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This group comprises meat mixes composed of finely comminuted, minced or sliced muscle meat, with varying quantities of animal fat adhering to the muscle meat or added separately. Flavouring is done by adding common salt and spices; curing is not practiced. In many products other non-meat ingredients are added in smaller quantities for improvement of flavour and binding, in low-cost versions larger quantities are added to extend the existing volume. The characteristic of this group is that all meat and non-meat ingredients are added fresh (raw), either refrigerated or non-refrigerated. The heat treatment (frying, cooking) is only applied immediately prior to consumption to make the products palatable (Fig. 139). In many instances, the consumer cooks the products prior to serving and products are consumed hot. Most of the fresh meat mixes are filled in casings, which defines such products as sausages. If other portioning is customary, the products are known as burgers, patties, kebab, etc.

Fig. 139: Frying sausages and burgers, fresh, above; fried immediately before consumption, below

Patties, Kebab, etc. (recipes page 390 – 392)

Patties are formed from minced meat usually in a disc-like shape with diameters of 80-150mm and 5-20mm height (Fig. 140, 411). In commercial fast-food outlets the common name is hamburgers or simply burgers. Originally, burgers were made from beef (preferably lean cow meat), but in recent years chicken and mutton burgers have become more common. Other animal tissues such as fats or connective tissue/tendons can also be part of the mixture, with quantities depending on the type and quality of the products. In industrial manufacture, these tissues could have been previously separated from the lean meat and are added again in defined quantities to ensure identical chemical composition (protein, fat, water) of all products. A common feature of burgers is that during mincing (1-3mm disc) and consecutive blending, salt and spices (mainly black and white pepper, in some instances also herbs, garlic or onions) are added. In some cheaper industrial formulations textured soy protein is commonly used as a non-meat ingredient in quantities up to 25%. Other non-meat ingredients suitable for this purpose could include rusk, breadcrumbs and dried flakes from roots and tubers (see also page 197 and recipes page 383, 392).

Burgers are stored frozen and individually pan-fried before consumption. Ideally, internal temperatures of 80°C should be reached to destroy food poisoning agents potentially present in the raw meat mixes (such as Listeria, Salmonella or E. coli O157H7, see page 357). Burgers are often served on bread rolls or buns with slices of cheese, mayonnaise, mustard, green salad, etc.

Step 2: Grinding/blending of burger mix

Step 3: Moulding burgers

Step 4: Frozen burgers

Step 5: Burgers fried for consumption

Fig. 140: Manufacture of burgers

The Kebab is a Middle East product, but popular in many places and usually eaten in pieces of flat white bread with yogurt sauce or sheep cheese. These preparations of kebab are also known by the name of doener or gyros. The term “kebab” refers to processed meat on skewers. Kebabs are usually made of sliced lean meat from veal, mutton or chicken or mixes of them. The lean meat has been marinated (mixture of salt, spices and oil) and the marinated meat pieces are arranged around a skewer bar. The usual quantity of meat on the skewer is 3-4 kg.

For preparing the product for consumption, the skewer is slowly rotated in a vertical position close to a source of heat. Traditionally glowing charcoal was positioned on the backside of the skewer in a metal basket. Nowadays gas elements, electro coils or infrared devices are used. The outside layers of the meat bulk, once they are sufficiently heated (slightly crispy), are carefully trimmed off as thin slices. In doing so, the deeper layers, which are still uncooked, will be exposed to the heat and trimmed off when cooked. The process is repeated until all meat has been trimmed off. A special kebab is produced using minced or finely comminuted meat mixes similar to patty mixes. This type of kebab must be heat treated (coagulated) prior to final roasting to make sure that the big chunk of meat firmly sticks to the vertical skewer and maintains its shape and position.

