One of the most important considerations for semidry sausages during formulation, mixing, and stuffing into casings is good temperature control of the meat ingredients. Fresh (unfrozen) ingredients must be as cold as possible, preferably — 5°C to —2°C prior to the first grinding or chopping treatment. Frozen meat is often blended with unfrozen meat to maintain low temperatures. The primary purpose of the low temperature is to maintain clearly defined fat particles and a sharp fat-to-lean color contrast when the finished product is sliced. Good temperature control also prevents fat smearing during mixing and stuffing, an effect that is more critical for products that are dried following fermentation. Some processors will chill fat meat sources to temperature as low as —15°C to —12°C to produce the best possible particle definition.
Mixing time for semidry sausages should be limited to the minimum necessary to achieve good dispersion of all ingredients. Curing ingredients and spices should be added first, salt should be added toward the end of the mixing cycle, and culture should be added last after all other ingredients are well dispersed.
Many processors prefer to use choppers for semidry sausages because the cutting action of the chopper blades results in cleanly cut particles. A potential disadvantage to using a chopper is that the fat and lean particles are seldom uniform in size. Grinders provide for particle size uniformity and have an additional advantage in that bone removal systems can be utilized. The disadvantage to a grinder is the likelihood for greater fat smearing and less particle differentiation.
When mixers are used, a paddle mixer or blender is generally considered to be superior to ribbon-type mixers because of the need to prevent fat smearing. A closed mixer that can be operated under vacuum is also valuable for removal of air. Removing air during mixing has several advantages, including better appearance (no air bubbles or vacuoles), better color stability, and improved flavor stability.
A number of different casings are available for semidry sausages, including natural, collagen, or cellulose casings. These casings differ in appearance, strength, and uniformity. Natural casings provide the most traditional appearance whereas collagen and cellulose offer much better uniformity and, in the case of cellulose, strength as well. Regardless of the casing chosen, however, it is important to stuff casings to the manufacturer's recommended diameter to avoid air pockets, wrinkling, or splitting. Stuffing horns need to be correctly sized to the casing and free of dents and defects in order to minimize fat smearing during stuffing.
Was this article helpful?