5 – MICROBIOLOGY-TECHNOLOGY          The Science Of Meat & Cultures

5 – MICROBIOLOGY-TECHNOLOGY The Science Of Meat & Cultures

Ya say you’re frightened by the latest news on ebola? Well, read on. The magical, microscopic world of Microbiology can be your friend, but if you aren’t careful, it can be your worst enemy.

 

Read. Post! Be merry, for tomorrow you… uh… live long and prosper, if you understand just a smidgen of this stuff. Please share those questions and answers with everyone else. You might say, we’re dying to know!

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93 thoughts on “5 – MICROBIOLOGY-TECHNOLOGY The Science Of Meat & Cultures

  1. Sausage Safety – Curing & Cooking

    Rytek Kutas said the first rule of sausage making is, “If it can’t be cured… it can’t be smoked!” Casing the sausage cuts off oxygen. Anaerobic bacteria do not require oxygen and certain pathogenic bacteria in sausage being smoked certainly present a risk. Meat covered with plastic wrap for “overnight curing” inside a refrigerator presents a risk as well. Most bacteria thrive in the “danger zone” between 40° F. 4° C.) and 140° F. (60° C.). However, two foodborne bacteria, listeria monocytogenes and yersinia enterocolitica can actually grow at refrigerator temperatures!

    Smoke also cuts off oxygen. True, the cooking will destroy trichinella spiralis – the parasitic roundworm whose larval form may be present in the flesh of pork or wild game – whose painful infection is known as trichinosis. Cooking will also destroy staphylococcus aureus, salmonella, campylobacter jejuni, shigella, bacillus cereus and other bad bugs, BUT… botulinum spores are another story! They are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying.

    An obligate anaerobe cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. Without oxygen, the addition of sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites is necessary to prevent botulism poisoning. It also becomes crucial that meat be removed from the “danger zone” temperature range as quickly as possible during any preparation or cooking process. This includes grinding, mixing, and stuffing sausages, procedures often supported using ice, ice water, or refrigeration and freezing. As bacteria need moisture to multiply and meat is about three-quarters water, it becomes an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, even when it is mostly dried.

    Clostridium Botulinum is a common obligate anaerobic bacterium microorganism found in soil and sea sediments. Although it can only reproduce in an oxygen-free environment, when it does reproduce, it produces the deadliest poison known to man – botulinum toxin. One millionth of a gram ingested means certain death – about 500,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Onset of symptoms can occur quickly and include nausea, stomach pain, double vision, and spreading paralysis, ultimately reaching the heart or respiratory organs. If treatment is given and the dose is low, half of those affected may survive, but recovery may take months or years. Although fatalities occur yearly, especially in countries where home canning is popular, the risk of acquiring botulism is very, very low. However, the lethal consequences of poisoning may make you wish to reconsider the proper addition of sodium nitrate/nitrite in your products to almost eliminate the risk. Worldwide, there are about 1000 cases of botulism each year.

    The rod-shaped bacterium was first recognized and isolated in 1896 following the poisoning of several people who had consumed bad ham. It was later discovered that due to the enzyme superoxide dismutase, the bacterium might actually tolerate very small traces of oxygen. Once again, botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. Insidiously, they lie in wait for the right conditions to occur and give no foul smell or taste, making it even more treacherous. In non-cooked fermented sausages, the microorganism must be destroyed using a combination of salt, a drop beyond 5.0 pH, and a minimum drop in Aw water activity to 0.97 or less.

    Additionally, placing fresh vegetables or un-sterilized (garden fresh) spices into sausage is not recommended as botulinum spores are not uncommon on leafy herbs, peppers, beans, chilies, and corn. Cut off from oxygen by being stuffed into casings and placed in a smoker, the smoking temperatures are ideal for botulinal bacteria growth. The risk using fresh garlic is less, but cases of botulism poisoning have been reported after people have eaten home-canned garlic cloves in oil – the ideal environment for anaerobic bacterial growth!

    Our pal and fellow-member “Gray Goat” in Crystal Lake, Illinois, asked a pretty sensible question about this matter. He asked, “I understand the need for adding cure to slow cooked or smoked sausages and meats but why is it ok to not have cure on BBQ. If I run into a stubborn pig or cow I will have butts and briskets on my offset for upwards of twelve hours. Does it have to do with the higher finishing cook temps?”

