Safety question and GDL

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jens49
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Safety question and GDL

Post by jens49 » Fri Mar 17, 2017 08:17

Two questions
I know GDL is not a popular ingredient because it lowers pH very quickly and to a level that stops taste and aroma improving bacteria from doing their job. But what is the difference between a fast working starter culture eg. FLC and GDL? Doesn`t it also stop the good bacteria. Or are you supposed to use less dextrose to get less drop in pH? What if I used less GDL at 0.2 %? Mr Marianski says that would only give me a 0.2 drop in pH.

2. I read all over that I should go for a weight loss of about 35 % in sausages, salami etc. for reasons of safety. In Germany for example they seldom dry their Speck or Schinken more than maybe a month. They usually smoke I know but that probably doesn`t effect the interior of the meat.
Does a dried ham at some point go from "unsafe" to safe. Like wise could a salami be unsafe with a weight loss of eg. 10 % and then go on and become safe at WL 35 %?
TIA
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Post by Sleebus » Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:57

Less moisture = a less conducive environment for bacterial growth, and a longer life product. That's why meat was dried in the first place. I suspect the reason behind only drying for a month is because that costs less money than drying it for several months.

Wherever you're drying the product, that's a controlled environment. The object (in my opinion) is to get the meat down to the target WL as fast as possible without case hardening it. That gives any bacteria less time to spoil the product. If you only go down to 10% and then take it out, first it will feel a bit weird...it'll be too soft, and the flavors won't have concentrated. It'll eventually dry on its own, but will likely be more subject to spoilage, since it won't be in a proper environment.

Technically, once the meat's cured, you can eat it...but would you want to? :shock:
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Bob K
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Post by Bob K » Fri Mar 17, 2017 14:05

TIA-
jens49 wrote:But what is the difference between a fast working starter culture eg. FLC and GDL?
Really none. Depending on how they are used. When the Ph drops to 5.5 color fixing and flavor forming bacteria is slowed and below 5.0 it just about ceases to grow. GDL and if FLC is used as fast fermenting Culture the PH drop is rapid giving little time for them to work. Note also that FLC can be used as a traditional slow fermented culture at lower temps.
If you used GDL and are able to decrease the PH to only 5.3, the good bacteria will still work, but with no lag time they are still slowed.

Actually the Aw value and not the weight loss dictate the safety levels of bacterial growth, but for most of us weight loss is used as we can easily measure it. Even though there is no direct correlation, it does give us a good idea. Here is some great info posted by Butterbean:
http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.ph ... ight=value
For a dry cured ham it is weight loss + time. Different hams have different rules and you can read about them here: https://aglearn.usda.gov/customcontent/ ... 19.106.pdf

As far as the salami 35% weight loss will put you in the safe zone with margin to spare and it at that point that the texture becomes palatable for most...

Yes a salami could be unstable at 10% weight loss and stable at 35%. As long as good manufacturing processes were followed.

Hope that helped
Last edited by Bob K on Sat Mar 18, 2017 15:26, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Butterbean » Fri Mar 17, 2017 18:21

jens49 wrote:Does a dried ham at some point go from "unsafe" to safe. Like wise could a salami be unsafe with a weight loss of eg. 10 % and then go on and become safe at WL 35 %?
TIA
Good question and I've thought a lot on this and have come to this conclusion. I don't think it hits some magic threshold that makes it safe but it has to do with a lot of variables and then all of this also has to be weighed against possible and probable which I think is easy to lose sight of.

Take a ham, this is a whole muscle you are working with and theoretically speaking the inside of the ham should be sterile - with the exception of trichinosis and which is another thing altogether. With a ham, any pathogens should be on the outer portion of the ham where the cure is applied. This heavy salt and cure gradually enters the muscle which is "sterile". However, botulism was first found in hams. So whole muscles like pickled eggs need to be free of mechanical damage or punctures to insure the muscle wasn't injected with a pathogen. (This is the possible and probable scenario we need to keep in mind.) This is also why I think it important when curing hams to cure the ham with the foot on and if this is not possible you should inject cure along the bone. Not saying you have to I'm just saying this might be the best practice because it would be possible, however improbable, for a pathogen to be inside the ham.

