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Sausage Basics - MEAT

Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Friday, April 13, 2001 at 3:10 p.m.

COOKED SAUSAGES are the largest category of sausages marketed in the U.S. and include such common table fare as frankfurters, bologna, smoked pork sausage, Polish sausage, knockwurst and many more. These sausages may be fine in texture or moderately coarse, depending on product identity standards.
Fine-textured, emulsified products, such as the common hot dog, wiener or frankfurter, require slightly different manufacturing principles than “coarse-cut” sausages. The variations in processing principles necessary to achieve optimal product quality for both emulsified and coarse-cut sausages within the cooked sausage classification will be discussed in this paper.

Quality sausage must start with quality raw materials.
Ideally, meat trimmings used in sausage production should be as fresh as possible and never temperature abused. Temperature abuse occurs when raw meat materials have been exposed to temperatures above 50°F for extended periods of time (more than six hours). Such abuse results in bacterial growth that ultimately can reduce the finished product’s keeping ability and flavor freshness. Trimmings that have been held under proper refrigerated conditions (less than 40°F), are also subject to quality deterioration with time. It is far better to freeze fresh trimmings for later use in sausage products than to hold them in a cooler for seven to 10 days.
Research has shown that meat trimmings which have been frozen rapidly, and were in good condition prior to freezing, are comparable in quality to their fresh counterparts. If frozen trimmings are used, they should not be salted prior to freezing, nor should they be held in a freezer for more than three months if possible. Acceptable products can be made entirely from frozen raw materials, but a superior product will result if frozen trimmings are limited to no more than half of the formulation.
Cooked and smoked sausages depend on solubilized proteins from the lean meat to bind and entrap fat and water so that a desirable texture and yield results. For this reason, it is critical that meat trimmings be divided into two fractions, lean and fat.
The lean fraction should contain no more than 20 percent fat (less is more desirable). Examples include boneless cow, chuck or bull trimmings. In an all-pork sausage, use boneless shoulder meat, special pork trimmings, or lean sow trimmings. The lean fraction should not include significant quantities of meats that are high in connective tissue (shank trimmings, cheek meat, etc.)
The fat fraction may consist of regular pork trimmings (50 percent fat), jowls, belly trimmings, ham trimmings, beef plates and other trimmings that fall in a fat range of 40 to 60 percent.
In emulsified products, the lean meat should be added to the bowl chopper first or ground finer and added to the blender before the fat fraction. The lean meat, with its higher concentration of desirable contractile proteins, is directly responsible for the water and fat binding properties of the final product. Therefore it is essential to get a significant quantity of these proteins solubilized prior to adding the fatter trimmings.
Certain meats contribute little to the functional properties of the finished products. These meats are often referred to as “filler meats” and include raw materials that are high in collagen (connective tissue protein). Tripe, pork stomachs and partially defatted pork and beef tissue are examples. These meats should be added to the formulation at the same time as the fat fraction since they are incapable of binding significant quantities of fat into a stable matrix.

From an Article by W.J. Costello in “Meat Industry” magazine.

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