Fig. 141: Arranging meat slices on a kebab skewer and trimming off meat pieces from the skewer for consumption.
1 = Loading skewer with marinated meat slices
2 = Skewer ready for exposure to heat
3 = Skewer during heat treatment, fully cooked outer portions being trimmed off

a = heating device (charcoal, electric or gas)
b = slow rotation of skewer in front of heat source
c = plate with trimmed-off cooked meat pieces

Other varieties of kebabs are prepared in individual portions in fast-food outlets. These kebab types usually consist of fresh or marinated small meat dices or flakes on a skewer. Some variations can contain visible portions of vegetables (bell pepper, onions, etc) or even liver/kidney pieces. A typical marinated meat-only variety is the Greek souflaki containing veal or lamb meat which is marinated with lemon juice, herbs and garlic. Souflaki is grilled over charcoal. Another variety, where often vegetables and liver/kidney pieces are included, is known as shashlik. This type is briefly fried (browned) in little oil and simmered in a heavy sauce. These individually portioned kebab varieties are nowadays also available raw (fresh or frozen) as convenience products and prepared by customers at home.

Fig. 142: Shashlik, raw, ready for cooking, left and middle. Skewers contain lean pork and pork belly (left), some additional beef slices (middle). Cooked and ready for consumption (right)

Fresh sausages (recipes page 383 – 389)

Fresh sausages probably represent the oldest form of processed meat products. Their production could be carried out everywhere where animals were slaughtered, which produced both the meat and the casings. In the simplest way of manufacture, no tools other than knives are needed. Fresh meat and fat are mixed with salt and spices and stuffed into natural casings derived from small intestines of slaughter animals. Higher quality fresh sausages are primarily composed of lean meat and fat. In some low-cost formulations non-meat extenders are also used.

Fresh sausages products are well suited for small-scale meat processing outlets, as all ingredients including casings can be generated or procured locally. The manufacture can take place with basic meat processing tools and machinery (cutting board, knife, grinder, funnel or manual stuffer, see also page 244). These sausages do not undergo heat treatment at processor level, but are roasted, fried, boiled or otherwise heat treated before consumption upon demand by consumers or by consumers themselves.

Meat and non-meat ingredients

The animal tissues (meat and fat) used in fresh sausages can originate from different animal species (pigs, cattle, small ruminants, game, poultry, fish). The meat selection and lean/fat ratio vary, depending on cultural preferences and consumer expectations. Most fresh sausages are coarsely chopped products. Hence the lean meat should be free of tendons or hard connective tissue and only solid fats (beef body fat, pork back fat) should be used. The hard connective tissue would remain relatively tough in the ready-to-eat product and soft fatty tissues would make the product greasy. In addition, the fat content in the final product should not exceed 25%, as otherwise the shrinkage by melting fat during frying or cooking would be high.

In traditional recipes only common salt is used (10-15 g per kg raw material) as red cured meat colour is not required in these products. Hence curing salt is unnecessary. The most common spices used in fresh sausage production are pepper, mace, coriander, red chilli, cardamom, ginger and cumin. Depending on availability and desired flavour and taste smaller quantities of onions and/or garlic can also be added. Sausages composed primarily of meat and fat are “frying sausages” (Fig. 143), which are popular around the globe. Those made from beef or pork or containing mixtures of both are the best known.

Fig. 143: Fresh sausages in different casings being fried

Processing of higher quality fresh sausages

Raw fresh lean meat and fatty tissue are the main components of fresh sausages. Typical examples for this sausage type exist in all regions of the world. The most popular products are:

For the manufacture of coarsely chopped fresh sausages lean meat and fats are cut by hand into pieces (Fig. 144, step 1), mixed with salt, spices and other non-meat ingredients (step 2) and minced in a meat grinder (step 3), using a grinder disc with the desired size of disc perforations (4 to 6 mm).

Other types of fresh sausages are composed of finely chopped raw materials or a combination of coarse meat and finely chopped portions. In these variations additional ingredients such as eggs, milk, starches, etc. can be used, primarily to improve the binding of the final product. For the preparation of such finely chopped meat mixtures a bowl cutter is necessary (see Fig. 145, steps 1-4). The use of a bowl cutter also enables the incorporation of larger quantities of extender materials for low-cost recipes.

