncheon meats, bratwurst, brockwurst, and braunschweiger). Only 6% of U.S. sausages are fermented. They are either fermented sausages (pepperoni and salami) or semidry fermented sausages (cervelat and Thüringer). The basic ingredients for fermented sausage are ground meat (one type or a mixture of a few types), salt (2.5-3.5%), sugar (1%, for fermentation), spices, nitrites, ascorbate and erythorbate, and lactic acid bacteria. The traditional process of applying cultures is to let chance contaminants start the fermentation. This process is highly unreliable because ground meat contains many types of microorganism other than lactic acid bacteria. The second process is by back-slopping, when the batter from a previous successful batch is added to a fresh sausage batch to initiate the fermentation. This method is more reliable than the traditional method but is still subject to unwanted variations. The third and most reliable process is by the addition of starter cultures. Lactic acid bacteria such as Pediococcus and Lactobacillus have been successfully used to make fermented sausages. These bacteria in the presence of sugar and the anaerobic environment provided by the casing of the sausage quickly produce lactic acid and also develop the tangy flavor typical of the taste of fermented sausage. Fermented sausages can also be smoked to add distinctive flavors.

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