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SAUSAGES Sausage is defined as ground meat mixed with fat, salt and other seasonings, preservatives, and sometimes

fillers. Some sausage mixtures are sold in bulk form, and others forced into casings to form links.

Sausage is available in fresh form, which needs to be cooked before consumption, and dry or cured form, which are already cooked.

Virtually any type of meat can be used in sausage, but most common are pork or pork blends. Variety truly is the spice of life, with spicy, hot sausages and bland sausages, and with flavorings running the gamut from garlic to nutmeg.

Creative chefs are also making sausages from vegetable and seafood blends for those who eschew meats. There are also ways to lower the fat if you make your own at home.These are the basic categories (not flavors) of sausages.

Fresh Sausage: made from meats that are neither cured nor smoked. They must be cooked before serving.

Cooked Sausage: made from uncured meats that are cooked but not smoked.

Cooked, Smoked Sausage: made from cured meats that are lightly smoked, then cooked. They do not require further cooking. These include bologna and hot dogs.

Uncooked, Smoked Sausage: either cooked or cured meats that are smoked and then later cooked before serving.

Dry Sausage: also called summer sausage (because it can be kept in warm weather without refrigeration) and seminary sausage (because it is associated with the type of sausages made at monasteries), made from cured sausage that is air-dried under controlled time temperaturehumidity conditions. They may or may not be smoked. Lebanon bologna,

salami, kosher sausage, and Spanish chorizo are examples of such sausages.

Specialty Meats: a wide range of products made from cured or noncured chopped or comminuted meats, usually baked or cooked rather than smoked and formed into loaves to be sliced and served cold in salads or sandwiches or as a breakfast meat, like scrapple. There are four main categories of sausages: fresh, cooked and smoked, cooked, and semi-dry and dry. The sausages listed here are basically ground meat, seasoned and flavored, with added fat, stuffed into casings. Bulk sausage is flavored ground meat, usually pork, that is cooked like ground beef, or formed into patties. No matter which sausage you use, be sure to read the label for handling and cooking instructions. A sausage which is smoked or dried, for instance, isn't necessarily fully cooked and ready to eat without further cooking. Many people are concerned about nitrates and nitrites, preservatives used in the making of smoked meat and sausages. These curing agents stop bacterial contamination and give the product a pink color and distinctive flavor. If you shop carefully, you can find products labeled nitrate and nitrite-free. In the chart below, the ingredients listed for each sausage are generic. Specific brands of sausages may have slightly different ingredients; however, these ingredients are considered typical. Oh, and Polish Sausage and Kielbasa are basically the same and are interchangeable; kielbasa is a polish word that means 'sausage'. One of the differences is that Kielbasa is sold in rings rather than separate links. Just use the brand you like! SAUSAGE Polish Sausage TYPE Fresh INGREDIENTS COOKING METHOD Pork, beef, garlic, thyme or marjoram, pork fat, pepper Beef, pork, garlic, pork or beef fat, mustard Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F


Fresh, Smoked


Fresh, Pork or beef, sometimes veal, dry milk, smoked onion, garlic, and cooked coriander, caraway,

nutmeg Salami Dry, Cured Highly seasoned: garlic, salt, pepper, sugar Sweet: garlic, sugar, anise, and fennel Hot: paprika, chile peppers, onion, garlic, fennel, parsley Cervelat or Summer Sausage Andouille Cured, Smoked, Semi-Dry Smoked Pork, beef, Ready to garlic, mustard, eat mild spices Pork, salt, very Ready to spicy, sugar, eat paprika, red pepper, garlic, sage Pork, fat, eggs, Gently cream, bread saute crumbs, seasonings Ready to eat; spreadable Ready to eat; better sauteed Ready to eat

Sweet or Hot Fresh Italian

Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F

Boudin Blanc Fresh, delicate

Braunschweig Precooked, Smoked liver, er smoked eggs, milk Boudin Noir Precooked Pig's blood, suet, bread crumbs

Knackwurst Linguica

Precooked, Beef, pork, lots Ready to Smoked of garlic, cumin eat Cured, Smoked Pork butt, lots of Usually garlic, cumin, ready to eat cinnamon, vinegar Pork, beef, lots Usually of black and red ready to eat



pepper Chorizo Dry, Smoked Pork, cilantro, Usually paprika, garlic, ready to chili powder, eat very spicy Cubes of pork fat, pork, beef, peppercorns, garlic, anise Steam, Fry, Grill, Bake to 155 degrees F


Semi-Dry, Smoked

Hot Dogs

Cooked, Smoked, Cured Fresh

Cured beef and Ready to pork, garlic, salt,eat sugar, mustard, pepper Veal, pork, milk, Steam, chives, eggs Saute, Bake to 155 degrees F Cured beef and Ready to pork, garlic, salt eat



Cooked, Smoked

Sausage Casings

Traditionally, link sausage is stuffed into natural casings made from the intestines of animals, but artificial (usually collagen) casings are available on the market. (These days most commercial common sausages use synthetic casings.) Some artificial casings require soaking in hot tap water before use, and need to be punctured with a knife point before stuffing to eliminate air pockets.

If you do not have access to natural or artificial casings or just do not want to use them but still want to make sausage links, you can make casings from strips of muslin. To form casings about 1-1/2 inches in diameter, cut strips about 6 inches wide and 16 inches long. Fold lengthwise and stitch edges together to form tubes.

If you do not use casings at all, you can still form links by rolling up the mixture in foil or plastic wrap and refrigerating until firm. The uncased method of links needs a binder (bread crumbs, soy protein concentrate, etc.) in the sausage mix, normally 5 to 10 percent of the mix, to keep the meat from separating during cooking. Reduce the fat in sausage

Of course, by making your own at home, you can control the ingredients, spices, and fillers. Those on a low-fat diet can control the fat content of homemade sausage, but keep in mind that less fat will mean a dry sausage.

Sausage and your health The U.S. Department of Agriculture mandates that fresh sausage contain no sodium nitrite and/or potassium nitrite, and no nitrates.

However, cured sausages do normally contain one of these preservatives, which are suspected suspected of contributing to cancer. Many people are allergic to nitrites and nitrates as well as fillers such as soy and other common food allergens, so beware of these ingredients in commercial cured varieties. Read the ingredients label.

Cured varieties also contain high amounts of salt, necessary to the curing process, which could be a potential problem for those with high blood pressure. Yet those varieties containing pork are rich in thiamine and vitamin B12 which helps promote healthy nerves and skin. Many are also a significant source of zinc. Adding fruits, such as chopped apple or raisins will add moisture back. You may also try onions, mushrooms, and other moisture-rich veggies or even tofu.

You can further reduce the fat content up to 20 percent by cooking fresh sausages, draining the fat, and then patting it dry with paper towels. Using sausage in small amounts as a flavor accent instead of as a main dish will also help reduce fat in your diet, yet still let you enjoy a bit of sausage. Definition Raw-fermented sausages receive their characteristic properties (tangy flavour, in most cases chewy texture, intense red curing colour) through fermentation processes, which are generated through physical and chemical conditions created in raw meat mixes filled into casings. Typical raw-fermented sausages are uncooked meat products and consist of coarse mixtures of lean meats and fatty tissuescombined with salts, nitrite (curing agent), sugars and spices as

non-meat ingredients. In most products, uniform fat particles can clearly be distinguished as white spots embedded in dark-red lean meat, with particle sizes varying between 2-12mm depending on the product. In addition to fermentation, ripening phases combined with moisture reduction are necessary to build-up the typical flavour and texture of the final product. The need for moisture reduction requires the utilization of water-vapour permeable casings (see page 249, 261, 263). The products are not subjected to any heat treatment during processing and are in most cases distributed and consumed raw.

Fig. 149: Raw fermented sausage products of different calibres and degrees of chopping Biochemical processes in manufacture Raw-fermented sausage products have been developed and produced for centuries in regions with moderate climates around the world. Traditionally, the fabrication took place during the cold season, as relatively low temperatures are required for fermentation, drying and ripening. At the end of the ripening phase, raw-fermented sausages, also known as dry sausages, are considered shelfstable even under higher temperatures. A sub-group of raw-fermented sausages are the semi-dry and/or spreadable products. Principles of manufacture of these semi-dry products are discussed at the end of the chapter. In the past, when cooling facilities were not readily available, their shelf-stability made raw-fermented sausages very popular as an animal protein reserve for food security purposes. Nowadays, these products are fermented, dried and ripened in artificially climatized rooms or chambers and can therefore also be fabricated during warmer seasons and even in tropical climates. In the specific case of raw-fermented sausages, fermentation refers to the breakdown of carbohydrates (sugars) present in meat mixtures, mainly to lactic acid. Traditionally processors of raw-fermented sausages relied on the action of fermentation bacteria, naturally present in the meat contaminating flora. Relatively low temperatures (around 20C) are instrumental in stimulating the growth of the desiredfermentation flora, while the growth of the spoilage bacteria is suppressed. Conditions for spoilage bacteria become gradually more unfavourable, as the fermentation bacteria produce acids resulting in the decline of the pH-values in the product. The development of the desired fermentation flora

also contributes to the typical taste, appearance and texture of raw-fermented sausages. An additional measure to control spoilage bacteria in the product is the controlled decrease of moisture (reduction of aw) during fermentation and ripening. Spoilage bacteria need higher aw values than acid producing bacteria (see page 324). These biological processes in raw-fermented sausages constitute a rare example where microbial activity can be useful. Another example is raw fermented ham. However, this biological process can get out of control, for example if temperatures in fermentation or ripening chambers are too high or if the contaminating flora is excessively numerous with an overwhelming share of spoilage bacteria. In such cases, fermentation bacteria will not sufficiently develop and the product spoils. This risk is minimized by the use of fermentation and ripening chambers with controlled air temperature and humidity favourable for fermentation and drying (Fig. 150, 151). The second measure is the use of selected fermenting bacteria (commercially produced microbial starter cultures), which are added to the sausage mix and develop the desired fermentation processes, until moisture contents reached are low enough to stop fermentation. Raw-fermented sausages depend not only on fermentation to achieve the desired texture and flavour, but during their long ripening periods other biochemical and physical factors become increasingly important. Natural fat alterations (rancidity) take place and produce strong flavours. This process can be substantially slowed down by selecting suitable raw fat materials (preferably fresh pork back fat) and applying relatively low ripening and climatization parameters (e.g. 20C and 75-80% rel. humidity). Prolonged ripening and drying also leads to low moisture contents with the consequence of more concentrated flavour component and firmer sausage texture. The water content of finished raw-fermented sausages is always below 35%, in many cases even less than 30%. This corresponds to an aw of 0.90 and below and makes the product shelf-stable. Under moderate climatic conditions and storage (e.g. 20C and 70-75% relative humidity), the products have a prolonged shelf life of over one year. Raw-fermented sausages have moderate acidity with pH-values in the range of 5.0 to 5.5. Some manufacturers still rely on their typical meat plant flora to initiate the fermentation process. The use of starter cultures has the big advantage that the initial biological process can be controlled/directed and growth of spoilage bacteria is reduced. Raw-fermented sausages may be produced with or without smoking. Un-smoked products are called air-dried. The ripening and drying periods are determined by the sausage formulation and casing diameter. Ripening periods can amount up to 90 days, but most rawfermented sausages are finished within 3-4 weeks. Typical examples for dry sausages with more or less prolonged ripening periods are the various types of salamis (Hungarian, Italian, Central European, Spanish chorizo) (Fig. 152).