    That is correct. In short, the answer is “higher cooking temperatures”. Even if some bacteria multiply initially under the conditions of long cooking periods, most are likely to be destroyed as cooking temperatures surpass 150˚ F. (66˚C.). The USDA /FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) recommends that all meats be cooked to at least 160˚ F. This really raises particularly painful perplexity because most wranglers I know prefer their beefsteak cooked medium-rare… and that’s only 130˚ F. (54˚C.). Shucks pards, I used to eat a steer just because it strayed too close to the campfire!

    Consider the cooking temperature of your offset smoker. The chamber is probably 200 – 225˚F. (93- 107˚C.). Roasted BBQ’ed pork, falling off the bone, has been cooked to about 190˚F. (This is BBQ’ing not grilling). Now consider, the temperature at which the parasite trichinella spirallis is destroyed … 138˚F. (59˚C.). Then at about 150˚F. (66˚C.) or thereabouts, a host of bacterial bad guys are destroyed, including listeria monocytogenes, cyclospora cayetanensis, campylobacter jejuni, escherichia coli 0157:H7, (e-coli), salmonella, staphylococcus aureus and clostridium perfringens as well as others.

    Because cased, smoked-cooked, and air-dried sausages are all prepared below 150˚F. or even not cooked at all (dry-cured), they MUST be treated with sodium nitrate/nitrite cures as there simply is not enough heat present to destroy bacteria and other microorganisms.

    The most commonly recognized foodborne infections are those caused by the bacteria species campylobacter, salmonella, and E.coli, along with a group of viruses called calicivirus also known as the Norwalk and Norwalk-like viruses. Campylobacter remains the most common bacterial cause of diarrheal illness in the world and incredibly, most raw poultry meat has campylobacter on it. Salmonella is also a bacterium widespread in the intestines of birds, reptiles, and mammals. Its infection, known as samonellosis, typically includes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps. E.coli 0157:H7 is a bacterial pathogen infecting cattle and other similar animals. Human illness typically follows consumption of food or water that has been contaminated with microscopic amounts of animal feces.

    Again, our first line of defense is the application of extreme temperatures applied to meat either being cooked or frozen. As sausage is prepared, it is essential to work with only small batches at a time outside the refrigerator. Very often, meat is partially frozen before it is put through a grinder and bacteria at this temperature remain mostly inactive. In the grinder, ice chips are sometimes added to keep the temperature down as the friction of grinding actually warms the meat. Out of the refrigerator, most bacteria begin to wake up as the temperature rises above 40°F. (4.4°C.). At 50°F. (10°C.), it is safe to work with the meat only temporarily before it goes back into the refrigerator. At this point, salt in the amount of 2.5% – 3% is frequently added to partially restrict pathogenic and spoilage bacteria growth, as beneficial bacteria go to work producing protective acidity within time. Most bacteria thrive at the temperature of our bodies (98.6°F. / 36.6°C.). As temperatures rise much above the “danger zone”, their growth becomes restricted until around 140°F. (60°C.), they begin to die. Yet, strains such as Clostridium botulinum, may survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C) by producing heat-resistant, isolating envelopes called spores – nature’s way of protecting the organism by sheltering the bacteria from other unsympathetic environmental conditions.
    Most bacterial microbes need to multiply before enough are present in food to cause disease. The way food is handled after it is contaminated can also make a difference in whether or not an outbreak occurs. Given warm moist conditions and an ample supply of nutrients, merely one reproducing bacterium dividing itself every half hour can produce 17 million progeny in only 12 hours! As a result, lightly contaminated food left out overnight can be highly infectious by the next day. If the food were refrigerated promptly, the bacteria would not multiply at all. In general, freezing prevents nearly all bacteria from growing but merely preserves them in a state of “suspended animation”. However, this general rule has a few surprising exceptions. Two foodborne bacteria, listeria monocytogenes and yersinia enterocolitica can actually grow at refrigerator temperatures!

    We placed this information here, not to scare you, rather to cause you to think about being aware of bacteria in sausage making. You owe it to yourself and other to follow the directions strictly and accurately whenever making sausage – especially if other people consume it! Please read all you can about this subject and use caution always. Be safe… all you smoke addicts and sausage grinders!

    Best wishes,
    Chuckwagon
    _______________________________

    The Duk says:

    Here’s a question for you: If the “danger zone” is from 40 degF to 130 degF, why not start your drying at, say, 140 degF and continue smoking for as long as needed, then finish at 170 degF until the magic Internal Meat temperature reaches 155?