In the case of comminuted sausages which are going to require a long process I think the game changes and the risk gets greater because we are mixing all this stuff together and we could be mixing pathogens. (Again, I think it important to weigh possible and probable.) This is why I think we focus so much on pH drop and this is all fine and good but I think this quick insurance also comes at a price in quality - or maybe I should say what is possible. Maybe not enough that most will ever notice but I do think it does come at a price.

Its my belief the best way to make communicated dried products is to chunk the meat up then add the salt and the cure to this meat and allow it to cure. I also believe for the best results are achieved when you use pure nitrate. This takes longer but the microbial action of the nitrate breaking down to nitrite during this process will create some nuances I don't think a fast cure is capable of producing. Also, like curing a ham, you are dealing with whole muscle cuts of meat which are "sterile" on the inside. Once cured and the meat is ground, mixed and stuffed I believe you have a safer foundation to work from than you might have had if everything was ground and mixed together. Not saying this is wrong just saying this way makes more sense to me and its the old way which I respect. In this method, a fast pH drop is not so critical and in doing it this way you can achieve aromas and flavors you wouldn't otherwise experience and drying is more a matter of making the product stable.

Technically, once the meat's cured, you can eat it...but would you want to?
You stepped on my toes here. :oops: I'm guilty. I do this on a regular basis but have never suffered any ill effects from doing it. The metamorphosis of aromas and flavors is fascinating to me and I find the transformation to intriguing not to sample it along its journey. One week it may smell like cheese, another it may smell of flowers or vanilla or some other beautiful aroma. Its amazing and I have to give it a taste to see what's going on. I once ate a whole stick weeks before it was ready and that consumed during that week was far superior in flavor than the finished product in my view. This may not be for everyone but I know my process and I feel very comfortable with it. The only thing I have concerns over are trichinosis and non pasteurized milk. The latter scares me the most.

IMO, its interesting stuff but what amazes me the most is how we can work with nature and her nitrogen cycle to make food safe while working with microorganisms to make foods taste great.
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Post by jens49 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 08:10

Thank you all for taking the time.

But I am still unclear of a (at least) a few things. Fast ferment takes maybe one to two days. Slow ferment maybe four. We want to ferment to perhaps 5.3 for old school salami. If I use the right amount of GDL (say 0.3 %) vs T-SPX and 0.3 % dextrose would not the result be the same? The good bacteria have the same "working conditions". Less maybe two days.
(Not taking into regard the added aroma and flavor creating bacteria from T-SPX)

When 35 % is considered safe and say 20 % unsafe is it because the bad bacteria have died? If it was unsafe at 20 % I assume it would be because the bacteria count was too high.
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:21

jens49 wrote:When 35 % is considered safe and say 20 % unsafe is it because the bad bacteria have died? If it was unsafe at 20 % I assume it would be because the bacteria count was too high.
Rather than use the words safe and unsafe I think your sentence would be more accurate if you replaced these with stable and unstable. Think about the fermented paste sausages that are never dried. When done right these are safe to eat.
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Post by Bob K » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:22

Lets say the staring Ph of your meat block is 5.7, most of the bacterial growth will take place in the time it takes for the ph to drop to 5.3, after that it is slowed. GDL will immediately drop the Ph leaving no lag time for the bacteria to grow.
The reason for using GDL or citric acid is to quickly get the sausage into the safety zone (fast fermented). You can also just not use any culture, which is the old school way.

No the bacteria have not died, they have stopped growing. The other safety hurdles you have used along the way keep them in check until that time. A product with an Aw value of <0.9 and a ph of < 5.3 is shelf stable
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Post by jens49 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 12:46

If the bacteria are not killed would there not be the same number as when the bacteria count was worst?
So if I had 10 x X bacteria when the weight loss was 20 % and they dont die wouldnt the number still be 10 x X when WL got to 35 %?
tu
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Post by Bob K » Sat Mar 18, 2017 13:09

Probably.
That is why it is so important to follow the safety rules to keep the growth of the bad bacteria in check. If the meat spoils before it reaches a stable condition (no further bacterial growth), it will still be spoiled. The damage has already been done.
Would you eat rancid meat, even after cooking which kills the bacteria?