Fig. 150: Recently filled raw- Fig. 151: Raw-fermented sausage fermented sausage being after 10 days in ripening chamber transferred to ripening chamber Principles of manufacture (recipes page 394 399) The manufacture of raw-fermented sausages at the small to medium scale meat industry level is outlined hereunder. These sectors often lack a full range of comminuting equipment and in particular equipment for accurate climatization during fermentation and ripening and therefore face more technological challenges than larger, well equipped industries. Raw materials The processing of raw-fermented sausages is dominated by biological and biochemical processes and raw meat materials of excellent hygienic quality are a precondition for the correct functioning of such processes. Lean meat from a variety of animal sources such as cattle, pigs, horses, donkeys, camels, sheep or goats can be used. The lean meat can be from older adult animals, as water content and water holding capacity of such meat is lower, which supports the necessary drying processes during fermentation and ripening. All meat used must be chilled for some time to reach its lowest ph-values. Beef meat should have pH-values at 5.4-5.5, pork meat 5.7-5.8. All lean meats for raw-fermented sausages need extra careful trimming of sinews and softer inter-muscular fatty tissue. Remaining sinews will remain tough and are not desired by consumers. In most products fresh chilled pork backfat is used as it is firm and dry and remains stable without pronounced rancidity even after prolonged ripening periods. Softer inter-muscular fatty tissue should not be used as it cannot be chopped to clearly defined particles and would result in somewhat blurred unclear appearance of slices of the final products. Soft fat also increases the risk of early rancidity. If fats from other species of slaughter animals are used, only firm body fats should be considered (see page 10, 46). Importance of bacteria Bacterial starter cultures have a variety of functions including:

Boosting acidity (decreasing pH) Intensify the curing colour (acid environment catalyses curing reaction) Counteract rancidity of fats (due to enzymatic impacts) Development of flavour and taste Texture improvement of ripened products (by supporting formation of protein gel in sausage mixes).

Over the years, mainly bacteria belonging to the groups of Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Staphylococcus and Streptococcus have been identified and cultivated for commercial starter cultures, as they proved to provide the best results in terms of producing lactic acid, developing ripening flavour, and are generally harmless in terms of product spoilage and impact on consumers health. Depending on the desired taste, texture and appearance of the product, specific cultures are selected. The use of Lactobacillus results in fast acidification to lower pH-values, the use of Pediococcus leads to slower and milder acidification. Selected Staphylococcus strains cause a speedy reduction of nitrite, stable curing colour and reduced risk of fat rancidity, especially in products fabricated with Glucono-delta-Lacton (GdL, see page 120). In most cases mixtures from different strains are used in order to achieve the best product specific results, for example in sausages with normal diameters (3570 mm) an even mixture of Lactobacillus and Staphylococcus can be used to achieve the product-typical flavour, texture and taste. In sausages with of larger diameter (70-100 mm), the starter culture mixture normally contains a lower amount of Lactobacillus and a higher portion of Staphylococcus, as these products need more time to reach microbial growth inhibiting moisture contents. The strong potential of Staphylococcus to stabilize curing colour and fats is helpful in this context. Importance of salt, curing agents and sugars One of the main targets during fermentation and ripening of raw-fermented sausages is the reduction of their water content. The moisture to be reduced is exclusively from the muscle meat which has a water content of around 80%. The addition of salt lowers the awvalue of the mix by absorbing water, which presents an initial hurdle for unwanted bacteria. Furthermore, in the presence of salt, saltsoluble proteins are extracted from the small lean meat particles after grinding and chopping. These solubilized or gelatinous proteins act like an adhesive between the interfaces of lean meat and fat particles in the meat mix. The result is an increasingly firm structure with progressive ripening and drying of the products. The average quantity of salt added to raw-fermented sausages should be between 26-30 g/kg (2.6-3.0%) but not below 26 g/kg (2.6%). It should be noted that the salt content in percent in the final products will always be higher than in the initial mix, as these products lose a substantial amount of water. Salt contents in final products can be from 3 - 4.5% depending on the initial salting.

In raw-fermented sausages, salt is also used as a carrier for the curing agent, normally sodium nitrite. This curing agent is not only responsible for the development of a typical red cured meat colour, but also has bacterial growth inhibiting properties, especially on some pathogenic bacteria (see page 68). In raw-fermented sausages with a slow decrease of pH-values and prolonged ripening periods,nitrate can also be used as a curing substance. The use of both, nitrite and nitrate results in similar colour and taste. The main difference is that nitrate must first be reduced to nitrite by bacteria, which is a time-consuming process and hence only applicable to long-term ripened products. The slowly progressing acidity in such sausages allows the bacterial breakdown of nitrate to nitrite. The following reduction of nitrite to nitrogen oxide (NO), which is the substance effective in the curing reaction, is a relatively fast chemical process (principles of curing see page 34). The use of nitrate, mixed with nitrite is favoured by some processors as it is associated with better colour and flavour. From the technical point of view, the purpose of adding sugars is to facilitate and strengthen the fermentation by bacteria. Provision of a sweet flavour to counteract acidity in the final product is normally not intended. The bacterial breakdown of sugars results in the accumulation of lactic acid and in a low pH-value (acidification) as well as the development of a typical flavour. In order to support this process, lactic acid producing bacteria (starter cultures such as lactobacillus or pediococcus, see page 118) can be added to the sausage mix. Simple sugars such as dextrose or fructose support an early drop in pH-values as they are easily broken down by bacterial action. The breakdown of lactose is slower and takes longer. Often a mixture of different sugars is used. Another sugar-based additive is GdL (Glucono-delta-Lactone), which accelerates and intensifies the acidification process by reacting to glucono-acid in the presence of water (muscle tissue water). It is preferably used in semi-dry and/or spreadable products, which are not for long-term ripening and storage, but for consumption within a short period after production. Production methods As a rule of the thumb, raw-fermented sausages are fabricated with 20-35% fatty tissue and 65-80% lean meat, from one or more than one animal species, e.g. beef and pork or pork only or beef only. Other variations are also possible. If fatty tissue other than pork back fat is used the percentages for the fat are usually lower. The techniques of comminuting of meat and fat for raw-fermented sausages differ from other meat products. Raw-fermented sausages may be composed of coarse, medium or tiny meat and fat particles (Fig. 152). The degree of chopping can be visualized by the size of the fat particles in the final product. Some traditional Mediterranean (Italian, Spanish, French, etc.) salamis are chopped coarsely (6-12mm), but the majority of raw-fermented sausages are chopped moderately (2-5mm). Only a few semi-dry and/or spreadable products are finely chopped (see Fig. 158).

Fig. 152: Different degrees of chopping (different fat particle size) In small to medium-sized processing, there are two methods of manufacture of raw-fermented sausage mixes, which basically differ by the method of comminution of the raw materials. Applying a simple comminuting method, only meat grinders are used to prepare the sausage mixes. In more advanced techniques meat grinders and bowl cutters are used. Method 1: In small-scale operations with only meat grinding equipment available, production is restricted to ground sausage mixes. The lean meat needs to be thoroughly chilled (+1C) or even slightly frozen. The fat portion should be cut into small and uniform dices (10-20 mm, domino chip size) and frozen (-12C) in order to obtain clearly and evenly cut particles in the initial chopping of the sausage mix. Clearly cut particles of firm solid fat also avoid greasing of the casing from inside, which would make drying more difficult. Firstly, part of the lean meat is minced 3-5mm (approx. 30%) and the remaining lean meat is cut into small pieces (20-50 mm). The chilled meat pieces and frozen fat dices are thoroughly mixed with all additives (curing salt, sugars, starter cultures, spices, etc), before the minced meat portion is added and incorporated in the mixture. The entire mixture is now passed through the meat grinder (disc size 3-6 mm), packed into the sausage stuffer and stuffed into casings. Delays leading to warming up of the mixture need to be avoided as this would result in greasing during the stuffing. For the stuffing, natural or artificial casings can be used. Typical natural casings, depending on the desired sausage diameter, are those derived from the small intestines of pigs, sheep, cattle or horses. Artificial casings used are fibrous or collagen casings. One important requirement for casings used for raw-fermented sausages is to closely adhere to the sausage mix not only after filling but also during the drying period when sausages shrink. The casings used must be water vapour permeable, otherwise no drying during fermentation and ripening can take place and the products would spoil. The required conditions are met by natural casings, and fibrous and collagen casings (see page 249). Method 2: With a bowl cutter available, a different technology can be applied. With this method 50% of the lean meat material is minced (3 mm) and kept at 1C. The remaining 50% of the lean meat is cut into pieces of 30-50 mm diameter and slightly frozen (-10C). As per method 1, the fat is cut into small dices

(preferably 10-20 mm, domino chip size) and also frozen (-12C). Firstly, the large pieces of frozen lean meat are chopped. If starter cultures are used, they must be added at this stage. After several rounds of the frozen lean meat in the bowl cutter, the frozen fat is added together with the spices and sugars and chopping is continued at a medium speed until the fat has reached the desired particle size. Then the minced chilled meat is added under low chopper speed until an even distribution is achieved. In the next step, the nitrite curing salt is added and mixed at low speed for at least 6-8 rounds until a final temperature of around -5C is reached. This mix temperature should not be exceeded in order to avoid the greasing of the interior of the filling funnel and casings.

Fig. 153: Air pockets caused by loose stuffing. Discoloration caused by enclosed air. Above right tightly stuffed, no discoloration When lean beef and pork is used for the above raw-fermented sausage fabrication, the beef should be chosen for the 50% lean meat portion to be minced, while the pork portion is preferably used frozen. The sausage mix is packed into the sausage stuffer and stuffed into the casings as firmly as possible to avoid air pockets. Excessive air inside the casing will discolour the meat and reduce the shelf life of the sausage (Fig. 153). Selected natural or artificial casings can be used as above. Drying/ripening The freshly filled sausages are subjected to the crucial part of their manufacturing process, namely fermentation, drying and ripening. To this purpose they are transferred to either a climatized room or a modern combined smoking/drying chamber. Directly after stuffing, the sausage mix is still in the temperature range below zero (below freezing point). It is therefore advisable to include a tempering period of three hours at moderate room temperature before the sausages are transferred to the drying/ripening chamber (Fig. 150).

The immediate goal is to allow moisture release from the sausages and to initiate the fermentation processes, e.g. to provide proper growth conditions for the fermentation bacteria. A high relative humidity at the outset of the drying operation, which keeps sausage casings wet and soft, and the gradual lowering of the air humidity in the advanced stages of the process are the key factors to enable the moisture to migrate from the interior of the sausage to the outer layer. Temperatures and air humidity inside the drying/ripening chambers need to be adjusted carefully to support the ripening/drying process. The temperatures in the ripening chamber are initially kept at +22C and are slowly reduced to +19C. The relative humidity decreases gradually from typical values of 92-94% on the first day to 82-84% before the sausages are transferred to the ripening/storage room. During ripening the temperature is maintained at <16C at a relative humidity of 75-78%. These physical parameters are applied to ensure controlled bacterial fermentation resulting in lowering of pH to 4.9 5.4 and controlled gradual dehydration resulting in remaining moisture content in finished raw-fermented sausages as low as 30%. The duration of the drying/ripening process mainly depends on the diameter of sausages and type of sugars and starter cultures used (Table 6, see also page 320, 322). If the humidity is kept too high, excessive surface moisture is retained usually resulting in increased bacterial growth on the surface, thus forming a slimy layer. If humidity is reduced too fast especially in the early stages of the process, a hard and dry crust is formed at the outer layer of the sausage. This crust is unable to adjust to the reducing diameter caused by continuous loss of moisture and as a result cracks will appear in the centre of the product (Fig. 154).

Fig. 154: Raw-fermented Crack in centre as a consequence of excessively fast drying


In the first phase of drying, the red cured meat colour is built up in the previously grey sausage mix. The curing colour progresses from the centre of sausage to the outer region. Fermentation processes start practically from the point of transfer of the sausages into the drying/ripening chamber. The duration

of the fermentation varies depending on the calibre of the sausages, particle size of the mix, temperature and ingredients. In a typical raw-fermented sausage (particle size 3 mm, stuffed in casing of calibre 65, where a sugar mix and starter culture mix is used), the lowest pH-values should normally be reached within 5-6 days. The typical flavour and texture of the products are developed after completing fermentation and ripening (Fig. 157). One problem during the ripening period can be mould and yeast growth on the sausage casings, even under substantially decreased humidity. If these occur they can be brushed off and reoccurrence or further growth can be stopped by exposure of the sausages to smoke. Early (day 3-5) application of cold smoke at temperatures below +22C as an additional preservation measure is highly recommended. Of course, smoking is also intended to contribute to flavour and taste. Sausages are smoked from several hours to several days or even weeks according to their diameter and type of product.

