Fermented meat products such as ham and sausages have been available in different cultures for centuries. It is interesting to learn that the ways these products are produced are basically very similar in different cultures. Besides the meat, nitrite and salt, and sugar (optional), pure cultures are sometimes used, especially in fermented sausages. Microorganisms not only provide the characteristic flavor for the products, but the lactic acid bacteria also produce lactic and other acids that can lower the pH of the products. Pure cultures are sometimes used in hams to lower the pH for the benefit of inhibition of growth of Clostridium botulinum. The raw meat for ham manufacturing is basically a large chunk of meat. It is difficult for the microorganisms to penetrate into the center, unless they are injected into the interior. The microbial growth is mainly on the surface and their enzymes are gradually diffused into the center. In comparison, for sausages, the cultures, if used, are mixed with the ingredients at the beginning and the fermentation is carried out without difficulty. Besides, sausages are much smaller than hams. Table 27 lists some of the ingredients used in the manufacture of hams and sausages (19-27).
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