This may help. http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/bacteria
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Post by Bob K » Sat Mar 18, 2017 15:00

Another way to understand this is that your sausage should never become "unsafe" throughout the whole process. It should be safe to consume at all times, as long as all safety criteria are met. Just drying the sausage to a 35% weight loss will not make it safe to consume if it has already gone bad.
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Post by Butterbean » Sat Mar 18, 2017 16:02

jens49 wrote:If the bacteria are not killed would there not be the same number as when the bacteria count was worst?
So if I had 10 x X bacteria when the weight loss was 20 % and they dont die wouldnt the number still be 10 x X when WL got to 35 %?
tu
I agree with Bob, they would probably still be there but just because they may be present doesn't mean they are a threat. Its the toxin that they can create which is the threat and is why starter cultures are so nice. With a starter culture the amount of cells of good bacteria in fermentation may be 100,000,000 cells per gram of meat and these good bacteria create bacteriocins which inhibit the bad bacteria. Consider Staph aureous. 1 in 3 people are infected with this and all it takes is rubbing your nose or touching your mouth and you will have infected the mince and it can grow at water levels below 0.90. Good hygiene and the use of a starter culture and the culture's bacterial exclusion makes the S. aureus impotent.

The key is hygiene and the use of good quality meat. Its really cool business because you are working with nature when you make fermented meats. First you are using the nitrogen cycle which is the backbone of life on earth to eliminate the threat of the botulism from creating its toxin and then you are cultivating good bacteria in your mince to create bacteriocins to keep any non-friendly bacteria from creating their toxins that would make you sick. In a way, your salami is a cultured environment filled with friendly life until the water is reduced to the point where their life ends.

Though its easy to focus simply on pH and think this is the only hurdle you need to concern yourself with but E. Coli can grow where the pH is less than 4.0 so this illustrates the importance of hygiene and the competitive exclusion.

I don't believe there is nothing wrong with using GDL and it would be a great tool for someone cranking out salami to sell but all things being equal I do not think it will make a safer salami just an inferior salami. Of course, most probably wouldn't care but I think if you give the good bacteria time to do their job in the end you will have a much better more flavorful product and it will be just as safe.
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Post by jens49 » Sat Mar 18, 2017 18:01

"Another way to understand this is that your sausage should never become "unsafe" throughout the whole process. It should be safe to consume at all times, as long as all safety criteria are met. Just drying the sausage to a 35% weight loss will not make it safe to consume if it has already gone bad."

THAT I can understand and appreciate the logic.
Also that with a low pH and Aw (WL) one could have a shelf stable product.
Actually I have never used GDL only T-SPX, FLC and have now just acquired some BLC 007.
Just interested in the theory behind the 35 % WL I see so many places. Especially seeing that we in Northern Europe seldom reach that WL. I think many like the taste of a more fresh salami over here.
Visiting Italy once or twice a year it is becoming more and more difficult to find real old school salami. Even in lots of the true Norcini shops you find salami with E 575 (Gdl) and a relatively soft consistency. Unfortunately.

May I thank you all for creating a great site.
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Post by redzed » Thu Mar 23, 2017 06:48

I've been off the radar for a few days and missed this discussion. I think there is a place in the meat industry for GDL, but not in dry cured products. GDL works well in fast acidification in cooked salami products, primarily to add the tang in the taste that is preferred in Northern European and American products. Long term dry cured products will never the funkiness and complexity of flavours if acidified quickly. The primary sources of flavour is the enzymatic activity of the micrococci bacteria (Staphylococcus), as they break down the bacteria. But the micrococci don't like acid, and cease activity once the pH drops to 5. And as Jens pointed out it is unfortunate that even Italian products have succumbed to the pressures of high profit margins by the large processors. It's just not the same thing.

The 35% loss in weight has become the benchmark for amateurs and small producers without a water activity measuring device, basically to be well on the side of safety. I stopped weighing my salami long ago. It's ready when it's ready. And that is also something that I noticed in my trips to Europe, many dry cured products are sold and consumed when they are quite young. Not surprising, as I really liked the flavour of the numerous saucisson sec I tried in France last year. They were still soft and pliable and only with a light mould cover. In North America, for some reason we seem to think that the salami needs to dry until it has the hardness of a baseball bat. :grin:

We had a couple of informative discussions on our forum about GDL, so those of you who are new can check them out here:
http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.ph ... hlight=gdl
http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.ph ... c&start=15
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