Fig. 155: growth



Fig. 156: Desirable mould growth. Casing surface inoculated with mould starter culture (below), without mould growth (above) One specific group of raw-fermented sausages are the air-dried type, as they do not undergo smoking. The air-drying combined with prolonged ripening periods produces a typical yeasty-cheesy flavour, which is often intensified by intended mould-growth on the casing surfaces. Not all moulds are suitable. Some species are even capable of producing poisonous substances, which may penetrate into the sausages (see page 359). There are several cultures of selected moulds (e.g. Penicillium) available, which serve as starter cultures for desirable

mould growth. A watery suspension of such moulds can be applied onto the surface of the sausages. This suspension of moulds will adhere to the casing surface and grow over the course of the ripening period to a thin white-coloured mould overlay. These microorganisms are harmless from the health point of view but provide typical appearance and flavour to the sausages (Fig. 156).

Table 6: Raw-fermented sausages of different Normal fermentation process assisted by starter cultures Sausages 75 mm diameter Rel. Temp Day humidity aw C in % 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 92 92 91 90 89 88 87 86 85 84 83 82 81 80 80 78 23 23 22 21 21 20 20 20 19 19 19 18 18 18 17 17 0.95 0.95 0.94 0.93 0.92 0.91 0.90 0.89 0.88 0.87 0.86 0.85 0.84 0.83 0.82 0.81 Sausage 40 mm diameter Rel. Day humidity Temp C aw in % 5.80 5.70 5.40 5.20 5.00 4.90 4.80 4.80 4.85 4.90 4.90 4.95 4.95 5.00 5.00 5.05 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 92 91 90 88 87 86 85 84 83 82 80 78 76 76 76 76 22 22 22 20 20 20 20 19 19 18 18 18 17 17 17 17 0.95 0.94 0.93 0.91 0.90 0.89 0.88 0.87 0.86 0.85 0.83 0.81 0.80 0.79 0.79 0.78




5.80 5.70 5.40 5.10 5.00 4.90 4.80 4.85 4.85 4.90 4.90 4.95 5.00 5.00 5.05 5.05

Semi-dry sausages

These products (Fig. 158) are produced by forced rapid fermentation. Certain starter cultures (Staphylococcus for speedy reduction of nitrite, stable colour) are used in combination with GdL (Glucono-delta-Lacton). This boosts the growth of the desired bacterial flora (lactic acid bacteria) and drops the pH-value fast, resulting in the rapid formation of a protein gel and firm structure of the sausage, which allows slicing and cutting at an early stage. The initial fermentation and ripening period takes place at slightly higher temperatures (+24-26C) than used for long-time ripened sausages and rarely exceeds 4-7 days. The low pH of 4.8 to 5.4 also supports the fast release of meat tissue water from the sausage, but because of the short production period, the final moisture content will not go below 40%. The shelf life of such sausages is surprisingly long, up to one month, due to the accumulation of acids and smoke compounds. These products rarely spoil even in ambient temperatures but they may develop excessive acidity, hence climatized (<+18C) or refrigerated storage is recommended, in particular in subtropical and tropical countries. Acidity in semi-dry raw-fermented sausages is relatively pronounced, which makes such products less attractive to consumer groups not familiar with acid foods. But they are popular in Europe (Cervelats, Mettwurst) or in North America (Summer sausage). The product name summer sausage was coined due to the fact that this products fabrication was possible by forced fermentation during the warm season and not only in winter. A special type in the group of semi-dry sausages are the spreadable rawfermented sausages. As the name implies, these products are designed to remain soft so that they can be used as a sandwich spread. For their production the same combination of starter cultures and GdL is used, but for a different reason. The formation of protein gel must be achieved rapidly before the final mechanical chopping step. The onset of gel formation must already develop in the semi-processed sausage mix and is destroyed again by additional chopping in order to retain a soft and creamy texture in the final product. For these products, softer fatty tissues can be used as they will further facilitate the spreadable texture.

Fig. 157: Raw-fermented sausages. Fig. 158: Semi-dry fermented Long ripening period (50 days) sausages. Short ripening period (10 days)

MAKING SAUSAGE AT HOME Making sausage at home is a rewarding and interesting craft. In complexity it is somewhere between making bread and making beer or wine. The reward comes in the flavors that can't be matched by the industrial sausage found in the supermarket and the knowledge of being in control of every ingredient that goes into the sausage.

From the left in this photo we have: Hard Salami, Summer Sausage, Liver Sausage, Braunschweiger and Breakfast Sausage. In the glass on the table are Beer Sticks.

As there are many shortcuts to making sausage that are more like rolled up meat loaf, abundantly available elsewhere on the web, I will confine these pages to real sausage of the type you would find in a high quality deli.

DEFINITIONS For discussion purposes, Sausages can be divided into two basic catagories: Fresh and Cured.


Fresh sausage is cooked just prior to serving. It will only keep a few days in the refrigerator but can be frozen for future use. Examples are: Polish, bratwurst, Italian and breakfast sausage. It is traditionally stuffed into casings but can be formed into patties and fried like hamburgers. It is made up of ground meat and spices. As the user controls both, the variations are endless.


Implicit in the word cured is the use of an agent or process that provides long term keeping properties to the sausage. The use of salt, drying and fermentation are examples of curing that have been used for millenia. Modern public health practices demand the use of chemical agents in the form of nitrites and/or nitrates to assure the destruction of pathagenic organisms such as that which causes botulism. Cured sausages can further be divided into semi-dry and dried sausages. Semidry sausages, such as summer sausage and hot dogs are cooked, either in hot water or a smokehouse and will keep under refrigeration for months. Dry sausages are not cooked but are dried to about 75% of their stuffed weight over a period of several months and will keep for years at room temperature. Both types can be fermented by the addition of a lactic acid producing bacteria culture that provides a wonderful tang to the sausage in addition to the enhancement of long keeping qualities.

PROCEDURES AND EQUIPMENT. Sausages are made from ground meat. This can be purchased from a butcher already ground but the true sausage buff will sooner or later want his own meat grinder. These can be inexpensive hand cranked affairs found in most kitchen junk drawers or motor driven grinders running a wide range of prices. I use the inexpensive attachment sold for use with the Kitchen Aid mixer. All grinders operate on the same principal. An auger pushes the meat into a rotating blade that chops the meat as it forces it through the the stationary output plate. The size of the holes in the plate determine the coarseness of the ground meat. They range from 3/16" to 1/2" and the meat can be run through several times for a very fine grind. Real sausages are stuffed into casings and this requires a stuffer. Fortunately, this can be done with the same meat grinder by adding a stuffing tube.


Casings are a whole world in themselves and I refer readers to the link below for more information. The choices are myriad and include natural animal parts, fiber and plastics. My favorites are sheep casings for breakfast sausage and brats, hog casings for Polish, fibrous casings for summer sausage and beef middles for salami. The choices are endless and only with experiecne can one decide what works best for him. There are many web pages devoted to the making of sausage and I have no intention of repeating what is better said elsewhere. I do feel however, that I have come up with a few recipes for my favorite sausages and developed a few procedures that are not commonly known or discussed elsewhere. I have listed a few links below for general information on the subject.


The subject that seems to cause the most confusion to beginners is that of cures. They come in various forms and with various names but the bottom line is that one type contains sodium nitrite and the other contains sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. The generic name for the former is Prague Powder #1 and the latter is #2. These go under various trade names but are always recognized by the Prague nomenclature. Prague #1 is used for cured sausages that fall into the semi-dry catagory in addition to other cooked products such as "boiled" ham. Prague #2 is used for dried sausages and country cured hams and bacon. Both of these powders are combined with enough salt so that they can be measured out by the teaspoon for recipes. They are also colored pink to distinguish them from common salt In addition to the bacteriacidal effects of cures, the most obvious effect of cures is the pink color of the finished product. Gray or brown ham, bacon and sausage simply does not appeal to the modern consumer. Morton Salt has several products that combine the cures with large amounts of salt and sugar that provide all the salt and sugar needed for a recipe but it precludes the sausage maker from experimenting with the amounts of the ingredients in a recipe. I much prefer to use the Prague powders and adjust the salt and sugar to my taste. These cures are inexpensive and readily available from the many sources of sausage making supplies found on the web. FERMENTATION

Fermentation is another subject that has been much maligned in the amateur literature. It is either ignored completely, declared too complicated for amateurs or quack substitutes such as "Fermento" are recommended. As mentioned above, fermentation adds a taste element that simply can not be duplicated any other way. Furthermore, the lactic acid produced by the fermentation provides the sausage with an additional weapon against spoilage. Cured sausage without this step is about analogous to beer without alcohol. Prior to modern times, sausages where hung up to cure and with luck, the appropriate lactic acid producing bacteria would happen along and colonize the sausage and produce the needed fermentation. Unfortunately, as in winemaking, trusting to luck often produces unpleasant surprises. Contrary to the popular literature, the fermentation step is no more complicated than adding yeast to bread. In fact the culture is sold in foil packages just like yeast and stored in a freezer. It is inexpensive to begin with and only 1/8 tsp is required for a 5 pound batch. Because of all the misinformation, the biggest problem was finding a source for the culture and I spent several months experimenting with cheese cultures as a result. They worked fine but I eventually found a source for the proper sausage culture and it is also listed below. In use, the culture is mixed with a little water and sugar and then mixed in (along with the spices) with the meat mixture. After stuffing, the sausage is held at around 90F overnight for the fermentation to take place. This can be done in a smoker, oven with the light on or just take a little longer at room temperature. The sausage is then smoked, cooked or dried according to the recipe. There simply is no excuse for not fermenting if the type of sausage calls for it and that is just about all sausage except fresh. SMOKING

Smoking is an option with many sausages and a must for some. "Liquid smoke" provides a smoke flavor but can't come close to producing all the complex effects of real smoke. Smokers come in all shapes and sizes and are not difficult to make. There are many sources on the web for information on them so I will not discuss them other than to say that I use a "Little Chief" which I modified by installing the "Big Chief" heating element and adding an external temperature control (* see below) to it. I can ferment at 90F, smoke at 130F and cook at 160F which are the basic numbers needed for most sausage and ham. I can also Barbeque at 200F but that is another story.

Fermented Sausages

Fermented sausages are cured sausages and to produce salami of a consistent quality one must strictly obey the rules of sausage making. This field of knowledge has been limited to just a few lucky ones but with today's meat science and starter cultures available to everybody, there is little reason to abstain from making quality salamis at home. It is unlikely that a home sausage maker will measure meat pH (acidity) or Aw (water activity) but he should control temperatures and humidity levels in his drying chamber. There is a difference in fermented sausage technology between the United States and the European countries. American methods rely on rapid acid production (lowering pH) through a fast fermentation in order to stabilize the sausage against spoilage bacteria. Fast acting starter cultures such as Lactobacillus plantarum and Pediococusacidilactici are used at high temperatures up to 40 C (104 F). As a result pH drops to 4.6, the sausage is stable but the flavor suffers and the product is sour and tangy. In European countries, the temperatures of 22 -26 C (72 -78 F) are used and the drying, instead of the acidity (pH) is the main hurdle against spoilage bacteria which favors better flavor development. The final acidity of a traditionally made salami is low (high pH) and the sourly taste is gone. Some known European sausages are French saucisson, Spanish chorizo, and Italian salami. These are slow-fermented sausages with nitrate addition and moderate drying temperatures. North European sausages such as German or Hungarian salamis are made faster, with nitrite addition and are usually smoked. Fermented sausages can be divided into two groups: 1. Sliceable raw sausages (Salami, Summer Sausage, Pepperoni) 2. Spreadable raw sausages (Teewurst, Mettwurst) OR depending on the manufacturing method:

Fast-fermented Medium-fast-fermented Slow-fermented. These can be smoked or not, or made with mold or without

Depending on the amount of moisture that they contain, they can be grouped as:

moist - 10% weight loss semi-dry - 20% weight loss dry - 30% weight loss

There is also a group of non-fermented cooked salamis that are made in many European countries. This group will cover any sausage that is smoked, cooked and then air-dried for 1-3 weeks at 10-12 C (50-52 F). This reduces Aw (water activity) to about 0.92 which makes the product shelf stable without refrigeration. The fact that a raw sausage is safe to consume may sound questionable to some but we have been eating them for thousands of years and as far as we follow the rules of meat science we have nothing to be afraid of.

