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A few "Tangy" flavor tips

Posted By: Joe Ames
Date: Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 9:35 a.m.

In Response To: bigwheel &jackitup (bonehead)

Fermented Meats Troubleshooting Guide
Assessing and resolving fermented meat production problems

By Dr. Larry Hand

Manufacturing fermented meats involves a lot of science, a little art and a certain amount of mystique. Fermentation is a complicated biochemical process, and any deviations can result in a low quality, inconsistent product.

During the fermentation process desirable bacteria proliferate to the detriment of undesirable bacteria. This microbial “inversion” favors lactic acid-producing bacteria and changes a product’s color, texture and flavor to the desired characteristics found in fermented meats.

Starter cultures can help manufacturers be more precise in the fermentation process. Correct use of a starter culture can result in faster fermentation times; quicker product turnover; improved color; more efficient drying; and more consistent, quality products.

The development of starter cultures has come a long way in the past few years. Cultures are now available that give very rapid fermentation and that are tailored to specific temperatures. In dry and semi-dry sausages, lactic acid production is slow enough to allow coagulation of proteins. It does, in fact, assist in this coagulation. This is a far different phenomenon than would occur if the same amount of acid were dumped into a sausage product during mixing.

With the decrease in technical staffs of many manufacturers, resources are stretched and outside assistance is often needed. Because of this, it’s often difficult to sift through the problems and information gathered to determine solutions to manufacturing problems. Assistance, such as this troubleshooting guide, is beneficial in analyzing problems and examining potential causes prior to processes getting out of control.

The author is director of technical services for Diversitech, Inc., Stoughton, Wis.

Five safety options for dry and semi-dry sausage processing

The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association Blue Ribbon Task Force has developed five options for ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of dry and semi-dry sausage.

Option 1: Achieve a 5-log kill using a heat process (145°F for four minutes).

Option 2: Companies develop and validate individual 5-log inactivation treatment plans.

Option 3: Conduct a hold-and-test program for finished product. Depending on type of product, 15 to 30 individual chubs must be sub-sampled per lot.

Option 4: Propose combinations that demonstrate a collective 5-log kill.

Option 5: Initiate a hazard analysis critical control point system that includes raw batter testing and a 2-log inactivation in fermentation and drying.

Fermented Meats Troubleshooting Guide
Problem Cause:
• Slow fermentation Frozen culture allowed to thaw and subsequently held too long before dispensing into meat.
• Microorganisms exhaust nutrients, reduce pH and lower culture “activity”
• Environmental temperatures/humidities during fermentation inconsistent with recommended culture optimum
• Secondary growth in meat of contaminant microorganism producing end-product buffers and pH drop
• Laydown procedure at cold temperatures results in extended lag phase at beginning of fermentation cycle
• Cheese in product may contain phosphate that buffers pH drop; also has tendency to absorb moisture from surrounding meat
• Sausage entering smokehouse colder than normal, i.e using frozen meat
• Spice formulation adjustment either decreases acid stimulation or inhibits culture
• Excessive salt or cure addition
• Culture comes into direct contact with curing components
• High fat formulation reduces moisture content
• Large diameter product causes slower heat transfer
• Rapid moisture loss in product
• Higher protein level in lean meat formulation buffers pH reading
• Fast fermentation Temperature/humidity higher than normal
• Spice formulation adjustment favoring culture
• Excessive water addition
• Product delayed prior to entering smokehouse, results in higher initial temperature and more time
• Leaner product, i.e. more moisture
• Pork-containing product
• Smaller diameter product processed at high humidity
• Initial meat pH lower than normal
• Inconsistent fermentation Inadequate culture distribution, results in “hot” and “cold” spots in meat mixture
• Inadequate distribution of salt, cure, spices and dextrose
• “Lay down” procedure causes some batter to dry out
• Diverse initial product temperatures
• “Laid down” product and directly processed product in same smokehouse; culture acclimation in “laid down” product results in faster fermentation
• Products may have different spice formulations, meat components and casing diameters
• Uneven temperature/humidity in fermentation chamber
• Uneven humidity in drying room cause different drying rates
• Too low pH Failure to monitor fermentation
• Excessive carbohydrate source
Insufficient heat/dry processing retard fermentation
• No fermentation Culture not added
• Culture inactivated by direct contact with salt, cure components or heavily chlorinated diluent water
• Non-compliance with recommended culture handling temperatures after thawing
• Insufficient carbohydrate added to sausage mixture
• Excessive salt content
• Antibacterial agents added to meat mixture i.e. preservatives, chemical boiler treatments via steam or antibiotics in meat
• Souring of product, Insufficient heat treatment to destroy microorganisms; excess residual carbohydrates permit secondary fermentation post-processing
• Excessive moisture and residual carbohydrates in non-cooked product
• Insufficient drying
• Temperature abuse post-packaging
• Off-flavor Microbial contaminant either growing during fermentation or post-packaging
• Use of spoiled raw materials
• Poor sanitation post-processing
• Chemical contaminant
• Cross-contamination
• Slimy, gassy product Yeast or heterolactic contamination in package post-processing
• Excessive moisture content
• Inadequate smoke concentration at product surface, i.e. semi-dry products
• Green or gray coloration Insufficient cure level or heat
• Oxidation of meat pigments via microbial contaminant, metal contaminants
• Exposure to sunlight
• High pH
• “Greasing out” Excessive heating rate
• Excessive fermentation temperature
• Unstable meat mix and low-binding meats
• Overworking raw meat mix
• Pepperoni “cupping” Overmixing
• Temperature too high during mixing and/or stuffing
• Higher percentage beef in formula
• Product is too lean
• Excessive heating and/or drying
• Raw meat mix is overworked
• Excessive protein extraction

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Messages In This Thread

bigwheel &jackitup
bonehead -- Wednesday, December 31, 2003 at 7:13 p.m.
A few "Tangy" flavor tips
Joe Ames -- Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 9:35 a.m.
A few more "Tangy" flavor tips
Joe Ames -- Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 9:42 a.m.
Re: bigwheel &jackitup
bigwheel -- Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 10:03 a.m.
Re: thanks guys!
bonehead -- Thursday, January 1, 2004 at 2:14 p.m.

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