Okay kids! Let's press on a little. First thing we should do is review a bit and make sure we understand the process of each type
of sausage we are making.
Preliminary Notes For: SAUSAGE TYPE 2
"Cured - Cooked - Smoked Sausage"
"Cured - Cooked - Smoked Sausage
" contains sodium nitrite (NaNO2) (Cure #1) to destroy clostridium botulinum
and listeria myocytogenes
while being fully cooked (and simultaneously smoked), to destroy any possible spiralis trichinella
. Only Prague Powder #1
is used making this type sausage. The cooking-smoking process involves no more than a few hours time with little special equipment. However, it is important to bear in mind, if you have drippings all over the floor of your smokehouse, you are cooking the sausage too quickly with too much heat. Worse, the sausage`s texture will resemble and taste like crumbly sawdust. You must cook sausage slowly, gradually increasing the heat - only a few degrees every half hour or so - until the specified internal meat temperature is reached.
All "smoked-cooked-cured" products are perishable and must be refrigerated.
Unlike fresh sausage that crumbles and shrinks during prolonged cooking, smoked-cooked-cured sausage usually contains a binder
of soy protein or non-fat dry milk in amounts of 3-1/2 % or less, causing sausage to maintain its volume, bind the fibers together, and retain juices while being fully cooked. Soy protein may be purchased from any sausage supply company and "dairy-fine" powdered milk from a large dairy. Milk powder at your local supermarket is not the correct consistency for use in sausage making, although a few of our member have pulverized it into powder in a food processor.
Sodium Nitrates And Sodium Nitrites
During the mid 1970`s, I became interested in a congressional hearing that took place to define safe limits on the amount of nitrates and nitrites introduced into our meat products. It was determined by a panel of doctors that the maximum limit of ingoing nitrite in immersed, pumped, or massaged products be set at 200 parts per million. To obtain this, it becomes necessary to add precisely 4.2 ounces (120 grams) to one U.S. gallon of water.
In the case of comminuted sausages, the maximum allowed limit of sodium nitrite was determined to be 156 parts per million. In non-cooked, dry-cured (air-dried) fermented sausages, the limit was set at 625 parts per million. At the end of the hearings, it was determined that much more study should be done regarding the subject and it was decided that the panel would reconvene to study the issue further and again make recommendations. After 37 years of waiting, we see that there yet remains a wide controversy regarding "safe" and "effective" levels. However, after the hearings, Dr. C. L. Griffith developed the first practical and safe method of dispersing precisely the correct amount of sodium nitrite into sausage made my home hobbyists.
We have used his calculations and "pink salt" since the mid 1970`s.
Griffith Laboratories And Prague Powder Cure #1
In the United States, the only persons with access to pure sodium nitrite are commercial professionals who cure meat for a living. They basically use the formula above, but substitute pure sodium nitrite in their own formulas in place of the hobbyist`s "Cure #1" which is mixed with salt. By equally dispersing nitrate into salt via a roller "drum", Griffith Laboratories developed "Prague Powder Cure #1" containing 6.25% sodium nitrite and 93.75% sodium chloride. Because many nations around the globe (including the United States) yet do not use the metric system, I`ve found that many people are confused when it comes time to put a specific number of grams into a curing mixture. Let`s see if we can eliminate some of the confusion by posting a few mathematical equations:
1 ounce of Cure #1 = 6 level teaspoons (2 tablespoons).
One ounce of cure weighs 28.35 grams.
4 ounces of Cure #1 will cure 100 lbs. of sausage.
Four ounces of cure weigh 113.4 grams.
1 ounce of Cure #1 (2 tablespoons) will cure 25 lbs. of sausage.
1/2 ounce of Cure #1 will cure 12 lbs. of sausage. This means less than 1/2 ounce will cure ten pounds of sausage.
4.8 ounces of Cure #1 (in the formula above) is equal to 136 grams and will cure 100 lbs. of meat.
In other words, use 2 level teaspoons of Cure #1 (Prague Powder) to cure 10 lbs. of meat.
