It is entirely possible to manufacture a fermented sausage with just a handful of ingredients. In fact, only five ingredients are essential: meat, sugar, salt, culture, and a curing agent. As discussed above, fermented meats can indeed be made without adding a culture, but most large-scale manufacturers would not dream of making product without a culture. Likewise, fermented sausages also can be manufactured in the absence of the curing agent. However, these agents, either in the form of nitrite or nitrate, perform such important microbiological and organoleptic functions that they are nearly universally used. That being said, there is a small (but growing) market among organic foods proponents for reduced or even nitrite-free meat products. Even if the organoleptic properties provided by nitrite could be provided by other agents (a big if), removing nitrite from cured meat products would expose these products to a potentially serious food safety threat. Still, provided that other barriers are in place, especially low pH and low temperature, theoretically safe products can be produced.
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