The Magic Behind Fermented Sausages - It's All About Bacteria

Making fermented sausages is a combination of the art of the sausage maker and unseen magic performed by bacteria. The friendly bacteria are working together with a sausage maker, but the dangerous ones are trying to wreak havoc. Using his knowledge the sausage maker monitors temperature and humidity, which allows him to control reactions that take place inside the sausage. This game is played for quite a while and at the end a high quality product is created. We all know that meat left at room temperature will spoil in time and that is why it is kept in a refrigerator/freezer. Yet fermented or air dried sausages are not cooked and don't have to be stored under refrigeration. What makes them different? Fermented sausages and air dried meats are at an extra risk as in many cases they are not subject to cooking/refrigerating process. In a freshly filled with meat casing, bacteria seem to hold all advantages: temperatures that favor their growth, moisture, food (sugar), oxygen, we have to come up with some radical solutions otherwise we might lose the battle. Fortunately, meat science is on our side and what was a secretive art for many years is being revealed and made accessible to everybody today. Even so, manufacture of fermented products is still a combination of an art and technology. A meat processing facility develops its own microbiological flora in which bacteria live all over the establishment (walls, ceilings, machinery, tools etc). Each place will have its own peculiar flora and some places will contain more bacteria which is needed for making fermented sausages. Keep in mind that in the past meat facilities were not sanitized so scrupulously as the ones of today. These bacteria are just waiting to jump on a new piece of meat and start working in. All they need is a bit of food: moisture (meat is 75% water), oxygen (the air) and sugar (meat contains sugar). Sugar has been introduced into sausage recipes for hundreds of years as somehow we have always known that it is needed. Some places in Italy hadinside flora which was beneficial to produce a product of a great quality and they suddenly developed a name for making wonderful meat products. They were probably not better sausage makers than their

counterparts working in different locations. Most likely they were lucky to have their shop located in their area which was blessed by mother nature for making fermented sausages. They did not have much clue to what was happening, this empirical knowledge was passed from father to son but it worked like magic. Fermented sausages are made by use of "beneficial or friendly" bacteria that we manipulate to our advantage and they become microscopic laborers performing tasks that we can not do ourselves. They are the tiny soldiers and we are the command center and if we manage this army well they become a formidable force. All this bacteria talk should not alarm anybody as we are surrounded with fermented foods: sour bread, wine, yogurt, sourkraut, cheeses, etc. Some of the most dangerous bacteria (E.coli and Listeria monocytongenes) live in our digestive tract and help us to digest foods, other (Staph.aureus) are present in our skin, mouth and nose. The most toxic poison known to men is in soil (Clostridium botulinum) and we touch those spores every time when working the garden, yet we are perfecly fine. Dangerous bacteria are present in meat and we eat them every time when undercooked meat is served and that does not seem to affect us either. This is due tothe small number of bacteria present and if their number were higher our immune system would not be able to fight them off. In regards to sausage making we could divide bacteria as: Spoilage These bacteria cause food to deteriorate and develop unpleasant odors, tastes and textures. These one-celled microorganisms can cause fruits and vegetables to get mushy or slimy, or meat to develop a bad odor. Most people would not choose to eat spoiled food. However, if they did, they probably would not get sick. Dangerous These are known as pathogenic bacteria and they cause illness. They grow rapidly in the "Danger Zone" - the temperatures between 40 and 140 F (4-60 C) - and do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of food. Food that is left too long at unsafe temperatures could be dangerous to eat, but smell and look just fine. E.coli 0157:H7 (Most illness has been associated with eating undercooked, contaminated ground beef), Campylobacter (Most cases of illness are associated with handling raw poultry or eating raw or undercooked poultry meat), and Salmonella (Salmonella is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces. They are often of animal origin, such as beef, poultry, milk or eggs. Chicken meat is known to contain more Salmonellathan other meats. Staph.aureus is hard to control and to inhibit its growth Aw must be lower than 0.89 and pH below 5.2. Cl.botulinum, very toxic and heat resistant, likes moisture but hates oxygen.

Beneficial These bacteria can be managed to our advantage to produce fermented sausage. They are naturally occuring in meat and are responsible for:

converting nitrate to nitrite: (Micrococcus, Staph.xylosus, Staph.carnosus) improving flavor:(Micrococcus) increasing acidity (lowering pH) by producing lactic acid through sugar metabolism: (Pediococcus and Lactobactillus) mold growth: (Penicilliumnalgiovense) which is highly desired in some Italian salamis. To produce a quality safe product it is necessary to:

prevent the growth of spoilage bacteria prevent the growth of dangerous bacteria create favorable conditions for the growth of beneficial bacteria

To eliminate the risk of bacteria growth and to prevent meat spoilage we employ the following steps, also known as "hurdles": 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. using meats with a low bacteria count curing - adding salt and sodium nitrite/nitrate lowering pH of the meat to 5.2 lowering Aw (water activity) by drying to 0.89 smoking

Meat selection
Going into details on selecting meats according to their pH or using terms like PSE, GFD or MDM meats is beyond the scope of these pages and will make them confusing to read. What we want to stress is that meat must be perfectly fresh with the lowest count of bacteria possible. Commercial producers try to keep this number between 100 and 1000 per gram of meat but a home based sausage maker has to make sure that:

meat is very fresh and kept cold facilities and tools are very clean working temperatures are as low as possible

If the above conditions are not met bacteria will multiply and will compete for food with starter cultures inhibiting the growth. As a result, the product will fault, especially the

slow-fermented salami. It makes little difference to what kind of meat is used and salamis can be made from pork, beef, venison, buffalo, horse and other meats. If chicken is used the thigh (dark meat) will be the better choice than a breast (light meat). Chicken breast being light meat contain little myoglobin that reacts with nitrite to produce curing color and the finished sausage will have a very light pink color unless chicken meat will be mixed with darker meats. Keep in mind that chicken meat has higher chances to be infected with Salmonella than other types of meat. Also remember that raw pork or venison meat may be infected with trichinosis so please read the following link to be safe: trichinae Typical values of meats selected for commercial production are: pork: pH-<5.9-6.0, beef: pH-<5.8 and Aw- 0.98 - 0.99

The application of salt and nitrite is actually our first line of defense against the growth of spoilage bacteria as in many cases (home production) there is very little we can do about a selected meat's bacteria count except making sure that the meat is fresh. As the sausage slowly dries out it loses moisture but not the original amount of salt which remains inside. As a result, in time the sausage becomes much saltier to bacteria. In about 3-6 days the Aw drops to about 0.95 and the sausage is microbiologically more stable as some pathogenic bacteria (for example Salmonella) stop multiplying now. Using a combination of different hurdles is more effective that relaying on one method only. For example the first hurdle is an application of salt and sodium nitrite which eliminates some of the microbiological spoilage. This will not be enough to produce a stable sausage if we don't follow up with addidional hurdles such as lowering pH (increasing acidity) and then lowering water activity Aw (eliminating moisture by drying). Salt. In the right part of the table below it can be seen that most bacteria can tolerate water activity levels (Aw) up to 0.92. For example Clostridium botulinum (food poisoning) bacteria are active all the way down to 0.93 Aw. The table on the left below depicts that to bring water activity level down to 0.93 level about 10 % salt solution is needed. We will have to add 100 g of salt to 1 kg of meat to be sure that Clostridium growth will be inhibited. But any salt level above 3 % will make meat unpalatable to most people so salting alone will not cut it. Additional hurdles such as lowering water activity and lowering of pH (increasing acidity) will have to be implemented. Hundreds of years ago heavy salting was commonly used to preserve and to transport fish to different countries but that fish was non-edible in its original state. It had to be soaked in water first to eliminate an excess salt and only then it would be cooked. The more salt applied to meat the stronger fence is created against bacteria and some compromise has to be made as

the salt plays a very important role preventing bacteria growth, especially in the first stages of a process.

pH - Accidity
Foods with a low pH value (high acidity) develop resistance against microbiological spoilage.Pickles, sourkraut, eggs, pig feet, anything submerged in vinegar will have a long shelf life. Even ordinary meat jelly (headcheese) will last longer if some vinegar is added and this type of headcheese is known as "souse". Bacteria hate acidic foods and this fact plays an important role in the production and stabilization of fermented sausages. Ideally the pH value of meat to be used for making fermented products should be below 5.8.

Pork Back fat Emulsified pork skins Beef

5.9 - 6.0 6.2 - 7.0 7.3 - 7.8 5.8

Sugar, Glucono-lactone (GDL) and Citric Acid are important additives in the manufacturing of fast and medium-fermented salamis as in these sausages pH reduction (increasing acicity) is the main hurdle against bacteria growth. In slowfermented sausages which are dried for a much longer time, lowering moisture (Aw) is the main hurdle employed to inhibit bacteria growth. Glucono-delta-lactone is manufactured by microbial fermentation of pure glucose to gluconic acid but is also produced by the fermentation of glucose derived from rice. It is

soluble in water and is non-toxic and completely metabolized in our bodies. It can be found in honey, fruit juices, wine and many fermented products. It is a natural food acid (it has roughly a third of the sourness of citric acid) and it contributes to the tangy flavor of various foods. Since it lowers the pH it also helps preserve the food from deterioration by enzymes and microorganisms. It is metabolized to glucose; one gram of GDL is equivalent to one gram of sugar. Glucono-Delta-Lactone is often used to make cottage cheese, Tofu, bakery products and fermented sausages. About 1 g (0.1%) of GDL per 1 kg of meat lowers pH of meat by 0.1 pH. It shall be noted that the addition of sugar already lowers the pH of the meat and adding GDL will lower the pH even more. As it is a natural acid, adding more than 10 g may cause a bitter and sour flavor. Citric acid is a weak organic acid found in citrus fruits. It is a natural preservative and is used to add an acidic (sour) taste to foods, soft drinks and wine. In lemons and limes it can account for as much as 8 % of the dry weight of the fruit. Citric acid is mentioned in these pages more for its informational value in lowering pH than by its practical usefulness in making fermented sausages. It acts about three times faster than GDL(1 g of citric acid added to 1 kg of meat lowers ph of meat by about 0.3 units) and in higher doses it will contribute to a sour taste. Its usefulness is therefore strictly limited. Sugar is mainly added to provide food for starter cultures. The pH drop in sausage depends on the type and amount of sugar utilized. Introduction of more sugar generally leads to lower pH and stronger acidification.What is notable is that lactic bacteria process different sugars differently. Only dextrose (glucose) can be fermented directly into lactic acid and by all lactic bacteria. Other sugars molecular structure must be broken down until monosaccharides are produced and this takes time and some lactic bacteria are more effective than others. Sugar introduction also helps to offset the sourly and tangy flavor of fastand medium-fermented sausages and acts as a minor hurdle in lowering water activity. The types of sugar which may be used in making fermented sausages are listed in order of their importance on producing lactic acid by lactic acid bacteria:

glucose - "dextrose" is glucose sugar refined from corn starch which is approximately 70% as sweet as sucrose but it has an advantage of being directly fermented into lactic acid and is the fasted acting sugar for lowering pH. As lowering pH is the main hurdle against bacteria growth in fast-fermented sausages, dextrose is obviously the sugar of choice. It can be easily obtained

from all sausage equipment and supplies companies. sucrose - common sugar (also colledsaccharose) made from sugar cane and sugar beets but also appears in fruit, honey, sugar maple and in many other

sources. It is the second fastest acting sugar.It can be used with GDL in mediumfermented sausages. In slow-fermented sausages common sugar should be chosen as it has been used for hundreds of years. There is no need to lower fast pH and sugar contributes better to a strong curing color and better flavor. maltose - malt sugar is made from germinating cereals such as barley, is an important part of the brewing process. It's added mainly to offset sour flavor and to lower water activity. actose - also referred to as milk sugar is found most notably in milk. Lactose makes up around 2-8% of milk (by weight). Maltose and lactose are less important as primary fermenting sugars but may be used in combinations with common sugar to bring extra flavor.