... for the mathematically inclined
Calculating Legal Amounts Of Sodium Nitrates And Sodium Nitrites
Is it possible to calculate the amounts needed in your own projects? Sure it is.
If you are one of those folks who like to see the "proof in the puddin`,
then you may wish to study this next section on how to calculate the legal amounts of sodium nitrate and sodium nitrite yourself.
Solving For "n" (nitrite in curing mixture) In Comminuted Sausage:
To calculate formulas regarding cures, it is necessary to convert the weight of all components to a common unit such as pounds, ounces, kilograms, grams etc. Let`s look at comminuted sausage first and solve the question, "If I grind and prepare 100 lbs. of sausage meat, how much cure #1 do I need to add to the mixture?" The formula solving for "parts per million" equals the curing mixture (unknown), times the percentage of sodium nitrite in the cure, times one million (parts), divided by the weight of the meat. Mathematically written, it looks like this:
Parts per million = Curing mixture X % sodium nitrite in the cure X 1,000,000 (one million) ÷ Weight of meat
Cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is written as: 0.0625
Maximum allowed parts per million sodium nitrite in comminuted products is 156 ppm.
Amount of Cure #1 (unknown represented by "n" for "nitrite")
The formula is written: 156 = n X 0.0625 X 1,000,000 ÷ 100
Enter these figures into your calculator:
n (nitrite)=156 X 100(lbs) ÷ 0.0625 X 1,000,000
The answer is: n=0.2496 lbs. of Cure #1.
0.2496 lbs. = equals 3.99 ounces or (113 grams)
113 grams of Cure #1 is needed to cure 100 lbs. of meat.
FOR YOUR FUTURE REFERENCE
- Solving For "n" (nitrite in curing mixture) In Brine-Cured Products
Now consider brine curing mixture. It`s easy to substitute 200 for 156 in the formula for parts per million, but we must remember that in comminuted sausage, the nitrite remains inside the sausage - becoming nitric oxide having been reduced by staphylococcus and micrococcus bacteria. In a brine-cured meat product, a specific amount of nitrite is taken up or "picked up" then the remainder is flushed straight down the drain. There are too many variables in the process, including duration time in proportion to strength, to make precise conclusions or even construct any number of graphs or tables to accurately predict outcome. As Stan Marianski says, "A meat piece can be immersed in brine for a day, a week, or a month, and a different amount of sodium nitrite will penetrate the meat. Brines with different salt concentrations will exhibit different speeds of salt and nitrite penetration." - (Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages by Stan Marianski - Bookmagic).
How is consistency ensured? Commercial meat processors employ an injection process that eliminates conjecture insufficient to ensure reliability. Modern processors, using a "gang" of needles, stitch-pump a precisely measured amount of a defined and particular strength wet cure based upon a ten-percent pickup.
So, if you have a ten pound ham, you needs to inject it with one pound of brine. To calculate the amount of Cure #1 in this case (placing it into a brine), we need to know the weight of a gallon of water. The formula reads, "Parts per million equal the curing mixture "n" (nitrite in curing mixture), times the % of sodium nitrite in the cure, times the pump percentage, times one million, divided by the brine weight". Mathematically written, it looks like this:
PPM = Curing mixture X the % sodium nitrite in the cure X pumped %, X 1,000,000 ÷ Brine Weight
Cure #1 contains 6.25% sodium nitrite. It is written as: 0.0625
Maximum allowed parts per million sodium nitrite in brined products is 200ppm.
Hams should be pumped at 12% using Cure #1. Several whole muscle meats require only
10% pumped curing brine.
Amount of Cure #1 (unknown represented by "n" for "nitrite")
Note that this time we are factoring in the pumped percentage required by the particular meat (i.e. 12% for hams). We are also dealing with the weight of the brine rather than the weight of the meat. A gallon (U.S.) of water weighs 8.33 lbs. If that water is saturated (100°), it contains 2.64 lbs. of salt. This is the point where no more salt may be dissolved in the water and the total weight of the gallon of water becomes 10.03 lbs. Because we do not use saturated brine (100°), the weight of brines will vary according to how much salt is contained in them. A very popular brine is that of 40°SAL strength. However, reducing the strength (from 100° to 40°) drops the weight of a gallon to 9.5 lbs.
