What is "Semi-Dry Cured" Sausage?
Depending on the amount of moisture that they contain, sausages are grouped as:
- 10% weight loss
- 20% weight loss
- 30% weight loss
Semi-dry cured sausage may be made with or without cultures and may or may not be pre-cooked. However, due to modern health concerns, it is recommended that all semi-dry cured sausages be par-cooked. Commercially
, this application is now required
Semi-dry cured sausage is usually cured by fermenting the sausage at least 48 hours rendering an acidic content of pH 5.2 or lower, then by drying it to a point below Aw 0.89 or lower. This type of sausage is normally cured using Cure #1 (nitrite) as reservoirs of nitrate are not needed in short-term fermentation.
Refrigerated "fresh" sausages must be used up within three days or frozen for use later. If the same sausage however, contains a prescribed amount of sodium nitrite and is smoke-cooked, it becomes a delicious "smoke-cooked" type sausage. Can this sausage be further preserved?
1. What if we "bumped up" the sausage a little, by quickly fermenting it - that is, BY USING A PRELIMINARY CURING STEP in traditionally-made (no culture used) sausages, OR by using a culture to drop the pH level to 5.3 or less.
2. What if we "bumped up" the sausage a little, by drying it to a point below Aw 0.85, where most bacteria no longer had an effect upon it?
We could then store it at around 45°; F. in 75% humidity and the sausage would be "ready to eat" for an extended period of time.
Unlike dry-cured sausages, the semi-dry variety is usually pre-cooked and par-cooked to about 140°F. after fermenting and smoking have taken place.
By reaching and surpassing the temperature of 138° F., the threat of trichinella spiralis
is eliminated. Often this cooking step is accomplished while the smoking is being done.
Great idea eh? The sausage we are talking about has been prep-cooked to destroy any possible trichinella spiralis
, and it has been cured with nitrite to prevent the development of any possible clostridium botulinum
. The drawback is a loss of 20% of its original weight. (In fully dry-cured the loss is nearly 35% of its original weight). On the other hand, we would have the ultimate snack stick to take along hunting or hiking for a quick, lightweight, high-protein bite to eat. It surely beats high-sugar or high-carbohydrate snacks or candy. Sure, it would probably develop a little "white" mold, but we could always safely wipe it off before eating it. Better yet, we could prolong its preservation by vacuum-packing it in plastic or glass and not have to even worry about mold.
Semi-dry cured sausages are usually ground a little more coarsely and are made safe by an acidification level reaching pH 5.3 (or less) as mentioned. If a "fast" culture such as LHP is used, this may be accomplished in as little as two days. A "medium" culture such as F-RM-52 requires about 4 days. If these quick-acting cultures are used, it should be understood that the sausage will be "tangy" as staphylococcus and micrococcus "flavor and color-forming" bacteria simply do not have time to develop. The recipe for this type of sausage will almost always contain some additional sugar for the lactic acid bacteria to work on quickly to more effectively raise the acidity. Applying smoke during the fermentation stage is not recommended as smoke contains substances which may impede reactions between meat and beneficial bacteria, especially in the surface area.
Note: Some old recipes have no requirements for cooking semi-dry cured sausage. If no heat treatment is planned in making a semi-dry cured sausage, it is now recommended that home sausage makers use a culture. Commercial suppliers are now being required to cook semi-dry cured products until the internal meat temperature reaches 160°F. This cooking step provides additional safety in sausage production whether the meat is smoked or not.
Before starter cultures were widely available to hobbyist home sausage makers, it was not uncommon to see "semi-dry cured" sausages made without prep-cooking. Today, the cooking step is strongly recommended as an additional measure of safety.
Depending upon the type of sausage being made, the temperature may be boosted as high as 115°F., the humidity elevated to 95%, with an air exchange speed of about two miles per hour (0.8 m per sec.) as fermentation begins inside a special variable "fermentation chamber". Several hours later, these conditions have normally decreased substantially. We may say that fermentation is the controlled production of lactic acid under conditions of consistently monitored and frequently adjusted humidity, temperature, and air flow. Until the fermentation process begins, the only protection against pathogenic bacteria is the sausage`s salt content, the addition of nitrite, and the initially low bacteria count of the meat. Following 48 hours of fermentation, the sugar-fed lactobacilli
have usually metabolized enough sugar to produce a sufficient quantity of lactic acid to render the sausage safely acidic.
For a discussion about using Cure #1 in an LHP cured product, see this link:
http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.ph ... ht=project