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Seasonings are normally parts of plants which flavour food. The trade in and the processing of spices has developed into an important support industry for food processing enterprises in order to meet consumer preferences. Mixtures of seasonings were developed in order to serve as flavouring agents for various meat products. Natural spices, herbs and vegetable bulbs are the main groups of seasonings and are described hereunder.

Natural spices

The term “natural spices” includes dried rootstocks, barks, flowers or their parts and fruits or seeds of different plants. The most important natural spices used in processed meat products are pepper, paprika, nutmeg, mace, cloves, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, chilli, coriander, cumin and pimento. The most common natural spice in sausage making is pepper. Spices are mainly used in the ground form with particle sizes from 0.1 to 1 mm.

Fig. 113: Origin of natural spices


Herbs are dried leaves of plants grown in temperate climates. The major herbs used in processed meat products are basil, celery, marjoram, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Vegetable bulbs

The main natural seasonings originating from vegetable bulbs and used in processed meat products are onions and garlic.


Natural spices are often contaminated with high numbers of microorganisms, in particular spores, due to their production process. This may become a problem for the stability of the meat products. The microbial load of spices can be reduced by irradiation or fumigation. Such treatments are not allowed everywhere. Another option is the use of spices extracts. Extracts are produced by separating the flavour-intensive fractions through physico-chemical procedures (e.g. steam distillation) which results in germ-free flavouring substances. Extracts are preferably used in viscous liquid or oily form. Due to the absence of microorganisms, extracts are specifically recommended for the production of microbiologically sensitive processed meat products, such as cured-cooked hams or cured-cooked beef cuts.

Procession and handling

Most spices used in meat processing are milled or ground. The milling method used affects the quality of the spices. Spices are normally cold-milled at low temperatures. The raw spices are deep-frozen thus avoiding the loss of oleoresins, aqua-resins and essential oils, which are the active flavour components.

Table 3: Common Seasonings used in processed meats

Description and origin

(in gram per 1 kilo of product)




Black/white pepper

Fruits seed

Used in a variety (almost all) meat products

1–2.5 g / 1 kg.


Paprika (Fruit seed)

Used in frankfurters, minced specialties and other products. Sometimes used as a colouring agent. 1-5 g / 1 kg.


Chilli (Fruit seed)

For spicy products


Pimento (Fruit seed)

It has an aroma similar to a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Used in a variety of sausage products. Sometimes used as a partial replacement for black pepper in frankfurters and some smoked products. 0.3-3.0 g / kg


Mace (Flower)

Used in liver sausages, frankfurters and bologna and similar. 0.4-1.0 g / kg


Ginger (Rhizome) (Root)

Used in frankfurters and similar products. 0.3-0.5 g / kg


Nutmeg (Fruit seed)

Used in bologna and minced ham sausages, frankfurters, liver sausage and gelatinous meat mixes. 0.3-1.0 g / kg


Clove (Flower)

Used in bologna, gelatinous meat mixes and in blood and liver sausage. 0.3-0.5 g / kg


Cinnamon (Bark)

Astringent and sweet, used in some countries in mortadella and bologna sausage. 0.1-0.2 g / kg





Rapid loss of aromatic constituents during storage. Used in liver sausage and gelatinous meat mixes. 0.3-5.0 g / kg


Celery seed

Used in fresh pork sausages. 0.3-2.0 g / kg


Coriander seed

Contains about 13% of fatty matter and a trace of tannin. It is used in frankfurters, minced ham, luncheon meat. 0.3-1.0 g / kg



Used for meat specialties with distinct flavour.

0.2-0.3 g / kg






Used in liver and white raw-cooked sausages and gelatinous meat mixes. 0.5-2.0 g / kg




Onion (Bulb)

Used in liver sausage, gelatinous meat mixes, meat loaves. Sometimes replace garlic.

2.0-10.0 g / kg


Garlic (Bulb)

Used in many types of raw-cooked sausages. 0.1-0.2 g /kg

Fig. 114: Selected seasonings used in meat processing

White, black and green peppercorns

Ground coriander and coriander seeds

Ground and whole nutmed

Ground mace and blades

Ground allspice and allspice berries

Cinnamon stick, quills and ground

Cayenne pepper

Whole and ground cloves

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