    As long as your smoker or oven won’t cycle above 170 (where you risk the fat “breaking,”) it ought to be a lot less labor intensive than adjusting the temperature setpoint a couple of degrees every half hour. Besides, the internal meat will still be in the “danger zone” for the same amount of time, right?

    “Inquiring minds want to know.”

    1. Duk, I learned this lesson from Rytek Kutas. It has to do with the uniform heat dispersal and retention throughout the sausage maintained in a deliberately unhurried process in order to prevent the modification of proteins. If the sausage is initially much above body temperature, it simply won’t withstand “rushed” heat or the fat will “break”, turn orange, and change into a rancid liquid. The texture of the meat without a lubricating fat, will become almost unpalatable. The bright orange liquid will solidify and gather in pockets within the casing or simply leave the casing and drip down to the floor of your smoker. Rytek was adamant about starting the pre-heated smokehouse at only 100°F and raising the temperature slowly, in small increments.
      As an experiment, he showed an audience a three-inch cotto (cooked) salami he was preparing. He quickly pointed out that while the smokehouse door and damper were opened to load the sausages, the preheated 100°F temperature of the smokehouse would drop 20°. Rytek was so annoyed with people rushing this process, that he made a video about it. He also outlined his own procedure as he started the smoking-cooking at 8:00 AM each day. By 9:00 AM the IMT (meat) was 68°F, an increase of 16°. He then closed the damper to ½ and raised the temperature of the oven to 130°.
      At 10 AM, the IMT had risen to 85°F., an increase of 15°. At 11:00 AM, the IMT was 97°F, an increase of 12°. Only at this point would he close the damper to ¼ open, and raise the oven temperature to 140°.
      By Noon, the IMT was 107°F with an increase of 10°F. Then, an hour later, at 1:00 PM, the IMT was 116° with an increase of only 9 more degrees. At 2:00 PM, the IMT was 124° and the increase was only 8° more. At 3:00 PM the IMT had risen to only 131° – an increase of only 7 more degrees. Finally, at 4:00 PM the IMT had risen to merely 136° (only a degree low for destroying trichinella spiralis), with an increase of only 5 degrees.
      Have you noticed the trend? As the IMT rises, the amount of heat increase diminishes with time. During the last step (at 4:00 PM), Rytek steam cooked the sausage until it reached 152°F to shave 18 more hours from the process. The steam-cabinet cooking took one hour exactly. Then at 5:00 PM., he showered the sausage in cold water to stop the cooking process and tighten the casings.
      Again, note that at 4:00 PM, the IMT had only reached 136°F. Rytek claimed that to successfully (and slowly) cook the sausage, it would require 18 or 19 hours more! He said that by “steam cooking” the sausage, this amount of time was saved during the final preparation. He made the comment that, “dry heat is very slow toward the end of the cycle”.

      And for goodness sakes… Never drive black cattle in the dark and always drink upstream from the herd!

      Best Wishes,
      Chuckwagon

  2. I have been reading about UMAi bags and casings for air dried sausages and whole muscle creations. It sure looks like it would make the process much easier. Has anyone tried them or sampled a product where they were used ?

  3. Speaking Of Salt…

    Does kosher salt taste better than table salt? Interestingly, yes, it does. As kosher salt is pressed together by huge rollers, the grains become pyramid-shaped, allowing them to dissolve more easily so it does not linger on the tongue. It’s made without additives, by compacting granular salt into larger flakes that tend to draw blood easily from freshly butchered meats. Kosher salt, at about seventy cents a pound, is ideal to cook with as it blends well, is clean tasting, and contains no additives to influence flavors of cooked foods.

    How many times have you been tempted to leave out the “pinch” of salt called for in your favorite recipes just because we eat more than 25 times as much salt as is necessary to maintain good health? The fact remains, salt is a flavor enhancer that is just as important in sweet recipes as it is in savory dishes. In sausage making, it is an essential ingredient. Never tamper with the amount of salt given in a sausage-making recipe. It is critical in controlling bacteria, destroying possible spiralis trichinella, assists with binding, and assists with dropping the AW in fermented type sausages. Sweet recipes without salt, taste flat and boring. That little pinch of salt reinforces flavors such as butter and vanilla, and that’s not all… it actually masks and suppresses bitter flavors like those of yeast, leavening agents, coffee, eggplant, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, flour proteins, and many other foodstuffs we consume.