About 1 g (0.1%) of dextrose per 1 kg of meat lowers pH of meat by 0.1 pH. This means that 10 g of dextrose added to meat with initial pH value of 5.9 will lower pH by one full unit to 4.9. Sugar levels of 0.5% - 0.7% are usually added for reducing pH levels to just under 5.0. When using acidification as a main safety hurdle, salami is microbiologically stable when pH is 5.2 or lowerand this normally requires about 48 hrs fermentation time for fast-fermented product and 72 - 96 hours for medium-fermented type. In slowfermented salami pH does not drop lower than 5.5 but the sausage is microbiologically stable due to its low moisture level (prolonged drying).

Aw - Water Activity
Water activity is an indication of how tightly water is "bound" inside of a product. It does not say how much water is there, but how much is available to support the growth of bacteria, yeasts or molds (fungi). Adding salt or sugar "binds" some of this free water inside of the product and lowers the amount of available water to bacteria which compete very poorly with salt. Molds are very good competitors for free water. We could make Aw lower by lowering the temperature of the product but that is not practical as the temperatures for making fermented sausages are well defined. A much better solution is to lower water activity by drying.

Air drying is the process employed in lowering water activity (moisture removal) and has to be properly controlled otherwise it may lead to a number of defects including a total loss of product. During the long drying process of salami, the original hurdles lose some of their original strength as the nitrite is depleted and the number of lactic-acid bacteria decreases and the pH increases. This is offset by drying which lowers water activity by removing moisture and the sausage becomes more stable in time.

When using drying as a main safety hurdle, salami is microbiologically stable when Aw is 0.89 or lower. The drying chamber should not be overloaded as a uniform air draft is needed for proper drying and mold prevention.

Below certain Aw levels, microbes can not grow. USDA guidelines state: "A potentially hazardous food does not include . . . a food with a WATER ACTIVITY value of 0.85 or less."

Common spoilage organisms and their Aw limits for growth

Microbial Group Example Normal bacteria Salmonella species, Escherichia coli Clostridium botulinum Staph. aureus Normal yeast Normal molds Torulopsis species Aspergillusflavus


Products Affected

0.95- Fresh meat, milk 0.93 Animal intestinal tracts, unchlorinated water 0.91 Meat, soil 0.89 Skin, red meats, poultry 0.88 Fruit juice concentrate 0.80 Jams, jellies 0.75 Honey 0.65 Flour

Halophilic bacteria Wallemiasebi Xerophilicmolds Aspergillusechimulatas

Osmophilic yeast

Saccharomyces bisporus 0.60 Dried fruits

Smoking may or may not be utilized in a production of fermented sausages. It has been used in countries in Northern Europe where due to colder climate and shorter seasons, the drying conditions were less favorable than in Spain or Italy. Smoking imparts a different flavor, has some effect of fighting bacteria, especially on the surface of the product and thus prevents growth of molds on fermented sausages. Mold is desired on some traditionally made Italian salamis and obviously smoking is not deployed. Most consumers prefer sausages without mold on the surface and smoking is an old method to prevent it. As mold can already grow in the first days of fermentation it is recommended to smoke sausages at the early stage of production. In order not to unbalance ongoing fermentation, the temperature of the smoke should approximate the temperature of the fermentation chamber which in raw slow fermented sausages falls into 18-22 C, (66-72 F) range. For the same reason cold smoking will be applied to semi-dry sausages which will be fermented but not cooked.

Cold smoking is performed with a thin smoke, 70-80% humidity, and good air ventilation to remove excess moisture. Cold smoking is drying with smoke and should be interrupted by drying periods without smoke. Often recipes call for 3-4 days of cold smoking, but that does not mean that the smoking is continuous. Heavy continuous smoke application for such a long period may impart a bitter taste to the product. All raw fermented sausages which are not subject to heat treatment and which are smoked, must be smoked with cold smoke. Warm smoking (25-50 C, 77-122 F) will be applied to semi-dry sausages which will be cooked. If sausages are fully cooked (68-71 C, 154-160 F), the hot smoke (60-80 C, 140-176 F) may be administered. Smoke may be applied late during the fermentation

stage (preferably after) when the surface of the sausage is dry. If mold appears before smoking was performed, or shortly after, the sausage should be rinsed and wiped off and then smoke may be applied again. Applying smoke for about 4 hours after fermentation prevents mold growth but only for some time. Fermented sausages which will be cooked may be smoked with warmer smoke, which will increase the core temperature of the sausage and will shorten the cooking process. If mold reappears later, the sausage is wiped off and the smoke is reapplied again. Applying heavy smoke early during the fermentation stage is not the best idea as smoke contains many ingredients (phenols, carbonyls, acids etc.) which may impede reactions between meat and beneficial bacteria, especially in the surface area. After hot smoking/cooking, shower sausages with hot water (removes grease and soot), then with cold water and then transfer them to storage. At home, the sausages are normally smoked/cooked outside and they are cold showered only. This prevents them from shrivelling and shortens the meats exposure to high temperatures. Most semi-dry sausages are smoked, many with cold smoke. Traditionally made slow fermented sausages (Hungarian salami) are cold smoked. In the past cold smoking was firstly a preservation step with a benefit of better flavor. Today, cold smoking is seldom performed as a preservation step due to the widespread use of refrigeration. Some foods, notably cold smoked salmon (lox) are still made with cold smoke but the majority of regular sausages are hot smoked today. Think of cold smoke as a part of the drying/fermentation cycle and not as the flavoring step. If the temperature of the smoke is close to the fermentation temperature, there is very little difference between the two. The sausage will still ferment and the drying will continue and the extra benefit is the prevention of mold that would normally accumulate on the surface. Cold smoking is performed with a dry, thin smoke. If we applied heavy smoke for a long time, that would definitely inhibit the growth of color and flavor forming bacteria which are so important for the development of flavor in slow-fermented sausages. As drying continues for a long time and cold smoking is a part of it, it makes little difference whether cold smoke is interrupted and then re-applied again. In traditional smokehouses the fire was started in the morning and burning logs produced smoke until late night hours until the fire died out. Then it was re-ignited again and the smoke continued. The drying temperature falls into 15-18 C (59-64 F) range and cold smoke (< 22 C, 72 F) fits nicely into this range. To sum it up, the length of cold smoking is loosely defined, but the upper temperature should remain below 22 C (72 F). Unfortunately, this rule puts some restraints on making slow-fermented sausages in hot climates for most of the year, when using an outside smokehouse. You cant produce cooler smoke than the ambient temperature around the smokehouse, unless some cooling methods are devised. By the same token, people living in cooler climates can make those sausages for most of the year. Semi-dry

sausages, which are of fast-fermented type, are fermented at higher temperatures. These sausages can be smoked with warmer smoke as they are subsequently cooked.

Manufacturing Technology
The first manufacturing steps such as meat selection, grinding, mixing and stuffing are common to all sausages whether fresh, smoked or fermented types. The main difference is that no water should be added to meat during processing as water is the necessary nutrient for bacteria. The technology of making dry sausages relies on removal of water and not on bringing water in. After being stuffed with meat the fermented sausages are submitted to:

conditioning (optional) fermenting drying storing

Conditioning is an optional step for a home sausage maker and he has to exercise his own judgement. In commercial plants the process of grinding, mixing and stuffing salami is undertaken at a low temperature (0 C, 32 F) and as the cold sausage is placed in a warmer (fermenting/drying) room, not needed condensation will appear on the surface of the sausage. The sausage must remain there for 1-6 hours (depending on its diameter) at low humidity (no air draft) until the moisture evaporates. Then we can start the fermentation process. If the sausage casing is dry there is no need for conditioning. It should also be very carefully monitored (or even eliminated) in small diameter casings which can dry out too quickly on the surface. This will eliminate moisture (food) for lactic bacteria and they will not reduce pH within the outer layers. As a result the sliced sausage will have a different color in its outer layer (see effects of too fast drying above). Fermentation refers to the production of lactic acid and to produce consistent quality product parameters such as temperature, humidity and air flow should be carefully monitored. The humidity in a drying room is increased to about 92-95 % and the temperature is increased to 18 -26 C, (66 -78F). The temperature range depends on the type of the sausage produced (fast, medium or slow-fermented) and the type of the starter culture used. The air flow is kept about 0.8 m/sec. Commercial plants monitor Aw (water activity) of the sausage and readjust the correspondingly humidity level of the drying chamber. There is normally a difference of less than 5% between moisture level of the sausage and relative humidity of the room, the latter figure being lower. This

means if the Aw of the sausage is 0.95, the humidity is set at 90%. Then when Aw drops to 0.90, the humidity drops to 85% and so on. When the fermentation starts the main hurdles against microbiological spoilage of the sausage are the low bacteria count of the meat, the presence of nitrite and salt. Keep in mind that in time the sausage will be losing more and more moisture but the salt remains inside and the percentage of salt in a finished sausage will be higher. In about 48 hours lactic bacteria metabolize enough sugar to produce a sufficient amount of lactic acid to drop pH (increase acidity) of the sausage and this stabilizes the sausage making it more resistant to spoilage. Lactic acid producing bacteria widely used in starter cultures are:

Lactobacillus: Lb.sakei, Lb.plantarum, Lb.farcimis, Lb.curvatus Pediococcus: Pediococcuspentosaceus, Pediococcusacidilactici

They all have different recommended growth temperatures and can be optimized for making fast or slow-fermented sausages. In the USA fast fermented sausages dominate the market and Pediococcusacidilactici is widely used as it allows fermentation at temperatures as high as 45 C (114 F). Fermentation Temperatures of Commercial Lactic Acid Bacteria Temperature range in C 22 - 37 22 - 32 25 - 35 21 - 32 25 - 45 20 - 37

Name Lactobacillus curvatus Lactobacillus farciminis Lactobacillus plantarum Lactobacillus sakei Pediococcusacidilactici Pediococcuspentosaceus

Source: Chr. Hansen


Drying is a very important process especially in the initial stages of production. One may say why not to dry a sausage very fast which will remove moisture and be done with all this pH stuff and bacteria. Well, there are basically two reasons: 1. The outside layer of the sausage must not be hardened as it may prevent removal of the remaining moisture. It may effect the curing of the outside layer which will become visible when slicing the sausage (see the drawings below). 2. Naturally existing in meat, bacteria and/or introduced starter cultures need moisture and some time before they can metabolize sugar and produce lactic acid which lowers pH. They are not going to multiply in one second and start heavy production of acid. Similar to yeasts used to ferment wine, these bacteria need some time to accomodate themselves in this new environment, they keep on eating sugar and only then comes a moment when they say OK, let's do some serious work. Even if we could rapidly dry out the sausage without hardening its surface this will inhibit beneficial bacteria from doing their work by removing moisture which they need. The only possibility will be to lower pH usingchemical reactions such as adding GDL or citric acid. This method does not depend on bacteria but unfortunatelly it will add so much acidity that the product will not be edible. Moisture removal during fermentation (it is a part of drying) must proceed slowly Water activity (Aw) can be lowered faster in a sausage which contains more fat than a leaner sausage. Fat contains only about 10% water and a fatter sausage having proportionally less meat also contains less water. It will dry out faster. Drying basically starts already in the fermentation stage and the humidity is kept at a high level of about 92%. Air flow is quite fast (0.8 m/sec) to permit fast moisture removal but the high humidity level moisturizes the surface of the casing preventing it from hardening. After about 48 hours the fermentation stage ends but the drying continues to remove more moisture from the sausage. As the Aw has dropped lower the humidity level is decreased to about 0.85-90%. Maintaining previous fast air flow may harden the surface of the casing so the air speed is decreased to about 0.5 m/sec (1.8 miles/per hour-slow walk). The temperature is lowered to create less favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria. At this time the medium-fermented sausage will be finished. Slow-fermented sausages require additional drying time and the humidity is lowered again just to be a few percents lower than the moisture content of a sausage and that falls into 75-80% range. Air flow is decreased again to about 1 ft/sec. The temperature is lowered to 15 C (60 F) to create less favorable conditions for the growth of bacteria. At

those conditions the sausage will remain in a drying chamber for an additional 4-8 weeks, depending on the diameter of the casing. Sausage is microbiologically stable and can remain at the above settings for a very long time. It should be kept in a dark room which will prevent color change and fat rancidity. There is very little need for the air flow now and it can be kept to the minimum. Some air flow is welcome as it inhibits formation of mold. The temperature is set to about 10-15 C (50-60 F). The humidity should remain at about 75% as lower humidity will increasing drying and the sausage will lose more of its weight. Much higher humidity levels may create favorable conditions for development of mold. If any mold develops it can be easily wiped off with a solution of water and vinegar. The sausage can also be cold smoked for a few hours which will inhibit the growth of a new mold. At these temperatures and humidity levels, the sausage has an almost indefinite shelf life. Depending on the method of manufacture (drying time), diameter of a casing and the content of fat in a sausage mass, fermented sausages lose from 5 - 40% of its original weight.