So, the "curing mixture" = parts per million, X brine weight, ÷ % pump, X 0.0625 (sodium nitrate in the cure) X 1,000,000 (one million). Written, it becomes:
"n" = 200 (parts per million) X 950 (brine weight) ÷ 0.12 (percent pump) X 0.0625 X 1,000,000.
now. Let`s say you decide to mix up a hundred gallons of brine to "cure the herd on the spot", pumping not hams this time at 12%, rather beef chucks at only 10%! How much Cure #1 will be needed to add to the water to make a curing brine? Grab your calculators and solve for "n" (nitrate) using the formula above.
n = 200 X 9.5 ÷ 0.10 X 0.0625 X 1,000,000
Check you math here: 200 X 9.5 = 1900. That number is divided by the product of .10 X .0625 X 1,000,000 which is 6250.
The answer is: n=0.30 lbs. of Cure #1 (based on 9.5 lbs. per gallon) 0.30 lbs = 4.8 ounces or 136 grams.
Please read the following:
Okay, folks... we should start thinkin'
about the finer points of our next sausage project. We are going to ask El DuckO to select one of his chorizo recipes and alter it just a bit for the express purpose of making a "Semi-Dry-Cured Chorizo". Shucks, I think we ought to call it "Project "C"
We'll cook and cure it alright, but then we'll allow a Bactoferm FLC culture to ferment the sausage in only about two days! We'll also dry the sausage further to a point below Aw 0.85. Hmmm... chorizo snack stick cut with a pocket knife and eaten with a few crackers and some cheese should be a very welcome treat!
The USDA has made the statement, "A potentially hazardous food does not include a food with a water activity value of 0.85 Aw or less".
What does this mean? To make meat safe to eat, we must destroy pathogenic
bacteria. Because all microorganisms need water to live,
the easiest way this can be done is to "bind"
or lock up their water supply. When this is achieved, the measurement is called "water activity"
and it is abbreviated Aw
. Of course there is a scale
used to indicate levels of water activity. Thus, when a sausage loses enough moisture, the bacteria is no longer a threat. However, for each different bacterium, the level of dryness varies depending how "resistant" each strain is. Sausage must be dried to a point below 1.0 to take out the campylobacter
and about 0.95 to eliminate cl.botulinum
, and somewhere about 0.91 to destroy listeria
. However, the very resistant staphylococcus aureus
will thrive until the Aw drop reaches a point below 0.86 on the scale, and that is a fairly dry sausage.
The other practical
method of destroying bacteria is to introduce it to an acid. The most sensible and cost effective is lactic acid, produced when lactobacilli
bacteria react with natural sugars to produce lactic acid. In turn, this "lactic acid" also limits pathogenic and spoilage bacteria as well as giving the sausage a unique "tang"
or "sour flavor".
Later, as we discuss "fermented" or "tangy" flavor in sausage, you'll have to consider these two factors in making a successful "semi-dry-cured" sausage. For now, please read and study the following and ask any questions you may have.
What is "Semi-Dry Cured" Sausage?
Depending upon the amount of moisture they contain, sausages may be grouped as:
- 10% weight loss, OR...
- 20% weight loss, OR...
- 30% weight loss.
Semi-dry cured sausage may be made with or without cultures and may or may not be pre-cooked although nearly always, they are indeed cooked
. Due to modern health concerns, it is recommended that all semi-dry cured sausages be par-cooked. Commercially, this application is now required. Semi-dry cured sausage is usually
cured by fermenting the sausage at least 48 hours rendering an acidic content of pH 5.2 or lower, then by drying it to a point below Aw 0.89 or lower.
Please note that this type of sausage is normally cured using Cure #1
te), as reservoirs of nitra
te are not needed in short-term fermentation. (Sausage known as "fully dry-cured" or just "dry-cured", use Cure #2
, which has BOTH sodium nitrite (to act immediately), and sodium nitrate (which breaks down over time
into sodium nitrite and then into nitric oxide).
What makes it different?
(A bit of a "review"
)... Lots of this stuff is REPEATED! - Yup, just for YOU.
