BL Medien

For a longer shelf life

Date 01.27.2014 | Category: Special Topics
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The storage stability of sausages plays an important role for modern channels of distribution. There are two alternatives for the prevention of spoilage by germs in sausages stored whole.

The first alternative which comes to mind spontaneously is contamination by insufficiently destroyed or restricted germs on the inside of the sausage. The prevention of this is a major part of the recipe and the processing of the sausage. The second manner of contamination is via the surface of the sausage. We shall take a number of different examples and discuss the strategies employed to prevent this spoilage of the surface, taking into consideration the advantages and, where they exist, also the disadvantages of the strategies employed.


Raw sausages

Let's start with the complex area of raw sausages. The outside casing of raw sausages is a great breeding ground for all types of contamination which can affect the sausage during the various stages of the maturing and storage processes of the sausage. Used well, mould-matured sausages such as those popular in Southern Europe are the result. However, the presence of germs on of the surface of raw sausages is not always popular - yeasts and undesired moulds in particular must be kept away from the sausage.


Why fight against surface films?

There are two main reasons behind this: the brine colouring nitrogen oxide myoglobin is relatively stable in normal raw sausage environments, as the drying out and maturing of the sausages is associated with protein denaturation and the brine colouring is more or less fixed and therefore less sensitive to defects. However, less sensitive does not mean indestructible! In particular, peroxides released from the metabolism of unwanted bacteria and also fat breakdown products can destroy the brine colouring. The sausage turns grey (greyish-brown) and tastes unexpectedly prematurely rancid. The perfidious thing about fat spoilage of sausages is that it spreads like wildfire throughout the whole sausage - the so-called domino effect. From a microbiological point of view, yeasts must be carefully observed. They establish themselves on or in the sausages via the air, ingredients or via machinery. It goes without saying that a strict hygiene concept for production and maturing areas and a practical surface treatment of the sausages offer protection from this type of contamination.


Potassium sorbate

A classic agent for the treatment of the surface of raw sausages is potassium sorbate. The chemical composition of the potassium salt of the sorbic acid is very similar to sausage fat and therefore also susceptible to the breakdown process similar to becoming rancid. A chain reaction can therefore be kick-started by sorbate which is usually accompanied by greying and rancidness of the surface layers of the treated sausages. Any sausages treated with sorbate and sold loosely must be labelled with the following: "Surface treated with sorbate". This is included in the list of ingredients of self-service sausage products treated with sorbate. Various sorbate preparations are available from appropriate suppliers.

One should generally avoid liquid sorbate products, as they could have the problems associated with stability mentioned above. Alongside pure potassium sorbate, some manufacturers also offer mixed products with sodium acetate. The practicality of these mixtures is disputable; at least the use of materials is reduced for the mixer. Potassium sorbate can only take place once the maturing process has been completed. The reddening process of the sausage must already be stable, otherwise serious defects in the colouring of the sausage must be expected. Depending on the preparation, a 10-20% solution is made with pure drinking water. The sausages can be immersed into this solution or they can be sprayed using a spraying device available in DIY stores. Even once the sausage has been treated with potassium sorbate, a new case of contamination of the surface can occur if the sausage is stored in unfavourable conditions.


Culinary acids

The idea of the risk of fat breakdown quickly makes you consider alternatives to potassium sorbate. Immersing or spraying raw sausages with culinary acids is a long-established alternative to surface treatment with potassium sorbate. This immersion with culinary acids has the advantage that it is a method of treating the surface of raw sausages and raw ham without it having to be identified on the packaging. In comparison to sorbate, culinary acids do not have any negative effects on the colour and flavour of the treated products. Lactic acids and acetic acids are generally used for the surface treatment of sausages. Alongside mono-preparations, there are combined products available on the market which include both acids but also acids with tartaric acid and citric acid.

Culinary acids are well known for their synergy effects when used in the correct combinations: the effect of the mixture is greater than the expected individual effects of the added ingredients. Relevant manufacturers offer the appropriate preparations in concentrated forms. You can attain the optimum effect for raw sausages by immersing the sausage into a culinary acid solution for 3-5 minutes directly after filling, and then hang it up whilst still wet without any further treatment. The dosage depends on the preparation employed / the mixture used and in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. This acid treatment ensures the least possible amount of germs in the casing right from the start. The casing therefore remains significantly more breathable, helping to prevent drying errors. Immersion also enhances the removability of the sausage casing, making handling significantly easier during selling. The flaw in the treatment with culinary acids is the nature of the acids. They are applied to the surface of the sausage in a concentrated form, destroy that which needs destroying, then bond with the sausage. This means that there is no agent present to defend the sausage from new cases of contamination once the effective surface treatment has been completed.

Two other factors play an important role in production: the first one is the correct selection of raw sausage casings. Without pointing out any preferences here, a comparison test between different types of sausage casings can result in astounding differences.

The second factor is the smoking of sausages. This involves stabilising the surface via gentle yet sustained smoking without changing the desired flavour into an unwanted flavour. Natamycin The disadvantage of sorbate and culinary acids is that they have a relatively moderate effect and these effects are limited in time. As an alternative, the authorised yet disputed natamycin, which has an antibiotic effect, can be used. Various manufacturers offer ready-to-use immersion masses for this purpose.


Protective cultures

None of the starter cultures has succeeded in developing a surface-effective protective culture which copes with the uneconomical raw sausage skin. There are actually some fairly effective protective starter cultures for raw sausages: carefully selected and enriched commercial mould cultures which then set off the good moulds against the bad ones. The manufacturers of cultures promise a velvety white, typical sausage surface, complete development of the flavour, lower weight losses during maturing and protection from the mycotoxin formation of unwanted mould.

The mould cultures are placed in water according to the manufacturer's instructions and, following an appropriate regeneration period, the sausages can be immersed into the solution directly after filling or they can be spray-treated.


Author: ast
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