About vegetarian sausage
Sausage is the most beloved and consumed product by Russians, alas. Alas, because it is impossible to attribute traditional sausage to healthy food products to any degree. Nevertheless, the consumption of sausages is huge, these are everyday products, so if you can’t completely refuse their consumption, then at least limit them by learning more about them (from which and how they are produced) and take your choice consciously. Better yet, try replacing ordinary meat sausage with vegetarian, which is fundamentally different from meat sausage in the absence of harmful fats, food waste and harmful additives.
A competent consumer should know how and from which ordinary sausage is made. Since meat sausage is made from minced meat, any food ingredients can potentially be brought into its composition, which is why the production of sausages is the main way to reduce food industry waste.
Reducing waste in order to expand the raw material base for food production is the most real and simple way to increase the productivity of food production. This path involves a more complete and rational use of all components of animal raw materials. What are these components that were previously used sparingly or used for feed purposes? This is primarily all categories of offal – meat, meat and bone, mucous, wool (these are the internal organs of animals, heads, legs, tails, lips, ears, udders, genitals, stripes of skins, blood, as well as protein stabilizers obtained from skins, veins and tendons). We learned to use not only meat and bone raw materials, but also large bones – part in the form of bone meal, and part after maceration – washing out calcium salts from bones with hydrochloric acid for 5-7 days to obtain a relatively soft mass of collagen. Separately, it should be said about blood – they learned to use it both in its entirety and after removal of hemoglobin, concentrating plasma proteins by membrane methods, followed by drying. Such a protein filler is also obtained from whey, which was previously poured into the sewer. It should be noted that it was the reduction of waste and loss of animal raw materials that allowed in the second half of the twentieth century to increase food resources by three times. However, further prospects for increasing the production of animal protein in accordance with the growth of the population of our planet are very limited, therefore vegetable proteins will inevitably become the main source of dietary protein in the 21st century. And yet, the conscious transition of most of humanity to vegetarian food is still a long way off.
So, all of the unattractive raw materials listed above can only be used as an additive in minced meat products based on not the best meat (the best parts of carcasses are directly sold as natural meat or for the production of meat delicacies). Stuffing can be mixed, add fatty raw materials, spices, flavor enhancers, soot, cook and get a perfectly acceptable product. So this is sausage – ready-to-eat minced meat mixed with spices, salt and fat and pressed in the gut or its artificial substitutes. In the production of sausages, all categories of soft and hard animal raw materials listed above are used, as well as various food ingredients – protein stabilizers based on dairy products and animal blood plasma, textures, concentrates and isolates of soy protein, wheat protein isolate, cheap flour products (mainly starch and wheat flour), various polysaccharides (carrageenan, etc.), stabilizers, thickeners and all types of fatty raw materials. Preservatives, phosphates, dyes, flavoring agents and fillers are also used (about 400 items are included in the list of food additives allowed today in Russia).
Of all the additives, special mention should be made of the most important one, which is invariably used in the production of any meat sausages. This is sodium nitrite (E-250 additive) – the sodium salt of nitrous acid, called in the formulations a modest “curing ingredient”, which helps to maintain a pleasant light pink color of sausage, and also prevents the oxidation of fats and bacterial spoilage, that is, it is both good preservative. The fact is that in the process of processing minced meat acquires an earthy gray color due to the destruction of hemoglobin – an iron-containing blood protein that gives it a red color. So it is sodium nitrite that forms a complex with hemoglobin, not allowing it to break down during the technological processing of meat, and thus preserves the desired pink color of the sausage. Everything seems to be simple, and this additive is allowed, and has long been used in sausage production in small harmless concentrations, and no effective replacement has yet been found. However, sodium nitrite reacts with the amino acids of the protein when heated (and this happens in the production of all sausages, without exception) with the formation of nitrosamines.