    Salt is just salt, right? So why do so many people get excited over the simple seasoning? Although most of us are concerned with its application inside the kitchen, in today’s world salt has more than 40,000 applications from manufacturing to medicine! The ancient Greeks traded salt for slaves, originating the phrase “not worth his salt”. Roman soldiers were partially paid with garlic and salt, explaining the origin of the word salarium (Latin for salt) meaning salary. Salting fish made long-range explorations possible in the age of sailing ships.

    Great chefs have always known the amount of salt in a recipe is important, but the type of salt is crucial. Most of us amateurs are familiar with common table salt (sodium chloride) in granulated form. Mined much the same as coal, rock salt is further processed using water to form small, uniformly shaped cubes. The problem with this type of salt is its inability to dissolve readily, leaving crystals lingering on the tongue. Perhaps you remember when iodine was added to common table salt to prevent medical problems as thyroid disease. Iodized salt is never used in sausage making or meat preservation as it alters the taste of the products.

    Today’s “trendy” salts are expensive in comparison to kosher salt and their flavors dissipate during cooking. Nevertheless, some folks purchase exotic salts for “finishing” (sprinkling on food) and it is not uncommon to see price tags in excess of thirty dollars per pound. Maldon Sea Salt is an English finishing salt receiving a delicate flavor from boiling sea water to produce hollow, pyramid-shaped crystals. At about eleven dollars a pound, it is light on the tongue and may actually be crushed between the fingers. France’s Sel Gris is called “gray salt” and is made along the country’s Atlantic coast when shallow basins are flooded with seawater before the month of May when the evaporation process begins and continues through September. Harvested by raking, it picks up it characteristic flavor from minerals in the clay of the basins. A refined by-product of Sel Gris is called Fleur de Sel (flower of salt). On calm, warm, days without wind, the gray Sel Gris “blooms”, creating white, lacy, crystals of carefully hand-harvested finishing salt with a high price tag. Hawaiian Sea Salts are either black or red. The red salt contains the distinct flavor iron, introduced by the soil used to color the substance. The black salt is flavored with purified lava and contains a flavor and aroma of sulfur.

    (Continued in next post)

  4. Speaking Of Salt (Page 2)

    Adding a pinch of salt to cream or egg whites will enable them to whip better, faster and higher. Improve the flavor of any fresh fowl by salt brining or simply rubbing the bird inside and out (beneath the skin) with salt before roasting. Safeguarding preserved foods, salt creates a hostile environment for certain microorganisms by altering osmotic pressure and dehydrating bacterial cells. Historically, meat has required upwards of 8% salt for its preservation. With the widespread use of Prague Powders (sodium nitrates and nitrites), salt levels are now reduced to less than a palatable three percent. As complete elimination of salt is not possible, it is most important to never reduce or increase the prescribed amount of salt in a sausage, ham, or bacon-making recipe, as salt serves as a binder and fine-tunes certain proteins in meat enabling them to hold water.

    Salt is amazing! It’s an excellent cleaning agent by itself or used in combination with other substances. A paste of salt and vinegar cleans tarnished brass or copper and strong salt brine poured down the kitchen sink prevents grease from collecting and helps eliminate odors. Salt and soda water will clean and sweeten the inside of your refrigerator without scratching the enamel. A thin paste of salt and salad oil removes white marks from wooden tables caused by hot dishes or water. In mild solutions, it makes an excellent mouthwash, throat gargle, or eyewash. It is an effective dentifrice, antiseptic, and it can be extremely helpful as a massage element to improve complexion. Rub your hands with salt and lemon juice to remove fish odors. Peeled apples, pears, and potatoes dropped in cold, lightly salted water, will retain their color. The stuff even helps destroy moths and drives away ants. Salt tossed on a grease fire on the stove or in the oven will smother flames. Remove bitterness from percolators and other coffee pots by filling them with water, adding four tablespoons of salt and percolating or boiling as usual.

    Table Salt…….…………………………..1 cup……………292 gr. …10.3 ounces
    Morton (Kosher).…………………..1-1/2 cups..……..218 gr. ..…7.7 ounces
    Diamond-Crystal (Kosher) ………..1 cup……………142 gr. ….5.0 ounces

    Note that 1 cup of regular table salt weighs more than twice as much as 1 cup of Diamond Crystal (Kosher) salt.

    There are 6 grams in ONE flat teaspoon of TABLE SALT.
    1 oz. (28.3 gr.) = 1-1/2 Tblspns. (4-1/2 tspns.)
    2 oz. (56.7 gr.) = 3 Tblspns. (9 tspns.)
    ½ cup = 146 gr. (.322 lb.) or (5.15 oz.)
    1 cup = 292 gr. (.644 lb.) or (10.3 oz.)
    Prague Powder (Instacure) – 1 ounce (28.3 gr.) = 2 tblspns.
    1 ounce salt = 1-1/2 tblspns.
    The ideal salt content for (fresh) sausage, is about 2 g. per 100 g. meat.
    1 lb. salt = 1-1/2 cups

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  5. Several people have asked about Mold 600 – the preferred mold for the protection of raw, dry-cured, sausages. This should eliminate some of the mystery.

    Mold 600 Bactoferm™ (Previously M-EK-4)
    Mold-600 is a single strain culture containing spores of Penicillium nalgiovense in a convenient freeze-dried form. It was made for production of molded dried sausages with a white or cream-colored appearance. Penicillium nalgiovense is a fast growing, traditional white mold culture for controlling the surface flora and it is particularly recommended for traditional sausages dried at low temperature and/or low humidity.
    Mold-600 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 dry rim. Moreover, the mold degrades lactic acid during maturation resulting in a pH increase and a less sour flavor. The culture must be stored in a freezer and at 15 degrees below zero (F.), it will remain effective for about 6 months. Without freezing, it has a shelf life of only 14 days.
    To use Bactoferm Mold-600, add 3 grams of M-600 to a cup of 68˚F. lukewarm (not hot) distilled, chlorine-free water, and allow it to develop 12 hours. After the 12 hours, add 1 liter of distilled, chlorine-free water. Dip sausages in the solution or spray it on with a misting sprayer.

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  6. Destroying Trichinella Spiralis In Pork (p.1)

    In 2003, Dr. M. Ellin Doyle at the University of Wisconsin in Madison wrote that trichinella spiralis is so resistant to salt that it takes 8 to 9 percent to kill the larva. Levels above about 4 per cent are not palatable to humans. Many dry-cured (raw) sausages are prepared with salt levels nearing 3-1/2 per cent because the higher salt volume controls pathogenic bacteria by “binding” the water (Aw) until the lactic acid bacteria has had a chance to work by competing with the pathogenic bacteria for sugar.

    A couple of years ago, a new member wrote in and asked:
    Quote:
    Do you guys freeze your pork to kill any possible trichinae before making salami or just take a chance and not worry about it?

    Absolutely we freeze pork to kill any possible trichinae. But simple freezing will not destroy the microorganism. We must “Deep” Freeze meat – BELOW ZERO! Although the FSIS has done much to eradicate the disease by enforcing modified laws, especially after the mid 1970’s, there yet remain about 40 cases of trichinosis each year in the U.S. alone. Most of these cases stem from smaller farms yet feeding their stock the entrails of previously slaughtered pork and because it has not yet been completely alleviated and we must never take a chance or take it for granted that it couldn’t yet possibly affect our sausage making.

    In North America, there are five known species of Trichinella. They are Trichinella spiralis, T. nativa, T. pseudospiralis, Trichinella T-5, and Trichinella T-6. The one we deal with most often in pork is trichinella spiralis. The other four occur mostly in game animals. Species T-5 is found mostly in bears and other wildlife in the eastern United States, while species T-6 is mostly in bears and other wildlife in the Northwestern United States. Species T. nativa is found in Alaska. Both T. nativa and Trichinella T-6 are resistant to freezing. Trichinella pseudospiralis has been reported infrequently from birds, but can infect pigs also.

    You would be surprised at just how many people believe that simple freezing will destroy trichinella spiralis. Actually, the majority of people believe it, and that frightens me. I often think of the folks who shoot javelinas and think simply freezing the carcass will take care of trichinella spiralis. It absolutely will not! In fact, The Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, at Massachusetts General Hospital has concluded that “Smoking, salting, or drying meat are not reliable methods of killing the organism that causes this infection”. Further, “Only freezing at subzero temperatures (Fahrenheit) for 3 to 4 weeks will kill the organism”. If folks ever gazed into a microscope and saw the round nematode worm embedded far into human muscle tissue, they would surely think twice about proper sub-zero temperatures. The first time I saw the living microorganism beneath the microscope, I thought I’d lose my lunch! The thing that alarms me is that most people do not have the means of freezing meat at these cryogenic temperatures – so, they take the chance. Yet, if the pork has come from a reliable grocer rather than an “independent small farmer”, you will be pretty much safe.

    (Continued in next post)

  7. Destroying Trichinella Spiralis In Pork (p.2)

    ‘Wanna get’ really scared? Here’s how the little buggers work: Trichinella cysts break open in the intestines and grow into adult roundworms whenever a person eats meat from an infected animal. These roundworms produce other worms that move through the stomach wall and into the bloodstream. From here, the organisms tend to invade muscle tissues, including the heart and diaphragm, lungs and brain. At this point, trichinosis becomes most painful.

    But we can get rid of it right? Wrong! The medications Mebendazole or albendazole may be used to treat infections in the intestines, but once the larvae have invaded the muscles, there is no specific treatment for trichinosis and the cysts remain viable for years. Complications of the disease include encephalitis, heart arrhythmias, myocarditis, (inflammation), and complete heart failure. Pneumonia is also a common complication. So, what do we do? Purchase pork from a known, reliable, suppliers who conform to USDA and FSIS rules and imports commercially-grown pork. Or, you can cryogenically treat your own if you are a small producer of hogs and insist on feeding your piggies the entrails of other animals.

    Employing FSIS rules, hog producers have come so far since the mid 1970’s that trichinella spiralis isn’t much of a threat any longer in commercial pork. However, about 40 people a year are still infected by pork that has been “home grown” by local hog raisers who will not comply. When the animal’s feed is infected, the cycle starts all over again. One of these days, small producers will “get it” and adhere to modern feeding practices recommended by the USDA.

    For your reference, here are the rules of the United States Department Of Agriculture – Meat Inspection Division for destroying trichinae:

    The Meat Inspection Division of the United States Department Of Agriculture arranges the size, volume, and weight of meat products into “groups” to specify handling instructions.

    Group 1 “comprises meat products not exceeding 6” (inches) in thickness, or arranged on separate racks with the layers not exceeding 6” in depth, or stored in crates or boxes not exceeding 6” in depth, or stored as solidly frozen blocks not exceeding 6” in thickness”.

    Group 2 “comprises products in pieces, layers, or within containers, the thickness of which exceeds 6” but not 27” and products in containers including tierces, barrels, kegs, and cartons, having a thickness not exceeding 27”. The product undergoing such refrigeration or the containers thereof shall be spaced while in the freezer to insure a free circulation of air between the pieces of meat, layers, blocks, boxes, barrels, and tierces, in order that the temperature of the meat throughout will be promptly reduced to not higher than 5 degrees F., -10 degrees F., or -20 degrees F., as the case may be”.

  8. Destroying Trichinella Spiralis In Pork (p.3)

    Item 1: Heating & Cooking

    “All parts of the pork muscle tissue shall be heated to a temperature of not less than 138° F.” Whenever cooking a product in water, the entire product must be submerged for the heat to distribute entirely throughout the meat. Always test the largest pieces since it always takes longer to reach the 138°F temperature in thicker pieces. Always test the temperature in a number of places.

    Item 2: Refrigerating & Freezing

    “At any stage of preparation and after preparatory chilling to a temperature of not above 40° F., or preparatory freezing, all parts of the muscle tissue of pork or product containing such tissue shall be subjected continuously to a temperature not higher than one of these specified in Table 1, the duration of such refrigeration at the specified temperature being dependent on the thickness of the meat or inside dimensions of the container.”

    Table 1: Required Period Of Freezing At Temperature Indicated

    Temperature Group 1 (first number of days) Group 2 (second number of days)
    +05° F. 20 days / 30 days
    -10° F. 10 days / 20 days
    -20° F. 6 days / 12 days

    Item 3: Curing Sausage

    “Sausage may be stuffed in animal casings, hydrocellulose casings, or cloth bags. During any stage of treating the sausage for the destruction of live trichinae, these coverings shall not be coated with paraffin or like substance, nor shall any sausage be washed during any prescribed period of drying. In preparation of sausage, one of the following methods may be used:

    Method No. 1:
    “The meat shall be ground or chopped into pieces not exceeding ¾” in diameter. A dry-curing mixture containing not less than 3-1/3 lbs. of salt to each hundredweight of the unstuffed sausage shall be thoroughly mixed with the ground or chopped meat. After being stuffed, sausage having a diameter not exceeding 3-1/2” measured at the time of stuffing, shall be held in a drying room not less than 20 days at a temperature not lower than 45 degrees F., except that in sausage of the variety known as pepperoni; if in casing and not exceeding 1-3/8” in diameter at the time of stuffing, the period of drying may be reduced to 15 days. In no case, however, shall the sausage be released from the drying room in less than 25 days from the time the curing materials are added, except that the sausage of the variety known as pepperoni, if in casings not exceeding the size specified, may be released at the expiration of 20 days from the time the curing materials are added. Sausage in casings exceeding 3-1/2” but not exceeding 4” in diameter at the time of stuffing shall be held in a drying room not less than 35 days at a temperature not lower than 45 degrees F., and in no case shall the sausage be released from the drying room in less than 40 days from the time the curing materials are added to the meat.

    Method No. 2:
    “The meat shall be ground or chopped into pieces not exceeding ¾” in diameter. A dry-curing mixture containing no less than 3-1/3 lbs. of salt to each hundredweight of the unstuffed sausage shall be thoroughly mixed with the ground or chopped meat. After being stuffed, the sausage having a diameter not exceeding 3-1/2” measured at the time of stuffing, shall be smoked not less than 40 hours at a temperature of not lower than 80 degrees F. and finally held in a drying room not less than 10 days at a temperature not lower than 45 degrees F. In no case, however, shall the sausage be released from the drying room in fewer than 18 days from the time the curing materials are added to the meat. Sausage exceeding 3-1/2”, but not exceeding 4” in diameter at the time of stuffing, shall be held in a drying room following the smoking as above indicated, not less than 25 days at a termperature not lower than 45 degrees F., and in no case shall the sausage be released from the drying room in less than 33 days from the time the curing materials are added to the meat.
    ___________

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  9. Why We Use Nitrates And Nitrites

    But Grandpa didn’t use nitrates so why should we? Gosh, I wonder how many “grandpas” died of “natural causes”? 😯

    Clostridium Botulinum is a common obligate anaerobic bacterium microorganism found in soil and sea sediments. Although it can only reproduce in an oxygen-free environment, when it does reproduce, it produces the deadliest poison known to man – botulinum toxin. One millionth of a gram ingested means certain death – about 500,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. An obligate anaerobe cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. Without oxygen, the addition of sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites is necessary to completely prevent the possibility of botulism poisoning. It also becomes crucial that meat be removed from the “danger zone” temperature range as quickly as possible during any preparation or cooking process. This includes grinding, mixing, and stuffing sausages – procedures often supported using ice, ice water, or refrigeration and freezing. As bacteria need moisture to multiply and meat is about three-quarters water, it becomes an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, even when it is mostly dried.

    The rod-shaped bacterium was first recognized and isolated in 1896 following the poisoning of several people who had consumed bad ham. It was later discovered that due to the enzyme superoxide dismutase, the bacterium might actually tolerate very small traces of oxygen. Once again, botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. Insidiously, they lie in wait for the right conditions to occur and give no foul smell or taste, making it even more treacherous. In non-cooked fermented sausages, the microorganism must be destroyed using a combination of salt, Cure #2 containing sodium nitrate, a drop beyond 5.0 pH, and a minimum drop in Aw water activity to 0.97 or less.

    The onset of its symptoms can occur quickly and include nausea, stomach pain, double vision, and spreading paralysis, ultimately reaching the heart or respiratory organs. Although fatalities occur yearly, especially in countries where home canning is popular, the risk of acquiring botulism is very, very low. Worldwide, there are only about 1000 cases of botulism each year. However, the lethal consequences of poisoning may make you wish to reconsider the proper addition of sodium nitrate/nitrite in your products to almost eliminate the risk. I believe that one thousand cases annually are one thousand too many!

    To risk your own health is one thing. To sell or give away the sausage to unsuspecting consumers is quite another matter. 😥 The liability you open yourself up to, is incredible. Please be aware that by not using sodium nitrate in an air-dried sausage, definitely places consumers at risk, no matter how slight the possibilities.

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

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