Making Healthy Sausages – Lowering Calories and Cholesterol
Sausages can be made healthy by eliminating animal fat which lowers calories and cholesterol. This innovative approach to traditional sausage making requires a new method of thinking – the sausage is not just seasoned hamburger meat that is stuffed into a casing, but becomes a “packaged” product where meat is just one of many ingredients.
Sausages are very nutritional products, but they can hardly be considered a healthy item. The traditional formulas call for about 70% lean meat and 30% fat. This ratio allows you to produce a sausage with a superior taste and texture. Totally eliminating fat will result in a sausage that has:
1. Poor texture and the slice will not hold its own. It will crumble and the sausage will resemble a pile of bread crumbs.
2. Dry taste. The fat provides this rich creamy mouthfeel which is associated with high quality products.
However, this pleasant feeling comes at a price: 1 g of fat provides a whopping 9 calories. For comparison, 1 g of carbohydrates (sugars) provides 6 calories. This is much less, unfortunately we consume sweets, soda, ice cream, candy, cakes etc., all the time.
Nevertheless, sausages contain animal fat which is rich in cholesterol. This is a bad saturated fat that people with cardiovascular problems must avoid. The easiest solution is to use only lean meat, but add 5-10% of vegetable oil. Although 1 g of oil also contains 9 calories, it is a healthy oil with no cholesterol. This is the simplest approach that creates a much healthier sausage
The second method in addition to eliminating the animal fat, introduces different filler materials that will be mixed with ground meat. Filler materials have been used for centuries, for example barley or buckwheat oats are added to Polish blood sausages, potatoes are added to Swedish sausages, the English like adding rusk (milled baked flour) and oats. Rice, bread crumbs, and flour are more examples. By adding a filler material we decrease the amount of meat and create a healthier product.
The third method will be to add ingredients which are capable of binding and holding a large amount of water. Soy protein isolates and concentrates, flours and starches, gums and other hydrocolloids not only improve the texture of the sausage, but also can bind large quantities of added water. This further changes the proportions of materials as even less meat is introduced. It must be noted that these are naturally manufactured products that are derived from seaweeds, grains, tubers or trees.
Then there are more sophisticated methods such as adding commercially produced fat replacers that can cheat our senses and fool us into accepting a product which has been made without fat. A sausage made of lean meat can taste like a regular product, even if no fat or vegetable oil was added. This technology has been applied for long time for making low fat ice cream, yogurt, sour cream, salad dressings, chewing gums, potato chips, candies and many other items.