Jumbo Display Thermo-Hygrometer that measures temperature and humidity at the same time made by DeltaTRAK

Air speed is a factor that helps remove moisture and stale air, and of course it influences drying. Sausages will dry faster at higher temperatures, but in order to prevent the growth of bacteria, drying must be performed at lower levels, generally between 15-12 C (59-53 F). The speed of drying does not remain constant, but changes throughout the process: it is the fastest during the beginning of fermentation, then it slows down to a trickle. At the beginning of fermentation humidity is very high due to the high moisture content of the sausage. When starter cultures are used the temperature is at the highest during fermentationwhich speeds up moisture escape from the sausage. The surface of the sausage contains a lot of moisture and it must be constantly removed otherwise slime might appear. If the sausages are soaking wet during fermentation, the humidity should be lowered. At the beginning of fermentation the fastest air speed is applied, about 0.8 - 1.0 m/sec. The speed of 3.6 km/h (2.2 mile/hour) corresponds to the speed of 1 meter/second. Ideally, the amount of removed moisture should equal the amount of moisture moving to the surface.

Fermentation is performed at high humidity (92-95%) to prevent case hardening. If the humidity were low and the air speed fast, the moisture would evaporate from the surface so fast, that the moisture from the inside of the sausage would not make it to the surface in time. The surface of the casing will harden, creating a barrier to the subsequent drying process. In slow fermented sausages this will create a big problem as the inside of the sausage may never dry out and the product will spoil. As the sausage enters the drying stage, less moisture remains inside and the humidity and air speed are lowered. After about a week the air speed is only about 0.5 m/sec and after another week it drops to 0.1 m/sec (4 inches/sec). It will stay below this value for the duration of the drying. Fast moisture removal is not beneficial in fast-fermented sausages, either. Lactic acid bacteria need water to grow and if we suddenly removed this moisture, they would stop producing lactic acid which would affect fermentation and safety of the product. The technology of making fast fermented sausages relies on pH and not on drying and the air speed control is less crucial as there is little drying. Spreadable sausages. Course ground spreadable sausages are fermented at 95% humidity and have an air speed of about 0.8 m/sec dropping down about 0.1 m/sec every two days. Finely ground spreadable sausages are fermented at about 90% humidity but with a slower air speed. As they contain more fat (it helps with spreadability) there is less water to remove. It is much harder for the moisture to maneuver among fine meat particles on its way to the surface and the distance is longer, too. As a result, less moisture gets to the surface and the air speed of about 0.1 m/sec generally suffices. More on drying can be found here. A typical medium-fermented salami process Process Temp C Conditioning 2025 1825 1822 F 6877 6677 6670 Humidity % < 60 0.960.97 0.940.96 0.950.90 5.8 pH Air speed Time meter/sec 0 0.8 < 6 hours


1. Fermenting



2 - 4 days

2. Drying




5 - 10 days

Note: The speed of 3.6 km/h (2.2 mile/hour) corresponds to the speed of 1 meter/second. Based on parameters in the table above, a medium-fermented salami will lose about 1.0 - 1.5% of its mass daily. Depending on the manufacturing method salamis can be divided into:

Fast-fermented Inexpensive, low quality, shortest shelf life, strong tangy and sour taste. Production time: 5-7 days The technology of this product is based on a fast drop of pH(below 5.0 in just 2 days) to make it stable. The pH of a finished sausage is about 4.6-4.8 maki ng it safe. Water activity (Aw) is of a lesser hurdle as there is not enough time to remove enough moisture by controlled drying. Aw of a finished sausage is about 0.92. Lowering pH is accomplished by the addition of fast

Medium-fermented Better quality, less sour and generally better salami flavor than that of a fast-fermented sausage. Production time:4-6 weeks The technology of this product is based on a moderate drop of pH (below 5.0 in about 4 days) and is about 4.8 in a finished sausage. The production time is long enough to dry out enough moisture so that water activity (Aw) level of 0.93 is achieved making it resistant againstSalmonella and Staph.aure us. The flavor of the finished product is due to acidification, addition of spices and to a smaller extent (insufficient drying time) to some natural processes (proteolysis and lipolysis) within a sausage. Temperatures:Temperatures of22 -25 C, ( 70 -77 F) are applied during the initial fermentation stages and at those temperatures fast-acting bacteria cultures perform a bit slower. Sodium nitrite (Cure #1) is added

Slow-fermented High quality, traditionally made salami with a superior salami flavor. They are never fully acidifed and that is why there is little of a sour and tangy flavor so pronounced in a fast fermented types. Salamis develop a desired, classical salami flavor, somewhat cheese and moldy, due to a long drying period which permits for many of the natural biochemical reactions to take place inside of the meat. Production time: 6 weeks or longer for a 45 mm casing (a very large diameter salami can take 5, 8 months or even a year to dry). The technology of this product is based on the drying process(lowering Awwater activity) and on very slow drop in pH (almost never dropping to 5.2) which will later reverse (increase) as the drying progresses. Slow drop in pH gives Micrococcus bacte

acting sugar (dextrose) and/or GDL (glucono-lactone) plus fastacting starter cultures. The flavor is greatly influenced by the acidification of the sausage and spices employed. Temperatures: Initi al fermentation temperatures are quite high 26 -30 C, (78 -86 F) to allow rapid growth of fast-acting starter cultures. Some very fast cultured are targeted for fermentation temperatures up to 45 C (113 F). Sodium nitrite (Cure 1) is used as the first hurdle against bacteria spoilage. Nitrate is not used as there is not enough time for it to release nitrite.

being the first hurdle against bacteria spoilage. Nitrate is not needed as the production times are still relatively short.

ria sufficient time to react with nitrate. As a result nitrate releases nitrite which is necessary for:

control of Cl.botulinum proper color of the sausage improved flavor

The Aw of a finished sausage is between 0.82-0.88and the pH of a finished sausage is about 5.3-6.0 (the initial pH value of the meat used for processing is about 5.8). Although this final pH value might seem to be high the sausage is microbiologically very stable due to its low moisture content (low Aw). Temperatures: Temperature s of 16 -20 C, (62 -68 F) are applied during fermentation stage. Sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite and nitrate (Cure #2)are added.

Bactoferm HLP Bactoferm HLP - fast culture targeted for fermentation temperatures of 90 -115 F, 3045 C. Use dextrose.

Bactoferm F-RM-52 Bactoferm F-RM-52 -medium fast culture targeted for fermentation temperatures of 2232 C (70 -90 F) Use dextrose.

Bactoferm T-SPX Bactoferm T-SPX - slow culture for making traditional sausages and targeted for temperatures not higher than 24 C (76 F). Use sugar.

Bactoferm F-LC

Bactoferm F-LC

Bactoferm F-LC - meat culture with bioprotective properties for production of fast or medium-fast fermented sausages where a higher count of L.monocytogenes bacteria may be suspected.Recommended fermentation temperature is 20 -24 C (68 -75 F) for at least 48 hours. Use dextrose as this culture ferments sugar slowly.

Once the temperature drops below 25 C (77 F) the cold smoke can be applied which contributes positively to the flavor and inhibits mold growth. No more drying is needed and the sausage can be sold. Mold is usually applied after 2-3 days by spraying or dipping sausages in a mold solution. Salamis which are produced without mold on its surface can be cold smoked after 48 hours which is basically drying with a thin smoke.

Above listed is a partial only list of starter cultures made by the Danish Company "Chr. Hansen." They are available from the Sausage Maker and other distributors..

Higher temperatures speed up bacteria growth which results in:

faster pH drop due to increased lactic acid production faster development of strong curing color

faster rancidity of fat which is an unwelcome scenario especially in slowfermented products that are stored for long time

Starter Cultures
In the past fermented sausages were made by using natural flora (bacteria) of the establishment. Which is fine even today for a home based sausagemaker or a small plant. A commercial producer can not relay on mother nature to produced a constant quality product and he has to eliminate any possible risks that may come up. He has to control parameters pH of meat material, sausage pH, water activity Aw, temperature, air speed and bacteria. For a meat plant making a thousand pounds of sausages a day it is out of the question to rely on natural bacteria to start the fermentation process and this is where starter cultures come into play. This is similar to the wine making process:

originally wine was made by leaving fruit with water to start fermenting then we started to add wine yeasts which were produced in tightly controlled laboratory conditions. The wine was being fermented using its own fruit yeasts plus added starter cultures (wine fermenting yeasts) commercial wine makers do not want ANY yeasts that reside in fruit as that will not produce a constant quality product. In the first stage of a production process a chemical is introduced that will kill all yeasts present in the fruit and then after a day commercially produced wine fermenting yeasts are introduced into fruit and water.

In meats we don't introduced chemicals to kill bacteria but we have these options:

use meats with the initial bacteria count of 100-1000 per gram of meat use laboratory grown starter cultures

There are many manufacturers of starter cultures that are used in Europe and in the USA and we are going to list products made by the Danish manufacturer "Chr. Hansen" as their products are easily obtained from American distributors of sausage making equipment and supplies. Some typical starter cultures are listed in the table below. In addition to starter cultures whose main purpose is production of lactic acid, there are two cultures that are very useful: Bactoferm F-LC M-EK-4 Bactoferm

Meat culture with bioprotective properties for production of fermented sausages with short production type where a higher count of L.monocytogenes bacteria may be suspected.Bactoferm F-LC has the ability to controllisteria at the same time as it performs as a classical starter culture for fermented sausages. The culture produces pediocin and bavaricin(kind of "antibiotics") and that keepsL.monocytogenes at safe levels. Recommended fermentation temperature is 20 -24 C (68 -75F) for at least 48 hours. Use dextrose as this culture ferments sugar slowly.

Meat culture for production of molded dried sausages with a white/cream colored appearance. M-EK-4 is particularly recommended for the production of traditional sausages dried at low temperatures and/or low humidity. MEK-4 suppresses the growth of undesirable organisms such as indigenous molds, yeasts and bacteria. The culture has a positive effect on the drying process by preventing the emergence of a dry rim. Furthermore, the mold degrades lactic acid during maturation resulting in a pH increase and a less sourish flavour.

Salamis with a surface mold

In many European countries (France, Italy and others) it is a normal occurence to see a salami with a white surface mold. This is how it has been made for hundreds of years, the mold is intentional and it contributes to the wonderful flavor of the sausage. It also protects the sausage from the effects of light and oxygen which helps to preserve color and slows down rancidity of fat. Mold covered salamis are not smoked as the smoke application will prevent molds from growing on the surface. Cold smoking sausages (below 25 C, 78 F after fermentation (after around 48 hours) will prevent mold from growing on its surface.Mold can be removed by wiping it off with a rag soaked in vinegar solution. The color of the mold should be white or off-white and not yellow, green, or black. As mold in time can grow to a considerable length it is brushed off before sale. Sausages that are made nowadays are dipped into a mold solution or have a mold solution sprayed on the surface. The factory grown molds such as the M-EK-4 Bactoferm described in table above are easily obtainable which permits the growth of a constant quality intentional mold.

Optimal conditions for the growth of mold are: warm temperatures, no air draft and over 75% humidity. To prevent growth of mold the commercial producers dip the sausage after filling for a few seconds into 10% solution of potassium sorbate.

