Injection Machines

Injection machines are used to introduce the brine solution (water, salt, and flavorings) into large whole muscle chunks. In the past, the salt and spices were introduced by rubbing the dry ingredients onto the muscle surface or by immersing the muscle in a brine solution. These processes are time-consuming, especially when dealing with large muscles (eg, whole turkey breast). Today, mechanical injectors are commonly used in the industry. The injectors can consist of a single needle operated manually or have a few dozen needles automatically controlled to deliver a precise volume of brine. The needles must be narrow enough not to cause any damage to the appearance of the muscles. Special care should also be given to the uniformity of the injection process to prevent high salt and/or nitrite concentrations in localized areas. High concentrations of salt and nitrite can cause flavor and color defects (eg, nitrite burns) in the final product. It is common to tumble the meat after injecting the brine. This is done to ensure an even distribution of the brine, enhance brine absorption, and facilitate the extraction of salt soluble proteins (11).

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