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Curing meat for sausage

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 01:03
by ssorllih
The book "Polish Sausages" states that in Poland, Russia and Germany all meat is cured before being made into sausage. But most all of the recipes that I read here add the salt and cure along with the herbs and spices after grinding and just before stuffing.
I am pretty sure that curing takes some amount of time and that the use of sodiun nitrite has purpose other than inhibiting C.Botullium.
I am very new to this business and there are others with decades of experience that I hope can expand and expound on this matter.

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 06:23
by JerBear
I know that the curing should take about a day or so under refrigeration. Nitrite, in addition to the Botulism inhibition, also adds a tang and coloration (for instance, it's what keeps corned beef pink after 8 hrs of poaching.

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 07:10
by Siara
In its simplest form the word `curing` means `saving` or `preserving` meat and the definition covers preservation processes such as: drying, salting and smoking. When applied to home made meat products, the term `curing` usually means `preserved with salt and nitrite.` When this term is applied to products made commercially it will mean that meats are prepared with salt, nitrite, ascorbates, erythorbates and dozens more chemicals that are pumped into the meat. Meat cured only with salt, will have a better flavor but will also develop an objectionable dark color. Factors that influence curing:

●The size of the meat - the larger meat the longer curing time.
●Temperature - higher temperature, faster curing.
●Moisture content of the meat.
●Salt concentration of dry mixture or wet curing solution-higher salt concentration, faster curing.
●Amount of fat-more fat in meat, slower curing.
●pH - a measure of the acid or alkaline level of the meat. (Lower pH-faster curing).
●The amount of Nitrate and reducing bacteria present in the meat.
Please read full article here:

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 13:31
by ssorllih
Thank you Siara. I have been reading the Book "Polish Sausages" and in that it is written that most sausage meat was cured before grinding under the old government rules.

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 19:11
by Siara
ssorllih wrote: and in that it is written that most sausage meat was cured before grinding under the old government rules.
And the question is: what is the old ...?

Posted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 20:49
by ssorllih
Before the Iron Curtain fell the Polish Government controlled the process for sausage making, according to the book. The established method was to apply cure before the meat was ground. The authors state that this step was taken with good reason because it improved quality. In most of the modern (post Iron Curtain) recipes cure#1 is added at the same time as the spice and herbs.
So The question is; does sodium nitrite effect a cure quickly enough to make it as effective at a late stage of addition as it would be if added before grinding and being allowed to react over night.

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:29
by Chuckwagon
Ross wrote:
So The question is; does sodium nitrite effect a cure quickly enough to make it as effective at a late stage of addition as it would be if added before grinding and being allowed to react over night.
Perhaps I can answer your question Ross. Yes, sodium nitrite can affect it quickly. Nitrite is almost instantaneous. Not so with nitrate.
The problem is getting the stuff into the depths of the meat. Take a Canadian Bacon (pork loin) for example. If you just brine it, after 4 days the center will still be pink. If you help it out with a hypodermic, it will turn to delicious ham in no time at all. Commercial producers use "gang needles" to inject nitrite and ship their product out the same day, having passed the curing requirements.
Didn't mean to butt in here but you need an answer to your question. Hope this helps.

Best Wishes,

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 13:15
by ssorllih
Thank you.

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 07:00
by Siara
ssorllih, Let me add to Chackwagon`s answer.
When you cure meat in big pieces, you should calculate 7 days for 1 inch of thickness.
Adding cure to grinded meat will affect it much faster.
Another reason of the difference mentioned by you is, that before the Iron Curtain we were using Sodium Nitrate.
This however need some time, before bacteria present in meat will turn sodium nitrate to sodium nitrite.
So, using sodium nitrite is much faster, and has some benefits.