Refrigerated "fresh" sausages must be used up within three days or frozen for use later. If the same sausage however, contains a prescribed amount of sodium nitrite and is smoke-cooked, it becomes a delicious "smoke-cooked" type sausage. Can this sausage be further preserved?
1. What if we "bumped up" the sausage a little, by quickly fermenting it - that is, BY USING A PRELIMINARY CURING STEP in traditionally-made (no culture used) sausages, OR by using a culture to drop the pH level to 5.3 or less.
2. What if we "bumped up" the sausage a little, by drying it to a point below Aw 0.85, where most bacteria no longer had an effect upon it? We could then store it at around 45°; F. in 75% humidity and the sausage would be "ready to eat" for an extended period of time. (Does "jerky" come to mind?)
Unlike dry-cured sausages, the semi-dry variety is usually pre-cooked (par-cooked) to about 148°F after fermenting and smoking have taken place. By reaching and surpassing the temperature of 138° F., the threat of trichinella spiralis is eliminated.
Often this cooking step is accomplished simultaneously, while the smoking is being done.
Great idea eh? The sausage we are talking about has been prep-cooked
to destroy any possible trichinella spiralis
, and it has been cured with nitrite to prevent the development of any possible clostridium botulinum
. The drawback is a loss of 20% of its original weight. (In fully dry-cured the loss is nearly 35% of its original weight). On the other hand, we would have the ultimate snack stick to take along hunting or hiking for a quick, lightweight, high-protein bite to eat. It surely beats high-sugar or high-carbohydrate snacks or candy. Sure, it would probably develop a little "white" mold, but we could always safely wipe it off before eating it. Better yet, we could prolong its preservation by vacuum-packing it in plastic or glass and not have to even worry about mold.
Semi-dry cured sausages are usually ground a little more coarsely and are made safe by an acidification level reaching pH 5.3 (or less) as mentioned. If a "fast" culture such as LHP is used, this may be accomplished in as little as two days. A "medium" culture such as F-RM-52 requires about 4 days. If these quick-acting cultures are used, it should be understood that the sausage will be "tangy" as staphylococcus
"flavor and color-forming" bacteria simply do not have time to develop. The recipe for this type of sausage will almost always contain some additional sugar for the lactic acid bacteria to work on quickly to more effectively raise the acidity. Applying smoke during the fermentation stage is not recommended as smoke contains substances which may impede reactions between meat and beneficial bacteria, especially in the surface area.
Note: Some old recipes have no requirements for cooking semi-dry cured sausage. If no heat treatment is planned in making a semi-dry cured sausage, it is now recommended that home sausage makers use a culture. Commercial suppliers are now being required to cook semi-dry cured products until the internal meat temperature reaches 160°F. This cooking step provides additional safety in sausage production whether the meat is smoked or not.
Before starter cultures were widely available to hobbyist home sausage makers, it was not uncommon to see "semi-dry cured" sausages made without prep-cooking. Today, the cooking step is strongly recommended as an additional measure of safety.
Again, the "chorizo" semi-dry-cured sausage recipe selected for this part of Project B2, will introduce you to a great semi-dry sausage without having to build a fermentation chamber. Because of the small diameter of the sausage, it dries quickly, dropping to save levels within a matter of only a couple of days. At the same time, the heat of cooking eliminates any possibility of trichinae.
Depending upon the type of sausage being made, the temperature may be boosted as high as 115°F., the humidity elevated to 95%, with an air exchange speed of about two miles per hour (0.8 m per sec.) as fermentation begins inside a special variable "fermentation chamber". Several hours later, these conditions have normally decreased substantially. We may say that fermentation is the controlled production of lactic acid under conditions of consistently monitored and frequently adjusted humidity, temperature, and air flow. Until the fermentation process begins, the only protection against pathogenic bacteria is the sausage`s salt content, the addition of nitrite, and the initially low bacteria count of the meat. Following 48 hours of fermentation, the sugar-fed lactobacilli
have usually metabolized enough sugar to produce a sufficient quantity of lactic acid to render the sausage safely acidic.