After grinding, the mixture is usually stuffed into thin or medium size calibre natural casings of the “edible” type (see page 251). These casings, derived from the small intestines of pigs or sheep, are either freshly prepared from local slaughter, or salted and stored until used (see page 251, 255). In any case, these fresh natural casings need to be rinsed with sufficient quantity of clean water before being used for stuffing (Fig. 144, step 4). The casings are filled almost to their maximum capacity (step 5) and thereafter divided into shorter units of the desired size by linking and twisting (step 6).

Natural casings can also be replaced by edible collagen casings of similar diameter. This allows for better standardisation of sausages and larger volumes of production (see chapter “casings” page 263). In the absence of casings the mixture can also be shaped into meat rolls (also known as skinless sausages), meat balls or burger patties. This is done either by hand or by using simple tools.

Fig. 144: Production steps for coarsely chopped fresh sausages

Step 1: Material composition
Left: back fat, middle: salt (above) and
spices (below), right: lean meat
with adhering fat and without
coarse connective tissue

Step 2: Mixing of ingredients

Step 3: Grinding
of mixture

Step 4: Casing
preparation (soaking
and rinsing natural
pig casings)

Step 5: Sausage stuffing (manual stuffer)

Step 6: Portioning and twisting

Step 7: Final fresh product

Fig. 145: Production steps for finely chopped fresh sausages

Step 1: Lean meat and ice are mixed

Step 2: Salt and spices are added

Step 3: Extenders are added

Step 4: Fatty tissue is incorporated

Step 5: After stuffing, the sausages are linked and twisted

Step 6: Packaging of fresh sausages in consumer portions (vacuum packs)

Storage and preparation for consumption

Fresh sausages are highly perishable products and subject to fast microbial spoilage and oxidative rancidity. They should be heat-treated and consumed as soon as possible after production, or must be stored immediately under refrigeration. Their maximum storage life is normally three days at +4°C or below. If the product is deep-frozen at -18°C, the storage life can be extended up to three months. However, one difficulty associated with frozen storage is the oxidative rancidity. Storage in vacuum bags can prevent the fast onset of rancidity.

Fig. 146: Production diagram of fresh coarse sausage

Processing of local low-cost fresh sausages

Low-cost variations of fresh sausages are widely available. In these variations, available vegetables and other fresh plant ingredients and their derivates (bell pepper, bread crumbs, soy concentrates/textured vegetable protein, potato, fresh cassava, dried cassava flakes, rusk, etc) are used as extenders. Small amounts of binders such as starches and flours are also common in some of the products. More details on extenders, fillers and binders see in Chapter “Non-meat ingredients” page 59.

In cases where smaller or larger quantities of fresh vegetables and other fresh plant ingredients are incorporated, special pre-treatment of these non-meat materials must be carried out. Onions and garlic must be thoroughly peeled; bell pepper must be washed and all seeds and stem parts must be removed; fresh cassava and potatoes must be washed and peeled. All components are cut into uniform small pieces and mixed with meat and spices. For a good degree of blending of such fresh plant/vegetable extenders the mixes containing all ingredients are minced 3-5 mm before stuffing them into available casings.

Fig. 147: Vegetable extenders and material mix

Step 1: Fresh extenders of plant origin: cassava, onions, garlic, bell pepper, potatoes, carrots (from left)

Step 2: Material mix with fresh extenders; left: lean meat with spices and salt, middle to right: garlic, bell pepper, cassava, carrots, onions

These low-cost variations vary widely in their composition but are easy to manufacture, even in basic kitchen-style facilities. Under such basic conditions, production should take place without delay after slaughtering and cutting. The produced goods should be cooked and consumed immediately or stored in chillers or freezers after stuffing. In general, products containing fresh extenders have a shorter storage life than products with derivate extenders. If natural casings derived from the same slaughtering are used for filling, they must also undergo rapid and hygienic processing (see page 252).

Fig. 148: Village manufacture of fresh beef sausages in East Africa

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