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 12:56
by ssorllih
I understand then that when using sodium nitrite adding it to the mince at the same time as you add the salt and spice is just as effective as adding the salt and sodium nitrite 24 hours before the meats are ground. That makes the process faster without compromising quality.
Thank you

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 14:39
by Siara
ssorllih wrote:That makes the process faster
Yes :smile:
ssorllih wrote:without compromising quality
I would not say that. For sausages, I prefer 1-3 days dry curing.

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 17:09
by ssorllih
I continue to learn as I listen. Thank you. The proceedure I have been using is to cut the meat and fat ready for grinding and weighing them. Using that weight I calculate the salt and cure and add it to the meat a day or two before I grind. After I grind the meat and the fat I mix them and add the spice and herbs. Then I refrigerate over night to allow time for the flavor to develop and cook a taste sample before I stuff. This is a good method to continue? Yes?

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 18:02
by Siara
ssorllih wrote:This is a good method to continue? Yes?
Yes in general @ssorllih, it is a good method.
Just check the recipe , sometimes curing is 24 hours, sometimes more.

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 18:08
by ssorllih
Thank you, Siara

Posted: Thu Oct 27, 2011 11:16
by Chuckwagon
There are two very useful bacteria belonging to the micrococcaceae spp. (species) family that really earn their keep. These are staphylococcus carnosus and staphylococcus xylosus. Neither contributes to the fermentation process. However, both are responsible for reacting with nitrate to reduce to nitrite. When this happens, some of the nitrite when exposed to oxygen, will actually create "new" nitrate. This nitrate is also reduced to nitrite by the same bacteria. As the reaction continues, nitric oxide is produced (not to be confused with nitrous oxide - a gas). Nitric oxide is the substance that actually prevents clostridium botulinum from developing its deadly toxic spores. In other words, it is nitric oxide that "cures" the meat. If you want to know how that happens, you`ll have to study "free radicals" and radical chemistry. :lol: Much too complicated to explain here. Anyway, staphylococci are more salt tolerant than micrococci. Both are anaerobic and both possess the nitrate reductase enzyme called catalase (protects against oxygen and delays the rancidity of fat). By the way, staphylococci also contribute to proteolytic (protein) break down into free amino acids, and lipolytic (fat) break down into free fatty acids.

When nitric oxide is "finally" formed by the reaction of staphylococcus bacterium with sodium nitrate, following the reduction to sodium nitrite, the process of "curing" meat becomes immediate. The problem we face is in the TIME it takes for COMPLETE PENETRATION. Let`s take a look at Stanley Marianski`s words on page 30 of his book, "Home Production Of Quality Meats And Sausages". He states:

"The use of nitrate is going out of fashion because it is difficult to control the curing process. By adding sodium nitrite directly to meat, we eliminate the risk of having an insufficient number of bacteria and we can cure meats faster and at lower temperatures. Sodium nitrite does not depend on bacteria, it works immediately and at refrigerator temperatures. At higher temperatures it will works even faster."

Ross, the really cool thing is that when staphylococcus carnosus and staphylococcus xylosus reduce nitrate to nitrite, the new nitrite reacts with myoglobin, a protein that binds oxygen and iron, found in the muscles of mammals. You`ve heard about myoglobin. It`s the protein that forms pigments in raw (red) meat (iron atom[+2]oxygen spp.). When you slap a steak in a skillet and cook it, your favorite ribeye turns brown because it loses one electron (+3 oxidation state). Anyway, if the meat has been treated with nitric oxide, it will remain pink because the iron atom is bound to nitric oxide (NO). Sound familiar? This is why your brined-smoked turkey remains pink even though it is completely cooked. And what about your favorite corned beef? Just like ham... it remains pink throughout the cooking procedure.

Now, don`t get me wrong ol` pard. Siara is absolutely right about the curing length. His recommendations of 7 days per 1 inch of thickness certainly hold true. I support his comments completely. My point is that if we could somehow get nitrite to penetrate meat faster than the rate of absorption, the process of curing meat would be shortened even more. Personally, I believe that man will someday achieve this level of discovery and intelligence.

Best Wishes,