Yeast and molds grow much slower than bacteria in fermented meats and sausages and they develop later in a ripening process. They utilize some of the lactic acid that was created during the fermentation stage thus increasing pH (lowering acidity) what as a result improves flavor in a slower fermented product. They don't seem to be affected by a pH drop in the fermentation stage and will grow in a vast range of temperatures (8 -25 C, 46 -78 F) as long as there is high humidity in a chamber. To ensure fast growth at the begining temperatures higher than 20 C (68 F) and humidity over 90% is required.

Yeast - Debaromyces Mold - Penicillium

Chr. Hansen produces mold starter cultures with Penicilliumnalgoviense which permits to grow white uniform mold on the surface of the product.

Salami Flavor
The flavor of salami is largely dictated by the manufacturing method (fast, medium or slow-fermented). In fast-fermented products the economics play the major role and the product must be made fast and cheap. There is little reason to produce high quality salami or pepperoni that will end up as a pizza topping. Most super market sold salamis are fast-fermented sausages. A fast fermented product is based on the rapid drop of pH (increasing acidity) and that inevitably leaves a sour and tangy acidic flavor. Spices come to play an important role as their part is to offset this sourness. Applying smoke will add in bringing a new flavor. In slow-fermented traditionally made salami the flavor is the result of many microbiological reactions that take place in many months of its production. Lactic bacteria process sugar much slower than dextrose which leads to a slow pH drop. Most of sugar is converted into lactic acid but as temperatures drop so does the activity of bacteria which leads to a very slow pH drop. As a result complex biological reactions that are taking place with remaining sugar create a different salami flavor. Spices play a lesser role as spices lose their flavor in time anyhow. There is no sourly flavor as in slow-fermented products pH is known to increase (less acidity) to quite a high value (6.0) in time. The flavor is kind of cheesy, very typical of a traditionally made product. Salamis with mold will have distinctive cheesy-moldyflavor. Bacteria strains such as Staphylococcus and Kocuria have been known to be the main mechanism of producing nitrite from nitrate during the curing process. Meat containing an insufficient number of these bacteria will not cure properly and ultimately the color and the flavor of the product will suffer. In addition the microbiological safety of a

fermented sausage will be at risk as sodium nitrite and salt are the main hurdles against meat spoilage at the beginning of the process. In order for those bacteria to start reacting with nitrate a temperature of 8 C (48 F) is required as at lower temperatures (refrigerator) bacteria stop growing and these strains are no exception. Today most meat products contain sodium nitrite which does not depend on action of Staphylococcus andKocuria bacteria and a cured product is submitted to heat treatment which will guarantee the pink color providing that the meat with enough myoglobin was selected. In case of slow fermented sausages which still use nitrate (Cure #2) Staphylococcus and Kocuria bacteria are needed to force nitrate into releasing nitritewhich in turn will start curing meat. Besides, some nitrite is converted back into the nitrate which need the above bacteria to react upon. Two main species of Staphylococcus that are widely used as starter cultures are: Staph.carnosus andStaph.xylosus.

Making Fermented Sausages at Home

If you have read the sections above you should have a pretty good understanding of the subject by now. At least you know how it should be made according to the rules of the meat science. To make consistent products parameters such as temperature, humidity and air speed must be continuously monitored and adjusted and this is exactly what modern drying chambers do. It is not expected that one will invest into sophisticated drying chamber with temperature, humidity and air flow controls and the technology of making fermented sausages has to be somewhat modified and adapted to the local conditions of the home sausage maker. Fermented sausages were made in Europe for thousands of years without all this technology and they tasted great. Yes they were made, but not during all 12 months of the year. They were made when the temperature and humidity were right and some moderately blowing wind was of immense help, too (Italy, Spain). You can find a window of opportunity for making fermented sausages everywhere: in the summer in Alaska, in the winter in Florida. Ever heard of Summer Sausage? It was not made in summer when temperatures are high and humidity is low. It was made in winter when temperatures were lower and humidity was high, then it dried and was eaten in the summer when harvesting crops. As long as we remember that in the first stages of production the temperatures are higher and the drying chamber must have a bowl of water to create high humidity levels we can produce a fermented sausage. Then as the process progresses the levels of humidity and temperature settings can be lowered. Cures (cure #1 or Cure #2) are an absolute necessity and commonly available and inexpensive starter cultures will guarantee a successful quality product.

The above tables provide all information that is necessary to produce a fermented sausage. At home conditions there are basically two stages:

Fermenting - which lasts about 48 hours Drying - which may be subdivided into: 1. fast-fermented type - 5-7 days 2. medium-fermented type - 4-6 weeks 3. slow-fermented type - 6 weeks or longer

It is impossible to provide exact drying times as these will depend on the size of the casing, percentage of the fat, temperature, humidity, air draft, how full is the drying room and so on. Nevertheless the above figures may be considered to be a rule of the thumb values which provide a point of reference. The rest is trial and error and gaining experience. You will find in many sources advice such as: this is how I like to do it, I have been doing this that way and it worked for me and so on.... without any concrete data to temperatures, humidity or air speed. Instead of writing about what works for us we have decided to create the table which shows how salamis are made commercially in accordance to the rules of meat science. It will be unrealistic to expect that a home based sausage maker will have enough equipment at his disposal to measure all those parameters. Nevertheless he will have a valuable point of reference and he will be able to improvise his production according to what he has and what he can do in order to make his salami making process as close as possible to the recommended data. For instance, temperatures might be too high and humidity too low to dry sausages in summer time in hot climatic zones and in those areas winter time is more suitable. If a drying chamber is available (old refrigerator, a suitable box, etc.) a dish filled with water will provide more humidity. So will a wet rag. Nothing will happen if sausages are removed every 3-4 hours from the drying chamber and showered with water for a few minutes. Water will moisten the surface of the sausage and prevent it from too rapid drying. To control air speed think of a home made smokehouse and its draft control. The air enters with smoke into the smoking chamber, raises up and escapes the chamber through the exit pipe on top which has a draft control. If its fully open you have full draft (full air speed), if it is open 1/4 there is 1/4 of the draft. In a smokehouse the reason for this air draft is to remove moist air that accumulates in the upper parts of the chamber. If it was not removed the sausages will taste rancid and bitter and the color will be very dark due to accumulation of soot and other unburnt particles. In making fermented sausages, evaporating moisture must also be removed otherwise it will create favorable conditions for the growth of mold and we may not need this. If the drying chamber is fully enclosed without any natural draft, one can open the door to it every now and then and allow the moisture to escape. We all know the smell of a refrigerator when we open it after coming from extended vacation and the drying chamber is no exception.

Salami making process

Raw material:

Temperature AirHumidity speed in % in m/sec Time Expected Expected pH Aw

pork pH-5.9 beef pH-5.8 Aw, 0.980.99


20-25 68-77 60-70

1-6 hours 0.5-0.8 2-4 days 0.2-0.5 5-10 days

little change 5.2-5.6 4.8-5.2

little change 0.94-0.96 0.90-0.95

1. Fermenting/drying 18-25 66-77 92-95 2. Drying 18-22 66-72 85-90

When the sausage achieves pH acidity value 5.2 or lower or water activity Aw 0.89, it is considered microbiologically stable and it is safe to consume. This will be a fast fermented product. This does not mean that the process must be stopped. The drying can continue, the sausage will lose more moisture and weight and its shelf life will be longer. 3. Drying 15 60 75-80 0.1-0.2 4-8 weeks 4.6-5.0 0.85-0.92

When the sausage achieves pH acidity value 5.2 or lower or water activity Aw 0.89, it is considered microbiologically stable and it is safe to consume. This will be a medium fermented product. This does not mean that the process must be stopped. The drying can continue, the sausage will lose more moisture and weight and its shelf life will be longer. Storing 10-15 50-60 70-75 0.050.1 will more than increase 8 weeks up to 6.0 0.85-0.89

During the storage period the pH value of the sausage will increase, the sausage will be less acidic and its flavor will be more mellow. Less acidic and more cheesy. Sausage will lose more moisture and if kept at those conditions in a dark room, it will have an almost indefinite shelf life. USDA guidelines state: "A potentially hazardous food does not include . . . a food with a WATER ACTIVITY value of 0.85 or less." Notes:

The speed of 3.6 km/h (2.2 mile/hour) corresponds to the speed of 1 meter/second which is basically a walking speed. Traditionally fermented salami can be made without starter cultures and the fermentation is caused by the bacteria naturally present in meat. It will be only microbiologically stable when Aw reaches 0.89 as its pH value never drops to 5.2 Traditionally fermented sausages very seldom achieve pH level of 5.2 due to smaller amounts of regular sugar (sucrose) used and the absence of starter cultures although some cultures(Bactoferm T-SPX) are designed for slow-fermented products. Fast and medium-fermented salamis achieve lower pH value due to the use of GDL, fast fermenting sugar (dextrose) and fast acting starter cultures.

Making fermented products is a combination of art and sausage making and one will be ill advised to start with a traditionally slow fermented product which is made without any starter cultures. On the other hand slow and medium fermented products are much easier to make and gained experience can lead to production of slow-fermented sausages.


Smearing of the fat (dull knife or warm fat) should be avoided as it will clog the inside passages of the casing and inhibit moisture from escaping which will affect drying. Starter cultures must be kept frozen and should not be mixed with other ingredients until ready to use. Other ingredients such as salt, sugar, spices or others will always contain some moisture which will trigger reaction with starter cultures. Starter cultures are after all bacteria that needs only higher temperature, humidity (moisture) and food (sugar) to start multiplying. To keep humidity at high levels, the sausages may be showered a few times a day for a minute or two. Some air draft should be present even in the final months of drying to prevent mold creation.

By choosing an appropriate starter culture a fast, medium or slow-fermented sausage can be produced, even if the recipe remains the same. It will have different texture and flavor but as long as the rules are followed it will always be a quality sausage. At least 2.5 % salt (25 g salt/1 kg of meat) should be added which will help to lower water activity and inhibit the growth of bacteria. Sodium nitrite/nitrate is added to the majority of salamis to suppress the growth of Salmonella or eliminate the danger of Clostridium botulinum. It also contributes to the development of the desired curing color and curing flavor. A combination of nitrite and nitate (Cure #2) is applied to slow fermenting products as nitrate guarantees a stable color even after drying for some months.

Use of Spices in Fermented Sausages

Throughout history spices were known to possess antibacterial properties and cinnamon, cumin, and thyme were used in the mummification of bodies in ancient Egypt. It is hard to imagine anything that is being cooked in India without curry powder (coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek and other spices). Latest research establishes that spices such as mustard, cinnamon, and cloves are helpful in slowing the growth

of molds, yeast, and bacteria. Garlic and clove are effective against some common strains of E.coli. Spices alone can not be used as a hurdle against meat spoilage as the average amount added to meat is only about 1% (1 g/1 kg). To inhibit bacteria the amounts of spices will have to be very large and that will alter the taste of the sausage. Rosemary and sage have antioxidant properties that can delay the rancidity of fat.Marjoram is a proxidant and will speed up the rancidity of fats.

Traditional Fermented Sausages

Traditionally made fermented sausages are made without starter cultures or sugar and relies entirely on bacteria present in meat and in suroundingmicroflora. Before the starter cultures were discovered there was a practice of adding fermented sausage mass from the previous production to a new sausage mass that will be stuffed into casings. This increased the number of lactic bacteria in a new sausage mass. This questionable practice today was called "backslopping" and is very seldom used as it introduces not only lactic bacteria that are needed for fermentation but also any unwanted bacteria that had developed in the previous sausage mass. Home made traditionally fermented products are made in conditions that take advantage of the weather conditions that are typical for a particular season of the year. There is little one can do to finely tune the temperature or relative humidity levels. Because of that, temperature range and humidity levels are somewhat more relaxed than stringent requirements of comercial drying rooms. It should be noted that if the temperature goes up the relative humidity goes down and vice versa.

