Process

Grinding and Comminuting

The meat for fresh and fermented sausages is ground through a grinder and then mixed with salt and any other ingredients. Some loaf and luncheon meat products use chunks of meat bound together by the extracted meat proteins that coat the surface after mixing with salt and water.

Frankfurters and bolognas are comminuted or finely chopped with the salt and ice to extract/solubilize the proteins. Then the fat and remaining ingredients are added and chopped further to form a smooth batter.

Casings

The sausage mixture or batter is stuffed into casings of various types, sizes and shapes for further processing, storage, and consumer convenience. Originally natural or animal casings made from stomachs, intestines and bladders of cattle, hogs and sheep were used, and are still associated with many traditional, high quality sausages. They are in limited supply and highly perishable. They are less uniform in size, more fragile and require more care during stuffing than manufactured casings. The latter are either cellulose from cotton linters (cotton by-products) or collagen from the corium layer of beef hides. Cellulose casings are available in many sizes, strengths, and properties. Small types are used to cook frankfurters in a smokehouse and then removed before packaging. Large fibrous cellulose casings, which remain on luncheon meats and fermented and dried sausages, are removed by the consumer. Small collagen casings can be consumed and are used for breakfast and other uncooked sausages.

Stuffing and Linking

The sausage mixtures and frankfurter batters can be pumped through stuffers by either impeller or piston pumps. The casings are placed over a stuffing horn and the sausage extruded into the casing. Links are formed by twisting the casing or by using string ties or metal clasps.

Fermenting and Drying

Originally the bacteria for fermented meats were natural contaminants of the meats, equipment and facilities. Small amounts of successfully fermented products were often added back to new batches to start the fermentation. Most manufacturers now add cultures of selected bacteria and a fermentable sugar and then hold the mixture at 70-82°F and 80% relative humidity for 2-3 days to ensure a desirable fermentation. The bacteria produce lactic acid which gives the sausages their tangy flavor and reduces the pH to 4.6-5.4, aiding preservation. The cured color also forms at this time. The sausages then go into the drying room where they are held at 45-55°F and 69-72% relative humidity. Semi-dry sausages are dried for 10 to 21 days and contain 50% moisture. Dry sausages are dried for 60 to 120 days and contain only 35% moisture.

Smoking and Cooking

Smoke is no longer as important as a preservative, but it contributes to flavor, color, and microbial preservation. Controlled burning of hardwood chips produces a mixture of organic acids, carbonyls, and phenols. The acids cause surface coagulation of the proteins forming a skin on the product. Carbonyls contribute a brownish color and phenols plus some carbonyls add the smoke flavors. Many continuous and large volume processes use an aerosol of liquid smoke which is more consistent and easier to use. It may also be added directly as a flavoring or applied to the surface. In addition, liquid smoke does not contain any of the carcinogenic polycyclic compounds that may be formed if the burning temperatures are too high.

Frankfurters are smoked during the beginning of a cooking sequence. The temperature is raised in steps with humidity control and good circulation until the internal temperature reaches 155-160°F. The frankfurters are then showered with cold water to cool.

Packaging

Most sausages are sold in the casings they were stuffed into. Frankfurters, however, are stripped of the cellulose casing after cooking in the smokehouse. Many sausages are vacuum packaged to extend shelf life by preventing water loss, retarding oxidation, and slowing microbial growth.

Developments

Sausages continue to have great popularity because of their appealing flavor and convenience. The increasing variety available in the retail stores reflect consumer interest in convenience and specialty foods. Salt levels have been reduced although many sausages still contain high amounts of sodium. Research is underway to reduce or replace the animal fat while retaining the expected flavor and textural feel of the products. Meat inspection and quality assurance programs are under revision as the inspection agencies include more microbial and residue testing with the traditional visual inspection. Hazard analysis-critical control point (HACCP) procedures are particularly important in controlling pathogenic microorganisms such as Salmonella, Staphylococci and Listeria.

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

The Mediterranean Diet Meltdown

Looking To Lose Weight But Not Starve Yourself? Revealed! The Secret To Long Life And Good Health Is In The Foods We Eat. Download today To Discover The Reason Why The Mediterranean Diet Will Help You Have Great Health, Enjoy Life And Live Longer.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment