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. When I was a kid Trichina was a very real problem and was feared by everyone who ate pork. We NEVER ate fermented uncooked pork. There is a story told of a dispute between a microbiologist and a politician about the existence of the cause of Trichina and the politician called the scientist a fraud. The scientist challenged the politician by setting out two sausages. One he knew to be infested and the other he knew to be free of the parasite. He told the politician to eat one of the sausages and he would eat the other. The politician experienced a sudden conversion and decided to believe in science.

  2. “Fresh or frozen”?

    I’ve killed a LOT of wild hogs over the years and have never once had a bite of any of it that hadn’t spent a couple weeks in one of my garage freezers, both kept at -5ºF. I must admit that outside of the hams that get smoked I don’t eat a lot of wild pig cuts, hardly any, really. Everything else on the hog but the hams gets deboned and cubed for sausage, then shrink-wrapped and tossed into the freezers. I do remember a time when one of my guests at the ranch I hunted for many years wanted to BBQ the backstrap of a freshly killed wild boar, we told him no way. I didn’t know then what I know now, but we told him that eating a hunk of meat from a animal that was butchered before rigor mortis had set in was bound to cause some problems. RAY

  3. There’s a new post regarding raw pork recipes such as Mettwurst, in the “Knowledgebase” menu under “Technical Content.” It’s called “Certified Pork and Raw Meat Sausages.” There’s also a new recipe (Mettwurst) for you to try, compliments of our ol’ buddy, Chuckwagon.

    Unless you are making a raw product using “certified pork”, you must always follow the recommended cooking temperatures in recipes. If Mettwurst or other raw sausage is being made, the pork must be “certified”. In other sausages, the internal temperature of cooked fresh pork must reach at least 150°F. (65°C.) . Here’s a summary of USDA FSIS guidelines, a “how to,” and a great recipe. Try it!

  4. Scombroid Poisoning And Scombrotoxin Histamine Contamination Of Fish

    I was chatting with El DuckO the other day, (we are actually close friends), when he brought up the subject of “fish poisoning”. As many of our readers indeed handle fish and make fish sausage, I thought it would be a good time to post material about food-borne toxin we call “Scombroid Poisoning”. (The following information was taken from an essay written by Richard Lawley in January of 2013.)

    What is scombrotoxin?
    Scombrotoxin is a foodborne toxin most often associated with the consumption of fish, particularly species belonging to the Scombridae and Scomberesocidae families (scombroid fish), such as mackerel and tuna. It can cause a mild, though sometimes distressing, form of foodborne intoxication (scombroid or scombrotoxic food poisoning) when ingested in sufficient quantities.

    Scombrotoxic poisoning is also known as histamine poisoning, since histamine is considered to be the principal toxic component of scombrotoxin, although other compounds may be involved. Histamine (C5H9N3) is a biogenic amine and can be produced during processing and/or storage in fish and certain other foods, usually by the action of spoilage bacteria.

    What foods can be contaminated?
    Scombrotoxin is most often associated with scombroid fish, especially tuna, skipjack, bonito and mackerel, but other non-scombroid fish, such as sardines, herring, pilchards, marlin and mahi-mahi have been involved in outbreaks of illness. There are also reports that scombrotoxin could occur in salmon species. Generally, fast swimming and migratory finfish species with red coloured meat are more likely to develop high histamine levels that whitefish species.

    The toxin is not limited to fresh and frozen fish. It may be present in canned and cured fish products at high enough concentrations to cause illness. The concentration of histamine can vary considerably between different sampling sites in a single fish, or between individual cans in a single lot. Levels of more than 3,000 ppm have been recorded in fish products implicated in outbreaks of scombrotoxic poisoning.
    Histamine can also be produced at levels toxic to humans by bacterial action in other foods, notably Swiss cheese.

    How does it affect human health?
    Scombrotoxic (histamine) poisoning is a chemical intoxication, in which symptoms typically develop rapidly (from 10 minutes to two hours) after ingestion of food containing toxic histamine levels.
    The range of symptoms experienced is quite wide, but may include an oral burning or tingling sensation, skin rash and localized inflammation, hypotension, headaches and flushing. In some cases vomiting and diarrhea may develop and elderly or sick individuals may require hospital treatment. The symptoms usually resolve themselves within 24 hours.
    The evidence for histamine as the active toxin in scombrotoxic poisoning is strong, but the condition is very difficult to replicate in humans using pure histamine and a clear dose-response effect is lacking. Scombroid poisoning is therefore not now considered to be simple histamine poisoning. A number of possible toxicity mechanisms have been proposed, but the true cause remains uncertain. One possibility is that other biogenic amines in spoiled fish, such as putrescine and cadaverine, may act as potentiators for histamine toxicity.
    Because of the uncertainty over the mechanism of toxicity, the threshold toxic level for histamine remains unclear. Individuals also vary in the severity of their response to histamine in fish. Analysis of outbreaks suggests that levels of histamine above 200 ppm are potentially toxic. Although histamine occurs naturally in the human body, exposure to large doses can rapidly produce the symptoms of toxicity.

    How common is illness?
    The symptoms of histamine poisoning resemble an allergic reaction and there is potential for misdiagnosis. Furthermore, since symptoms are usually mild, it is likely that the illness is considerably under-reported. Nevertheless, it is thought that histamine poisoning is one of the commonest forms of fish-related toxicity.
    The highest numbers of cases are reported in the USA, Japan and the UK, but this may be a reflection of reporting systems rather than incidence. Between 1992 and 2009, England and Wales reported 71 outbreaks affecting 336 people. Outbreaks were more common in summer than in winter. In the USA, between 1968 and 1980, 103 outbreaks involving 827 people were reported and in Japan over the same period, 42 outbreaks affecting 4,122 people. A more recent report (2008) stated that scombroid poisoning accounted for 38% of all seafood-related poisoning outbreaks in the USA.
    Large outbreaks also occur. In 1973, at least 200 US consumers became ill after eating domestic canned tuna.
    In the first six months of 2005 an unusual increase in incidence was reported in England and Wales, with 16 outbreaks affecting 38 people. This was thought to be associated with poor temperature control and hygiene in certain catering premises. A similar trend was reported in 2010.

    Where does it come from?
    Histamine in fish and other foods is produced by the decarboxylation of the amino acid histidine and fish species that have high levels of free histidine in their tissues are most likely to develop toxic histamine levels. This is usually the result of the action of the enzyme histidine decarboxylase, which is found in a number of bacterial species that may occur on fish.

    Bacteria such as Vibrio species, Pseudomonas species and Photobacterium species are found in the marine environment and occur naturally on fish. Others, especially the Enterobacteriaceae, are contaminants that are introduced post-harvest. It is this second group that is considered most important in the development of histamine. Species such as Morganella morganii,Raoultella planticola and Hafnia alvei are able to produce high levels of histamine very rapidly at mesophilic temperatures (20-30oC). For this reason, histamine is more often produced during spoilage in this temperature range, although high levels can also develop at temperatures as low as 0-5oC over time. Recently, significant histamine production has been found in psychrotolerant species, such as Morganella psychrotolerans and Photobacterium phosphoreum.
    In tropical waters the indigenous microflora may be more important histamine-producing organisms, particularly when fishing methods such as long-lining are used, where the fish may die before landing. Under these conditions, it is possible for histamine to be formed before the fish is landed and chilled.
    There is evidence that histidine decarboxylase remains active at chill temperatures, even though the bacteria themselves are not active. Therefore once the enzyme has been formed at higher temperatures, it may continue to produce histamine even when the fish is properly chilled.
    It is also possible for histamine to form after cooking or canning if the fish subsequently becomes contaminated with histidine decarboxylase-producing bacteria. This can happen when canned fish is handled under conditions of poor hygiene.

    Is it stable in food?
    Histamine is extremely stable once formed and is not affected by cooking. It can survive canning and retorting processes and is not reduced during freezing or frozen storage. Furthermore, high histamine levels may not be accompanied by other signs of spoilage and may be undetectable other than by chemical analysis.
    The enzyme histidine decarboxylase is inactivated by cooking and further histamine will not then be produced unless recontamination occurs.

    How can it be controlled?

    For primary producers – Temperature control:
    The key measure for the control of histamine production in fish is rapid chilling as soon as possible after death, particularly where the fish has been exposed to warm water. This will inhibit the formation of bacterial histidine decarboxylase. Once the enzyme is present control options are very limited.
    Accepted guidelines (FDA 2011) recommend that fish exposed to air or water temperatures of 28.3oC or less should be placed in ice, chilled seawater or brine at 4.4oC or less as soon as possible, but not more than 9 hours of the time of death. If the fish have been exposed to air or water temperatures above 28.3oC they should be chilled to 4.4oC or less as soon as possible, but not more than 6 hours from the time of death. Fish gutted and gilled before chilling should be chilled to 4.4oC or less as soon as possible, but not more than 12 hours from the time of death. Very large fish such as tuna that are eviscerated before chilling also should have the body cavity packed with ice.
    Further chilling to a temperature as close to the freezing point as possible is desirable to prevent less rapid formation of histidine decarboxylase at lower temperatures. Even rapid chilling to 4.4oC or less may only give a safe shelf life of 5-7 days.
    Once frozen, the fish can be stored safely for extended periods and further histidine decarboxylase will not be formed. However, enzyme produced before freezing will not be destroyed and will continue to produce histamine after thawing.
    Hygiene and handling
    Good hygienic practice on board fishing vessels, especially during landing and processing, is important to minimise contamination with non-indigenous histamine producing bacterial species.
    Careful handling of fish to avoid damage to muscle tissue is also important in preventing contamination. For example, puncture wounds in fish can introduce contaminating bacteria into deep tissue where large concentrations of histidine are available. Histamine production may then happen much more quickly.

    For food processors and caterers
    Cooking will destroy both histamine producing bacteria and bacterial decarboxylases, but not histamine itself. Cooked fish therefore can be stored safely for longer periods and canned fish can be kept almost indefinitely.
    It is important to note that once cooked or canned fish becomes recontaminated with histamine producing bacteria, temperature control again becomes critical to prevent a hazard. For example, canned tuna that is not consumed immediately after opening should be stored at less than 5oC as soon as possible.
    Good hygiene at processing and preparation stages in the supply chain, such as cutting and packing or in catering operations, is also important to prevent contamination of fresh fish, or recontamination of frozen and cooked fish.

    In the USA the Food and Drug Administration has issued guidelines for tuna and related fish establishing a ‘defect action level’ of 50 ppm in any sample. This is said to be indicative of spoilage and may mean that toxic levels are present in other samples. A separate toxicity level of 500 ppm is also given. The international Codex standard for fish also includes histamine levels as indicators of decomposition and hygiene and handling. A maximum average level of not more than 100 ppm is considered satisfactory in relation to decomposition, while an upper limit of 200 ppm in any one sample is applied for hygiene and handling.

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  5. Bacterial Pathogens Remain On (RPC) Reusable Plastic Containers

    A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arkansas and WBA Analytical Laboratories in the USA has revealed that bacterial pathogens may persist on the surfaces of the reusable plastic containers (RPC) often used to transport fresh produce and other foods even after standard cleaning and sanitizing.

    Researchers placed cultures of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and E. coliO157:H7 onto sample containers and incubated them to allow the bacteria to grow on the surfaces. After careful rinsing, the samples were examined using scanning electron microscopy to look for attached bacteria. In all cases, the bacteria had produced attached “biofilms” on the plastic surfaces.

    Further experiments were then carried out to determine the effect of typical cleaning and sanitizing procedures used to clean RPC in the food industry. This was done by applying cleaning and sanitizing agents directly and by swabbing the plastic samples to mimic the effect of physical cleaning. The results showed that bacteria remained attached to the plastic surface after cleaning.

    The findings suggest that biofilms could build up on Reusable Plastic Containers over time as they are reused and could act as a source of pathogen contamination for transported foods. Remarkably, there have been no documented cases of RPC acting as the source of contamination in food poisoning outbreaks. Perhaps it will only be a matter of time. Sausage makers… wash, wash, wash those reusable containers!

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

      1. Reminds me of a chemical plant startup that I was on, just west of Kingston, Ontario. The guys were all ice fishing fans. “Aren’t Lake Ontario fish contaminated with mercury?” I asked them.

        “No problem,” they said. “When you catch ’em, plant ’em head down in a snow drift. Later that afternoon, when the temperature drops, the mercury goes down and you cut the heads off.”

        Sorry, guys- – not recommended on THIS website.
        Duk
        😀

  6. …good article. This may explain Chuckwagon’s cold, clammy, dead-fish-like handshake. – – “it takes one to know one?”

    Actually, modest as he is, our ol’ pal Chuckles is actually quite a knowledgeable guy when it comes to food-borne illnesses. The guy knoweth wherein-eth he thpeaketh. (Thufferin’ thuccotash, that’s hard to thay!) Anyway, this guy has studied food science quite a bit, hung out with some of the best sausage makers in the field (and in the kitchen too), and yes, DOES know what he’s talking about.

    But now, at least in my little corner of the world, spring temperatures have arrived, putting an end to a short salmon cold-smoking season. We’ll post his write-up where everyone can find it again (rather than in the trash “bit bucket” like most of his … uh…). It’s good advice, Bro’, well worth re-visiting when the opportunity presents itself.

    …and probably indicates that it’s time for Chuckwagon’s annual bath.
    Duk
    😀

    1. Annual bath? Naawwww! I jest git on muh Harley and “blast” off the stink!
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  7. Goodness, Gracious, Garlic! Garlic! Garlic!

    My ol’ pappy used to say… “Son, there are two things you just don’t do… get on the right side of yer’ horse and cook without garlic”. Shucks, our ranch cook “Dutch Oven Dick” wouldn’t even speak to people who didn’t eat or cook with garlic. He believed anyone not loving the stuff should be deported… from Earth! The opinionated sourdough, wearing the stuff around his neck, told me that garlic falls into two primary categories – hardneck and softneck. As the man spread it upon his toast, he explained that the garlic most of us cook with is of the “softneck” variety, which contains a circle of plump cloves shrouding a second circle of smaller cloves, all enveloped by layers of paper. Its neck is soft and pliable, it is heat-tolerant, stores well, and has become the country’s favorite commercial garlic. Hardneck garlic is distinguished by its stiff center staff, around which large uniform cloves hang. It is considered superior in flavor and more complex and intense than the softneck varieties. The original cultivated garlic, hardneck has a relatively sparse parchment wrapper making it easier to peel (and damage) than softneck and its thinly wrapped cloves lose moisture more quickly than the softneck variety. Dutch Oven Dick’s favorites? The robust flavored hardneck varieties of course, including Porcelain, Zemo, Rocambole, and Carpathian.

    Garlic, (allium sativum), just like the onion, belongs to the lily family! It was first found near Siberia although it was discovered later to be growing wild in Sicily. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed a curious superstition – if a man running a race chewed a morsel of the bulb, it would prevent his competitors from getting ahead of him. Grown in England about the year 1540, the name garlic, derived from gar (a spear) and lac (a plant), is of Anglo-Saxon origin.

    The majority of garlic in the United States is cultivated near Gilroy, California, and the use of it becomes more popular each year. Gilroy’s Garlic Annual Festival is something to behold! Surprisingly, although the ancient Romans enjoyed garlic, it was believed to be poisonous by many people scarcely over sixty years ago. Today a multitude of disorders are treated with garlic including hypoglycemia, arthritis, hypertension, and diabetes. Pappy used it to treat colds, ulcers, and insomnia. Now, doctors believe it has anti-carcinogenic properties, so cook with lots of it or eat it raw. If your horse complains about your breath, remove garlic’s aroma from your mouth and hands with coffee beans. If your mate objects to the odor of garlic, find a new mate! Drive ‘em off with 12 gauge buckshot, write his or her phone number upon several restroom walls, sue for divorce including punitive damages, and marry a garlic-loving individual, as he or she will most certainly exhibit a much higher intelligence quotient than your previous partner.

    Many cooks claim that crushed garlic added directly to mashed potatoes has too much of a “raw edge” and recommend toasting several unpeeled cloves of garlic inside a dry, cast iron skillet over medium heat to tame the harsh flavor a bit. Shake the pan regularly until the skins are golden brown in about five minutes. The skins will almost fall off the cooked morsels. If you prefer creamier texture, increase the cooking time to as much as fifteen minutes. Quite a number of good panjanglers toast the stuff in a little olive oil and then add the oil to the spuds along with the garlic. In any event, be careful not to burn it as it may become bitter. The amount of flavor extracted from garlic depends upon the extent to which a clove is cut or crushed as the cells of the plant are ruptured releasing allyl sulfenic acid – an odorless chemical – combining with the enzyme allinase. The compound created is known as allicin – the stuff directly accountable for the fundamental aroma and flavor of garlic. The more the plant is broken down, the more enzymes are released as its “bite” becomes stronger. Cooks should realize that allinase becomes inert whenever heated beyond 150 degrees F. and no new flavors may be rendered from the plant – a desired characteristic when it comes to the preparation of “baked garlic”.

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  8. Meat Curing: Notes On Brining Hams, Whole Muscles, And Poultry

    Someone once asked me, “Why do you cure meat… is it sick?” If you’ve ever barbequed a “fresh” (not cured), rear leg of a porker, you know that it is sensational prepared in just a little hickory smoke, brushed with Cuban “mojo” (pronounced “mo-ho”) sauce, and served with just a touch of mustard when it’s done. This is high temperature (above 200°F.) “cooking” and any accompanying smoke, although it cuts off oxygen, is part of the process and is certainly desired. Smoky flavor is incredible. So why do we take this same “fresh” rear leg only, soak it in a brine of salt water with sodium nitrite added, (being sure to inject deep muscle and along the bone), allow it to “cure” several days, soak it in fresh water, cook it slowly in water that doesn’t quite boil , and then call it “ham”? And just why is the front leg called a “picnic”? All this inconvenience adds up to a unique flavor that human beings call “ham”, even when a front leg or another cut is being used. If the process includes “drying” the meat to a point below Aw 0.85, it even becomes more stable for a longer period of time. Italy is known for its brine-cured, air-dried hams covered with black protective coating of hardened molasses. However, brining ham is usually done to add juiciness and flavor in addition to “curing” it – protecting the meat from pathogenic bacteria. The brining process may also assist in the destruction of any possible trichinella spiralis, a live, nematode infectious worm. Will salt alone destroy this threat? The answer is no. To eliminate the organism, the salt content would have to be unpalatably massive. This is where the cooking step becomes effective whenever making a “boiled” ham, and where the drying step takes place while making a dry-cured ham. Oh yes, and by-the-way… “boiled ham” is never boiled. El DuckO must have named it centuries ago, when he was just a kid. Here’s a grrrrrrreat mojo sauce. I can’t remember where I stole it!

    Mojo Naranja Agria
    ½ cup olive oil
    10 cloves of garlic (minced)
    1/2 cup lime juice (or 2/3 cup fresh sour orange (Naranja Agria) juice-if you can get it)
    1/3 cup water
    1 tspn. cumin
    ½ tspn. oregano
    1 tspn. salt
    ½ tspn. black pepper
    3 tblespns. Chopped cilantro (fresh)
    *Cook the garlic slightly in the oil over medium heat. Add the remaining ingredients except the cilantro, and bring the sauce to boil. Remove the Mojo from the heat and add the cilantro.

    The Difference Between Brining And Curing

    Did you know that whenever you cook a ham, up to 30% moisture loss takes place? It’s true, even if you cook it in water. Brining solves the problem somewhat. If you first soak the ham in salt brine (before cooking), the loss of moisture may be reduced to only 15%. A salt brine also reduces and dissolves some of the meat’s proteins, turning them into liquid included in the exudate.

    If a chef “brines” a chicken overnight then bakes or barbecues it the next day, does the brine need to contain sodium nitrite? No, because of the high cooking temperatures involved – in a short period of time, only a brining solution is needed. However, if the same chicken is smoked the next day, involving hours being cut off from oxygen and lower temperatures, it absolutely must be “brine cured”, that is, soaked in a salt brine containing sodium nitrite. Why? It’s because bacteria are cut off from oxygen, multiply in the “danger zone (40°F to 140°F), and have a nutritional source. This “curing brine” must be mixed precisely following FSIS specifications. (See post on “Curing and Sodium Nitrate/Nitrite”). The only drawback to salt and nitrite cure is that it darkens the color of the meat it cures. For this reason, most commercial manufactures of meat products today, add a host of chemicals including ascorbates and erythorbates. There yet remains some controversy about the addition of these items (see my post on erythorbate).

    Did you know that adding a small amount of sugar to your salt brine, gives ham a wonderful flavor? It also helps to modify proteins in the progression of water-binding and diffusion. It makes“heavy” brine, increasing the salinometer degrees (strength). However, sugar should be added to brine only if it is to be refrigerated, as warmer temperatures induce fermentation and the spoilage process begins. Years ago, large, whole rear-leg hams were commercially brined up to six weeks. Of course, unless specific procedures were followed, such as removing slime from the surface of the meat, and bacteria-gathering foam from the liquid, the meat spoiled during the curing step. It was (and is) vital to inject the cure along the bone to prevent “sour”. Today, things have changed quite a bit with modern innovations such as the “stitch pump”.

    Varying Strengths We Need For Different Projects

    Remember, there is no all-inclusive, all-purpose brine. A solution’s strength is entirely up to the sausage maker. However, there are some practical applications with the use of salt and many recommended strengths have been made by experienced sausage-makers for a variety of reasons. For instance, it has been found that generally, poultry (being more delicate), is best when brined in a solution of only 21° to 25° SAL. On the other end of the scale, fish are usually brined in a solution of 70° to 80° SAL. What about pork and beef? Anywhere from about 40° to 70° SAL is effective. A brine of 40°SAL is most popular because the formula is so simple to remember (one pound of salt to one gallon of water).

    If you are racing the clock to cure a ham before it begins to sour, a brine of 75° SAL is not out of the question. All things considered, a stronger brine may be used for a shorter period of time, while a weaker brine takes longer to effect the same result. Why do we bother to measure the strength of the brine each time we make it? In a nutshell… consistency! We like to be able to predict the outcome and be sure of its unvarying success time after time.

    Recommended Brine Strengths In SAL Degrees:
    Poultry 21° SAL to 25° SAL
    Pork And Beef 40° SAL to 70° SAL
    Fish 70° SAL to 80° SAL
    *Note: A brine of 40°SAL is most popular because the formula is so simple to remember (one pound of salt to one gallon of water).

    Let’s take a look at some favorite brine-cures. When you have made a few brine-cures and used them, you’ll no doubt develop a favorite. Everyone does. You’ll soon learn how exactly how much time a project needs in the brine to produce the best results. You must allow enough curing time for the curing agent to completely penetrate the meat and “cure” it, while not allowing too much time, or your project will taste too salty. With a little experience, the final product will be perfect. Here are a few recipes from some known sources.

    The USDA “Poultry Brine” (21°SAL)
    1 gallon water
    ¾ cup salt (219 gr. Non-iodized

    Our fellow-member, South-African Parson Snows, a well known sausagemaker, recommends his brine of 22.5° SAL.
    “Snows 22.5° SAL”
    1 lb. salt
    16 lbs. water
    Or… one part salt to sixteen parts water.

    And of course, the one I grew up with…
    “Rytek Kutas’ 25° SAL”
    2-1/2 gallons water
    1 lb. salt
    ½ lb. of Cure #1 (contains 0.465 lb. salt)
    ¾ lb. powdered dextrose

    And last of all, everyone’s favorite… because it’s so dog-gone easy to remember! If you use it for poultry, 90 minutes in the brine is plenty.
    “ETR-40” (Easy To Remember) Brine-Cure 40° SAL
    1 gallon water
    1 lb. salt

    Considerations In Brine-Curing

    Now, let’s have a look at the conditions we can limit or control during the brine-curing process. In the following considerations, which would you suppose would be the most important? Please review the list and think about the answer. Again, which is most important and why? Now, can you think of one condition we cannot control? What is it?

    • The size of the meat (An 18 pound ham takes longer to cure than a 12 pound ham).
    • The salt content (The higher the content, the faster the curing).
    • The moisture content of the meat. (See below)
    • The temperature of the cure and meat. (The higher the temperature, the faster the curing).
    • The amount of fat in the meat. (The higher the amount of fat, the slower the curing).

    Which is most important? Is it the amount of fat? No. Although fat will not “cure” because nitrite will not act upon it, the flesh of a ham will be penetrated from the lean side.
    Is the most important item the size of the meat requiring more or less time? No. We can always make more brine and increase the brining duration.
    Is the moisture content of the meat the most important factor? No. If the meat is cured properly, the moisture content will take care of itself.
    The answer is the temperature of the cure and meat. Why? Again, the ideal temperature is 38°F with a variable of only two degrees higher or lower. If the temperature becomes warmer, spoilage may begin, while temperatures below this point will delay or retard the curing process and even impede it at a certain point.
    It’s interesting to note that when curing with sodium nitrate during the dry-curing process, (where the cure is simply rubbed onto the meat [or placed into comminuted meat]), the procedure must be done at higher temperatures where lactobacilli and pediococci bacteria may react with sodium nitrate to become sodium nitrite, and finally nitric oxide (not to be confused with nitrous oxide), the actual curing agent.

    The Duration And “Pickup” – (Time In The Brine)

    The process we cannot control is the “pickup” volume. We may increase the speed (rate) of curing by adding chemicals and heat, but ultimately, the assimilation (volume or amount of absorption), is determined by nature. The simple truth is we may use stronger brine for less time, or we can use weaker brine for a longer period of time, to achieve the same effect. Is there a universal brine? No, there cannot be one. The strength of nitrates and nitrites themselves do not vary. It is the amount of sodium nitrite added to a sodium chloride (pink salt) carrier that makes a cure stronger or weaker in comparison to others used in various countries around the globe. Discussing the variable duration (brining length of time), would be futile without a consistent-strength sodium nitrite additive in a constant brine strength.

    With that said, we must begin somewhere. So, we soon learn that an accepted example has been set up as something called a… Rule Of Thumb (For The Amount Of Cure#1 In Brining Solution):
    Again, for immersion, pumped, or massaged products, the maximum IN-GOING nitrite limit is 200 ppm., set by law. This is achieved when 4.2 ounces of Cure #1 is added to one gallon of water. The nitrite pickup rate in this formula is 150 ppm. Just right! It is actually a weak brine of only 16° SAL. This produces a good brine strength for poultry. In other words, in 8.33 pounds of water (1 gallon), 120 grams (or 4.2 ounces) of Cure #1 must be added to achieve the “pickup” within legal limits. This is much more cure than is added to comminuted sausage. Note the volume amount in 4.2 ounces is 20 teaspoons or a little more than 6 tablespoonsful. Needless to say, if a person is making 5 gallons of curing brine, say for a large amount of meat (up to 100 pounds of rounds for dried beef), one needs to add a whopping 595 grams (21 ounces), yes… that’s 1.3 pounds of Cure #1.

    A more sturdy brine of 25° SAL can be made easily for brining poultry simply by adding an additional pound of salt to the formula. The nitrite pickup rate in this formula remains 150 ppm. As you may be able to see, a liquid must retain an incredible amount of salt to reach 70° or 75° salinity.

    How much brine should you make?

    There’s a simple ol’ timer’s adage that reads, “The amount of brine should equal about forty or fifty percent of the weight of the meat being cured”. In other words, you don’t need a barrel-full of brining cure to baptize one duck! So simply use enough brine to equal one and a half times the duck’s weight. However, if I were going to brine cure a “big” duck like El DuckO, I would first weigh him. Let’s say he weighs about 250 lbs. I would have to find a suitable container to hold 125 pounds of brine (50% of his weight). Shucks, I have the perfect container – the bear trap I dug in my back yard! I’ll just fill it with 125 pound of salt water and lasso him when he walks by! Danged ol’ rabid duck, anyhow! I’ll pickle him overnight.

    Timing Is Critical

    To make a point, allow me to move away from ham for just one minute and consider SawhorseRay’s favorite recipe – brined turkey! (See his posts from yesterday 4/27/15). Some time ago, I persuaded Sawhorse Ray to begin using 7-Up (the soft drink) with salt for his turkey brining. I heard that Ray went nuts over the stuff, painted his tonsils, mounted his horse, shot up the town wearing his Superman cape, and was run out of town on a rail!

    This method has a couple of things going for it. First, the brining process is unique and incredibly moist in that salt entering the cells alters the protein structure. However, in turkey brined less than six hours, meat may be dry when cooked. In turkey brined more than 24 hours, the texture will become mushy as the salt begins to break down interior muscle fibers. Chickens and turkeys naturally contain some salt and lots or water, which coexist in a happy balance until we yahoo yellin’ sausage wranglers throw it off. Nature restores order (called “equilibrium”) by moving water to the surface where it dissolves salt. Doesn’t this cause the meat to dry out? You bet it does! This is where correct “timing” comes in on our part.

    Second, the 7-Up treatment gives the meat, not only added benefits to texture, but to flavor as well. This is due to a modification in the sugars held by proteins.

    However, if we cook the bird that has been brined for merely three hours, the cooked product is drier than if we hadn’t salted it to begin with. Yet, if we cook the bird after six or more hours of brining, the results change entirely. By that point, the exterior salt had pulled so much water to the surface that the balance of the salt concentration had changed. To “restore equilibrium, the water simply changes directions, flowing back into the meat, but this time the salt “goes along for the ride” although it is dissolved. You may ask if other compounds or spices can be introduced into the meat by this method. The answer is yes, … IF… the flavoring agent is water-soluble. These include sugars and salts, black and cayenne pepper, chili powder and paprika. If the compound is ‘fat-soluble’, such as capsaicin in peppers, it won’t work.

    Yup pards, you’ll just have to take my word for it… 7-Up or Sprite will kick your turkey’s butt all over the kitchen then right up on your dining room table! It is unique. Just ask Sawhorse Ray. However, the “timing” in the formula is essential to the recipe.

    Salt Brine Tables for Brine at 60 F (15° C) in US Gallons
    Column 1 = Salometer Deg. °
    Column 2 = % Salt by Weight
    Column 3 = Lbs. Salt Per Gal. Of Water
    Column 4 = Lbs. Salt Per Gallon Of Brine
    Column 5 = Lbs. Of Water Per Gallon of Brine

    0_____ 0.000_____ 0.000_____ 0.000_____ 8.328
    1_____ 0.264_____ 0.022_____ 0.022_____ 8.323
    2_____ 0.526_____ 0.044_____ 0.044_____ 8.317
    3_____ 0.792_____ 0.066_____ 0.066_____ 8.307
    4_____ 1.056_____ 0.089_____ 0.089_____ 8.298
    5_____ 1.320_____ 0.111_____ 0.111_____ 8.292
    6_____ 1.584_____ 0.134_____ 0.133_____ 8.286
    7_____ 1.848_____ 0.157_____ 0.156_____ 8.280
    8_____ 2.112_____ 0.180_____ 0.178_____ 8.274
    9_____ 2.376_____ 0.203_____ 0.201_____ 8.268
    10____ 2.640_____ 0.226_____ 0.224_____ 8.262
    11____ 2.903_____ 0.249_____ 0.247_____ 8.256
    12____ 3.167_____ 0.272_____ 0.270_____ 8.250
    13____ 3.431_____ 0.296_____ 0.293_____ 8.239
    14____ 3.695_____ 0.320_____ 0.316_____ 8.229
    15____ 3.959_____ 0.343_____ 0.339_____ 8.222
    16____ 4.223_____ 0.367_____ 0.362_____ 8.216
    17____ 4.487_____ 0.391_____ 0.386_____ 8.209
    18____ 4.751_____ 0.415_____ 0.409_____ 8.202
    19____ 5.015_____ 0.440_____ 0.433_____ 8.195
    20____ 5.279_____ 0.464_____ 0.456_____ 8.188
    21____ 5.543_____ 0.489_____ 0.480_____ 8.181
    22____ 5.807_____ 0.513_____ 0.504_____ 8.174
    23____ 6.071_____ 0.538_____ 0.528_____ 8.167
    24____ 6.335_____ 0.563_____ 0.552_____ 8.159
    25____ 6.599_____ 0.588_____ 0.576_____ 8.152
    26____ 6.863_____ 0.614_____ 0.600_____ 8.144
    27____ 7.127_____ 0.639_____ 0.624_____ 8.137
    28____ 7.391_____ 0.665_____ 0.649_____ 8.129
    29____ 7.655_____ 0.690_____ 0.673_____ 8.121
    30____ 7.919_____ 0.716_____ 0.698_____ 8.113
    31____ 8.162_____ 0.742_____ 0.722_____ 8.105
    32____ 8.446_____ 0.768_____ 0.747_____ 8.097
    33____ 8.710_____ 0.795_____ 0.772_____ 8.089
    34____ 8.974_____ 0.821_____ 0.797_____ 8.081
    35____ 9.238_____ 0.848_____ 0.822_____ 8.073
    36____ 9.502_____ 0.874_____ 0.847_____ 8.064
    37____ 9.766_____ 0.901_____ 0.872_____ 8.056
    38____ 10.030____ 0.928_____ 0.897_____ 8.047
    39____ 10.294____ 0.956_____ 0.922_____ 8.038
    40____ 10.558____ 0.983_____ 0.948_____ 8.030
    41____ 10.822____ 1.011_____ 0.973_____ 8.021
    42____ 11.086____ 1.038_____ 0.999_____ 8.012
    43____ 11.350____ 1.066_____ 1.025_____ 8.003
    44____ 11.614____ 1.094_____ 1.050_____ 7.994
    45____ 11.878____ 1.123_____ 1.076_____ 7.985
    46____ 12.142____ 1.151_____ 1.102_____ 7.975
    47____ 12.406____ 1.179_____ 1.128_____ 7.966
    48____ 12.670____ 1.208_____ 1.154_____ 7.957
    49____ 12.934____ 1.237_____ 1.181_____ 7.947
    50____ 13.198____ 1.266_____ 1.207_____ 7.937
    51____ 13.461____ 1.295_____ 1.233_____ 7.928
    52____ 13.725____ 1.325_____ 1.260_____ 7.918
    53____ 13.989____ 1.355_____ 1.286_____ 7.908
    54____ 14.253____ 1.384_____ 1.313_____ 7.898
    55____ 14.517____ 1.414_____ 1.340_____ 7.888
    56____ 14.781____ 1.444_____ 1.368_____ 7.878
    57____ 15.045____ 1.475_____ 1.393_____ 7.867
    58____ 15.309____ 1.505_____ 1.420_____ 7.857
    59____ 15.573____ 1.536_____ 1.447_____ 7.847
    60____ 15.837____ 1.567_____ 1.475_____ 7.836
    61____ 16.101____ 1.598_____ 1.502_____ 7.826
    62____ 16.365____ 1.630_____ 1.529_____ 7.815
    63____ 16.629____ 1.661_____ 1.557_____ 7.804
    64____ 16.893____ 1.693_____ 1.584_____ 7.793
    65____ 17.157____ 1.725_____ 1.612_____ 7.782
    66____ 17.421____ 1.757_____ 1.639_____ 7.771
    67____ 17.685____ 1.789_____ 1.668_____ 7.764
    68____ 17.949____ 1.822_____ 1.697_____ 7.756
    69____ 18.213____ 1.854_____ 1.725_____ 7.744
    70____ 18.477____ 1.887_____ 1.753_____ 7.733
    71____ 18.740____ 1.921_____ 1.781_____ 7.721
    72____ 19.004____ 1.954_____ 1.809_____ 7.710
    73____ 19.268____ 1.988_____ 1.837_____ 7.698
    74____ 19.532____ 2.021_____ 1.866_____ 7.686
    75____ 19.796____ 2.056_____ 1.895_____ 7.678
    76____ 20.060____ 2.090_____ 1.925_____ 7.669
    77____ 20.324____ 2.124_____ 1.953_____ 7.657
    78____ 20.588____ 2.159_____ 1.982_____ 7.645
    79____ 20.852____ 2.194_____ 2.011_____ 7.633
    80____ 21.116____ 2.229_____ 2.040_____ 7.621
    81____ 21.380____ 2.265_____ 2.069_____ 7.608
    82____ 21.644____ 2.300_____ 2.098_____ 7.596
    83____ 21.908____ 2.336_____ 2.128_____ 7.586
    84____ 22.172____ 2.372_____ 2.159_____ 7.577
    85____ 22.436____ 2.409_____ 2.188_____ 7.584
    86____ 22.700____ 2.446_____ 2.217_____ 7.551
    87____ 22.964____ 2.482_____ 2.248_____ 7.542
    88____ 23.228____ 2.520_____ 2.279_____ 7.532
    89____ 23.492____ 2.557_____ 2.309_____ 7.519
    90____ 23.756____ 2.595_____ 2.338_____ 7.505
    91____ 24.019____ 2.633_____ 2.368_____ 7.492
    92____ 24.283____ 2.671_____ 2.398_____ 7.479
    93____ 24.547____ 2.709_____ 2.430_____ 7.468
    94____ 24.811____ 2.748_____ 2.461_____ 7.458
    95____ 25.075____ 2.787_____ 2.491_____ 7.444
    96____ 25.339____ 2.826_____ 2.522_____ 7.430
    97____ 25.603____ 2.866_____ 2.552_____ 7.416
    98____ 25.867____ 2.908_____ 2.570_____ 7.409
    99____ 26.131____ 2.948_____ 2.616_____ 7.394
    99.6__ 26.289____ 2.970_____ 2.634_____ 7.385
    100___ 26.395____ 2.986_____ 2.647_____ 7.380

    A Summary:

    A BRINING solution is simply water with a specific amount of salt added to it to change the protein structure of meat. There is no “standard” strength, but some recommendations are made. Poultry brines seem to work best at about 20 degrees SAL. Red meats are usually brined in solutions much higher in saline concentration as high as 70 degrees SAL. Fish are sometimes brined for only an hour in a concentration of 80 degrees SAL.

    If a bird weighs more than three pounds, it should be PUMPED and BRINED to insure complete penetration and distribution before spoilage bacteria begin taking their toll. Ten to fifteen percent of the bird’s green weight is the amount of brine (in weight) to pump into the bird.

    For poultry, the FSIS recommends a brining solution of 5.55% or 21degrees on the salinometer scale. This solution is made using ¾ cup of salt added to a gallon of water. If you’re only making a quart of the stuff, just add 3 tablespoons of salt to a quart of water. This concentration is considered to be a “medium” concentration and it is very popular for poultry.

    Rytek Kutas used brine just a little stronger at 25 degrees SAL for poultry. This is a brine concentration of 6.5% and is made in larger volumes by adding 2 lbs. of salt to 5 gallons of water. He also added a pound of Cure #1, (making the brining solution a “curing solution”), along with 1.5 lbs. of powdered dextrose for flavor. The saline concentration in this brine is considered to be “medium high”.

    To shorten the time of brining, some people have used a 40 degree SAL brine solution of a salt concentration of 10.71%. This is a “high” concentration for poultry and the time in the brine should be limited to a matter of hours rather than days.

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  9. What is pH? 🙄

    In chemistry, potentiometric hydrogen ion concentration is abbreviated pH. What’s this?

    Now, I’m risking my reputation by even writing about this because my partner, El DuckO is a doctor of Chemical Engineering. He’s been retired for a couple of centuries, but he still has his credentials. I’m going to stab at this topic because, shucks pards, I “aced” college chemistry… mostly because I intimidated the teacher with my garlic jerky breath! One day, he said, “Well, I certainly hope you brought enough for everybody!”
    “Sure I did, pard”, I replied as I reached under my desk for a pillowcase full of the stuff. Then, as finals (tests) rolled around, I just rode my horse “B.D.” (Brain Damage), into the classroom after feeding him 3 hot “Mama Maria’s” chile burritos, five or six plums, a box of raisins, seven pickled eggs, and half a quart of whisky. I “parked” my beloved horse behind the teacher’s desk and threatened to pump his tail up and down until he “turned loose”, while the teacher filled out my report card.

    Uhhh… Roughly, pH is the measurement of acidity or alkalinity in any substance using a scale from zero to fourteen. Pure water is said to be very close to neutral, having a pH measurement of nearly 7.0 at 77° F. Foods with pH less than 7 are said to be acidic, while foods having a pH greater than 7 are said to be alkaline or “base”. Note that as we lower the pH factor, we increase acidity. Are microorganisms able to survive inside acidic foods? Not when the acidity is increased in a sausage by a drop below about 4 pH., depending upon the specific microorganism we are referring to. Some are more resilient than others.

    This hydrogen ion concentration represented on a chart, spans from 0 to 14 with the middle point (pH 7) being neutral (neither acidic nor basic). Again, any pH number greater than 7 is considered a base and any pH number less than 7 is considered an acid.

    Without being overly-complicated, suffice it to say that hydrogen ions are abbreviated with the chemical symbol H+ and in water (H2O), a small number of the molecules dissociate or “split up”. Some of the water molecules lose a hydrogen and become hydroxide ions (OH−). The “lost” hydrogen ions join up with water molecules to form hydronium ions (H3O+). For simplicity, hydronium ions are referred to as hydrogen ions H+. In pure water, there are an equal number of hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions and the solution is neither acidic nor basic.

    An acid is a substance that donates hydrogen ions. Because of this, when an acid is dissolved in water, the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions is shifted. Now there are more hydrogen ions than hydroxide ions in the solution. This kind of solution is acidic.

    A base is a substance that accepts hydrogen ions. When a base is dissolved in water, the balance between hydrogen ions and hydroxide ions shifts the opposite way. Because the base “soaks up” hydrogen ions, the result is a solution with more hydroxide ions than hydrogen ions. This kind of solution is alkaline.

    More About The “Scale”

    “The pH Logarithmic Scale”, is numbered from 0 to 14. To be precise, pH is the negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion concentration pH = −log [H+]. To a chemist, the square brackets around the H+ automatically mean “concentration”. Actually, a strongly acidic solution can have one hundred million million (100,000,000,000,000) times more hydrogen ions than a strongly basic solution! Conversely, of course, a strongly basic solution can have 100,000,000,000,000 times more hydroxide ions than a strongly acidic solution. Incredibly, the hydrogen ion and hydroxide ion concentrations in everyday solutions may vary over that entire range.

    Scientists have developed a logarithmic scale (the pH scale), so folks like me may understand more readily, how each one-unit change in the pH scale corresponds to a ten-fold change in hydrogen ion concentration. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14 with pure water represented in the middle as 7. The pH values lower than 7 are acidic, and pH values higher than 7 are alkaline (basic). With all the salt in the Great Salt Lake, its water is 10 on the scale.

    0… 10 000 000 battery acid
    1… 1 000 000 concentrated sulfuric acid
    2… 100 000 lemon juice, vinegar
    3… 10 000 orange juice, soda
    4… 1 000 tomato juice, acid rain
    5… 100 black coffee, bananas
    6… 10 urine, milk
    7… 1 pure water
    8… 0.1 sea water, eggs
    9… 0.01 baking soda
    10… 0.001 Great Salt Lake, milk of magnesia
    11… 0.000 1 ammonia solution
    12… 0.000 01 soapy water
    13… 0.000 001 bleach, oven cleaner
    14… 0.000 000 1 liquid drain cleaner

    * Note that as we lower the pH factor, we increase acidity.

    Why pH Is Important To Sausage Makers

    For the sausage-maker crafting “fermented” type sausage, a very effective means of reducing numbers of bacteria is to introduce them to an acidic environment. Are microorganisms able to survive inside acidic foods? Not when the acidity is increased in a sausage by a drop below about 4 pH., depending upon the specific bacterium we are referring to. Some are more resilient than others. Have you ever thought about just how many foods we preserve in vinegar? In preserving sausage, we simply introduce a lactic acid – producing bacteria such as lactobacillus or pediococcus. Of course, acidity affects flavor and the addition of an acid is not just a simple solution for every type of meat. Yet, without lactic acid – producing bacteria, we wouldn’t have wonderful, tangy, fermented type sausage. In instances where we are unable to introduce an acid such as vinegar, we must use another procedure which limits the available water supply to bacteria. More about limiting “available” moisture (Aw), later in this course.

    Testing pH Using Litmus Paper

    Home hobbyists, needing a convenient and inexpensive method of testing pH acidity in sausage, have found a product called “pHydrion Microfine Testing Strips”. The product is available from any pet store that sells fish or most sausage equipment suppliers for about $12.99 for a dispenser of 15 feet of litmus paper testing paper strips. The product is available in two ranges, first for testing acidity from 3.9 to 5.7 pH, and second, for testing acidity from 4.9 to 6.9 pH. Testing is done by color comparison and although the results may be less accurate than an electronic PawKit can provide, test strips are a bargain at about 6 cents per test!

    To test, mix 1 part chopped meat with 2 parts distilled water, tear off an inch of testing paper, dip it into the solution, and match it to the color chart on the side of the dispenser. No technical training required!

    Another method of testing acidity level in meat is to use an electronic Hanna pH test meter, available from Hanna Instruments in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. (www.hannainst.com/usa). I don’t know the current price of this item but you may view it by clicking on this link: http://www.eutechinst.com…tables/ph56.htm

    Best Wishes,
    Chuckwagon

  10. Soy Protein And NFDM powders

    Soy protein powders are added to sausage at only around 2%. Larger amounts will affect the taste and flavor of the product. Soy protein powders bind water extremely well and cover fat particles with fine emulsion. This prevents fats from lumping together and their ability to produce gel contributes to the increased firmness of the product. The sausage will be juicier, plumper and with less shriveling but the amount of added soy protein concentrate should not exceed 3% otherwise it may impart a “beany” flavor to the product.

    Soy protein isolate is a natural product that contains at least 90% protein and no other ingredients. Soy protein isolate is stronger and costlier of the two and can bind 5 parts of water.

    Soy protein concentrate, available from most online distributors of sausage making supplies is a natural product that contains 70% protein plus other ingredients, for example, ash and some fibers. It binds 4 parts of water and it improves the texture of the sausage.

    Non fat dry milk powder can bind water and is often used in making sausages, including fermented types. Dry milk powder contains 50% lactose (sugar) and is used in fermented sausages as a source of food for lactic acid producing bacteria. It also contains around 35% of protein, about 0.6 – 1% fat and may be considered a healthy high energy product. Dry milk powder greatly improves the taste of low fat sausages. Nonfat dry milk powder is a good natural product and it does not affect the flavor of the product. It is added at about 3% and effectively binds water and emulsifies fats. Its action is very similar to that of soy protein concentrate.

    Soy Protein Concentrate

    Today, soy protein is used in sausage making as a binder – not to be confused as a filler. As comminuted meat and fat particles are covered with the fine powder (having the consistency of corn starch), soy protein prevents fats from amalgamating and its water-holding ability only increases the firmness of a meat product. The amount added should not exceed 2-1/2% as the flavor of sausage becomes altered, most people calling it “beany” tasting.

    Soy protein has been around longer than most people think. In 1936 it was developed for use in fire extinguishers by the company that eventually became Kidde. The U.S. Navy called the foam product “bean soup” and used it to fight fires aboard ships throughout WWII as it was ideal for putting out gas and oil fires on aircraft carriers. In 1958, the Glidden Paint Company further tested the product and was the first to produce edible soy protein isolate in 1959. However, it wasn’t until 1987 that the product became a leading food additive as defatted soy flour was developed by a corporation named PTI. Later, DuPont Chemical (who owned Ralston-Purina), joined with General Mills creating the first marketed food-grade soy protein isolate. Not to be confused with soy protein concentrate or soy protein flour, the product known as soy protein isolate contains more than 90% protein and no other added ingredients. It is much stronger and more expensive than other soy protein powders. It binds 5 parts of water and is used in the food industry in other applications than in sausage making.

    Soy protein concentrate is produced by immobilizing soy globulin proteins while allowing soluble carbohydrates to be leached from the defatted flakes along with whey and salts. With these removed, soy protein flour remains. Now, there is a lot of technical saddle-bum science going on to further create edible soy protein concentrate. It involves the removal of specific aqueous acids in something called the isoelectric zone of minimum protein solubility . And no kidding… it is achieved by the use of… (ta da)… alcohol! When the science settles down, the consumer winds up with soy protein concentrate at about 70% protein… with other additives, including ash and fiber. Shucks, there’s even 1% oil in the stuff. It binds 4 part of water and it takes one ton of defatted soybean flour to make 1653 pounds of soy protein concentrate. The list for the uses for soy protein concentrate in every industry you can imagine today, is as long as El DuckO’s beak!

    In 1984, three years before “defatted soy flour” was developed by PTI, Rytek Kutas (referring to non-fat dry milk) wrote on page 159 of his “revised edition” book, “If you are going to use a non-fat dry milk for a binder, your local dairy is usually the only place you can buy it today. The milk has to be a very fine powder and not the granules used for making milk at home. Better still, it should have the consistency of corn starch.”

    Although it does not have quite the binding power of soy protein, non-fat dry milk powder is half lactose (sugar) and is often used in making fermented type “dry-cured” sausages such as salami and pepperoni. Why? It is ideal in supplying essential sugar to the lactic acid producing bacteria pediococcus acidilactici and lactobacillus curvatus. Although it is 35% protein, it is also known for improving the taste of low-fat sausages.

    I have heard of people buying grocery-store dry milk powder granules and pulverizing them inside a blender or food processor for use in prep-cooked-type sausages and semi-dry cured sausages. Many folks say they are not able to tell the difference. Personally, I’m not able to assess it because I am terribly allergic to lactose. However, you may choose it over soy protein. I just count myself lucky to be living in a time when modern science has developed a refined soy protein concentrate.

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