Making traditional slow-fermented sausage

Traditionally manufactured sausages are predominantly made from pork, pork fat (back fat) and beef. About 80% lean meat and 20% fat are the most often used proportions and selection of spices plays a secondary role. One of the reasons is that there is not much original spice aroma retained by the sausage is that it is drying for 3 months and hanging in storage for another 6 months. The taste and flavor of the sausage is the result of a long drying period when many naturally occuring reactions take place with meat protein producing a very characteristic and desired flavor. The beginning of the process is very similar to making any kind of a sausage (grinding, mixing, stuffing) the main difference being the utmost attention directed towards the freshness of meat, cool production temperatures, cleanliness of the equipment and personal hygiene. The second part of the process (fermenting, drying, storage) is

completely different and requires basic knowledge of the theory that governs the making of fermented and air dried products. 1. Meat selection. Meat of a healthy animal is clean and has no bacteria. Some bacteria reside on an animal's skin and inside its intestinal tract (casings). Bacteria which is present everywhere are introduced when we start to process meats: every time a knife cuts meat, the blade introduces new bacteria which multiply and slowly migrate towards the inside of the piece. As more cuts are made, the easier it is for bacteria to penetrate the piece. This is why ground meat (small particles) has the shortest shelf life. Bacteria will find their way into the sausage mass that will be stuffed into the casings by the following:

cutting animal carcass - the knife will open the way for them to travel from the skin into the meat. Some of the bacteria which live in the intestinal tract (they are needed to digest food) will also find a way to contaminate meat. During the slaughtering process the carcass is sprayed with water which facilitates the transport of bacteria. mowing meat around on tables, carts and different surfaces. There are bacteria on those surfaces and they will contaminate meat, too. air movement on the premises. human intervention - there is bacteria on our skin, clothes, when we are sneezing etc.

We can not eliminate bacteria altogether but we can restrict their growth to the minimum and this is the most important step during the manufacturing of fermented sausages. It should be noted that placing meat in a refrigerator will not stop the growth of bacteria but merely slow it down. At this temperature (4 C, 40 F) they will double up in number every 12 hours anyhow. If we have 300 bacteria in 1 gram of meat and we keep this meat for one day (24 hrs) in a refrigerator we will have 1200 bacteria at the start of the grinding. But if we have 1000 bacteria in our meat to start with, after 24 hours we will have 4000 bacteria and a commercial producer will not process this meat for fermented sausages but he may use it for making fresh meat products (they will be cooked to 160 F, 72 C before consumption). The example above shows how crucial it is to select fresh meat for making air dried sausages and processing it (grinding, mixing and stuffing) as soon as possible and at the lowest temperatures. If those conditions are not met we may be doomed on day one and we will waste 3 months of our time on producing a low quality sausage or even throw it away.

2. Curing. Adding salt, sugar and nitrate to meats has been practiced for centuries and the general consensus is that curing contributes positively to the color, flavor and shelf life of the product. The curing step has been employed in traditionally made fermented sausages (without cultures) to increase the number of lactic acid, color and flavor forming bacteria. When making fermented sausages the main purpose of curing was twofold:

increase the number of color and flavor forming bacteria (Staphylococcus, Kocuria) increase the number of lactic acid producing bacteria (Lactobacillus, Pediococcus)

The curing step is simply adding extra time for beneficial bacteria to develop. Although the process will be slow due to cold temperatures, the bacteria count will somewhat increase. There is a little problem with this curing procedure as other bacteria such as spoilage and pathogenic (dangerous) will grow as well, and when subsequently introduced to the fermenting chamber they will also multiply. Fortunately, they are little salt tolerant and their growth is slowed down by salt and nitrite. Besides, those millions of bacteria (culture) introduced to meat will start competing for nutrients with beneficial, spoilage and pathogenic bacteria and their growth would be severely restricted. There is no need to perform this curing process when starter cultures are added to meat. We are assured of a huge number of lactic acid bacteria which will start the fermentation process as soon as the stuffed sausage is placed in a warm fermentation room. Placing the sausage mix that includes starter bacteria in a refrigerator makes little sense and will unnecessarily increase the number of spoilage and pathogenic bacteria. Lets speculate that we have 500 lactic acid bacteria in 1 gram of meat to be cured. At 42 F (6 C) they might double under perfect conditions (no salt and no nitrite). That means that after 48 hours we end up with 8,000 bacteria ready to start fermentation. This number pales in comparison with 10 million (10, 000,000)/g bacteria which are introduced with a starter culture. This proves without any doubt the advantage of using starter cultures. As mentioned earlier, the curing step is seldom practiced today as every manufacturer adds starter cultures to the sausage mix to better control the process. Nevertheless, it is still a fine and recommended procedure for making unfermented meats and sausages which will be subsequently smoked and cooked. Original way to cure meat was as follows:

meats were manually cut into 2" cubes, salt, sugar and nitrite were added and thoroughly mixed. If meats are not manually cut but processed through a grinder,

that should be accomplished with a large plate 1/2-3/4". Then meats were packed tightly (to remove air) about 6-8" high, into pans meats were covered with a clean cloth (to prevent air from oxidizing meat which will discolor it and allow gases to escape) pans were placed in a refrigerator for 72 hours

This time could be shortened to 48 hours by grinding meats with a plate as smaller particles are penetrated faster by salt and nitrite. A cured sausage mix has a tendency to firm up and the stuffing process becomes harder to perform especially when using home equipment. For this reason the sausage mix was re-ground with a correct final plate, often 3/16" and mixed with spices. Back fat is salted only as it does not contain myoglobin and there is no need to mix it with nitrite (no color forming will occur). 3. Grinding. All grinders, even manual types, generate heat which warms up the meat. If possible meat processing should be done at temperatures not higher than 12 C (54 F). "Take what you absolutely need" should be applied to all processes and that means that only the necessary amount of meat to complete a particular operation should be taken out of a cooler. Don't take 50 lbs of meat out of a refrigerator when operating a manual grinder which is slow. Take what you need. Make sure that the meat is very cold or even partially frozen as this allows for cleaner cuts and keeps the meat temperature down. Fat should be partially frozen to prevent smearing which affects drying. 4. Mixing. Adding water to facilitate mixing is a common practice when making sausages but in the case of fermented sausages this technique is strongly discouraged. Water removal (lowering water activity Aw) is one of the hurdles employed to safeguard the sausage against microbial spoilage and bringing extra water in beats the purpose of drying. It does not matter much when making a smoked/cooked sausage as this water will evaporate rapidly during smoking and cooking. Besides, cooking will kill all bacteria anyhow. In case of a fermented sausage this water becomes a wonderful playground for bacteria. 5. Stuffing. Natural casings of different diameter or synthetic fibrous casings can be utilized. More attention must be dedicated to the preparation of the casings for the following reasons: The parts of the animal that are most contaminated with bacteria are skin and intestinal tract (casings). Although casings are cleaned, washed and packed in salt nevertheless they still remain contaminated and can contribute to the total contamination (bacteria count) of the sausage. The following steps must be undertaken to minimize the danger of contamination:

visual inspection-casing should be of white color they should be salted and kept in a refrigerator they should be desalted at least one hour before stuffing in cold running drinkable water. Then they can be washed in 2% solution of vinegar which will eliminate the majority of bacteria.

6. Mixing of all ingredients should be done at the temperature between 0 and 5 C (3241 F). Higher temperatures may start fementation too early which will lead to quality problems later (rancid taste, case hardening). In such a case the sausage mass should be cooled down in a refrigerator before proceeding to the stuffing. A typical process: No sugar nor starter cultures added Temperature Humidity Time Notes The temperature must not exceed 22 C, 72 F. Expected pH value 5.2. pH below 5.0 may lead to sourly sausage. Higher temperatures must be avoided. Expected pH around 5.3, expected Aw 0.88.


12-16 C, 54-61 F

82-98 %

3-8 days


12 C, 54 F

75-80 %

2-3 months


12-18 C, 54-66 F

75-80 %

Mediterranean style products (Italy, Spain) produce sausages that are only air-dried Northern style products (Germany, Poland) produce sausages that are smoked and airdried. A thin, cold smoke (no more than 20 C, 68 F), humidity 70-80%, produced from burning hard wood logs is applied after the fermentation stage. Good air draft (ventilation) is needed. If sugar and starter cultures are used use the following parameters for fermentation: temperature: 20 C (68 F)

umidity: 85% time: 3-5 days and monitor pH values Note: some manufacturers don't carry out the fermentation stage at all and the stuffed sausage is directly submitted to the drying process at 6 -15 C (42 -59 F) Staphylococcus aureus starts to grow fast at 15.6C (60 F) and higher. For this reason, sausages made without starter cultures should not exceed this temperature. When cultures are used, lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid and this increases acidity of the meat, inhibits growth of Staph.aureus. This pathogen can survive high salt levels and funtions remarkable well at low moisture level (down to Aw 0.86).Staph.aureus is sensitive to acidity (low pH). 7. Fermentation means increasing the temperature of a stuffed sausage which allows the naturally occuring bacteria in meat to grow and react with the meat. As a rule the higher the temperature, the faster bacteria growth and their energy to react with meat or any other food. For most bacteria the best temperature for growth is around our body temperature (36.6 C, 98.6 F). This temperature is too high for any kind of traditionally made slow-fermented products. Unless a pH meter is used to check the acidity of the sausage, it is hard to predict when fermentation ends and when drying begins. Once pH value reaches 5.2 there is no need to lower it further as it will affect the taste and color of the sausage and at this point there is little need for bacteria to produce more lactic acid and lower pH even more. The flavor of the product will taste sour and the color will suffer too. This may be acceptable for a fast-fermented economy sausage but not for a traditional sausage. Fermenting is the crucial step and proper temperature plays a very important role. At 18-24 C (66-76 F), fermentation normally lasts 1-2 days. At lower temperatures, 1012 C (50-54 F), it will last about 1 week. During fermentation the relative humidity can vary between 75 and 95%. If possible it should be kept at 92-95%. To stop the fermentation process we lower the temperature to 12 C (54 F) and that stops lactic bacteria from fermenting sugars. The remaining sugar will be utilized for the development of flavor and stronger color. To prevent the growth of mold or for this extra flavor after fermentation sausages can be cold smoked (20 C, 68 F) and then air dried. Cold smoking is basically drying meats with smoke.

7. Drying is accomplished at 10-14 C (50-58 F) and will last for 4-12 weeks. If drying temperatures are higher, the drying process may be accomplished in 1-3 weeks. During drying the relative humidity can vary between 70-85%. If possible it should be lowered gradually to around 75%. Time of drying is affected by:

the diameter of the casing (larger casing dries longer) the amount of fat in meat (fatter sausage dries faster as there is no water inside the fat) humidity (lower humidity, faster drying) temperature (higher temperature, faster drying) air speed-faster air draft, faster drying. This parameter is not easy to control at home conditions.

8. Storing. When the sausage reaches water activity Aw 0.89 or lower it is considered microbiologically stable and can be kept at cool room temperatures. Sausages should be kept at 12-18 C (54-56 F) in a dark (to prevent color change and fat rancidity), well ventilated area (to prevent mold growth). The humidity should be about 75% (higher humidity favors the growth of mold, lower humidity will dry out more moisture and decrease the weight of the product). Notes: Ingredients. Only top quality ingredients should be used (fine salt, sugar, nitrite/nitrate, freshly ground spices, etc,) but use of fresh spices (garlic, onion, parsley, oregano, etc) is prohibited. Fresh spices contain moisture and bacteria of unknown nature and may contaminate and spoil the sausage. If starter cultures are used they should be stored at low temperatures according to supplier recommendations. At least 2.5 % salt (25 g salt/1 kg of meat) should be added which will help to lower water activity and inhibit the growth of bacteria. which will help to lower water activity and inhibit the growth of bacteria. If sugar is added, the amount should be based on pH value of the mixed sausage mass (before stuffing). Typical values of meats selected for commercial production are: pork: pH-<5.9-6.0, beef: pH-<5.8. About 2-4% sugar (2-4 g/per 1 kg of meat) are most often added. In a finished sausage the pH of 5.3 and Aw of 0.88 are signs of quality product. Microbiological Control:

keep (if possible) production area at 12 C (51 F) keep meats at 4 C (40 F) or lower take from the refrigeraor just the quantity necessary for a particular operation keep all equipment clean wash hands regularly