An appropriate opening for this blog. Yesterday I bought a pile of pork sides and a few metres of casings. I ground half of the meat finely and the other half coarsely and spiced them up in various ways. Today, I created 2 kg sausages, most of which were directly confined to the freezer for later feasts.
This is no mere doodling or petty re-enacting of the ways of the olden days. Just take a look at the package of the sausages in the shop. It is possibly for reasons of tradition that the various kinds of Swedish sausages contain potato flakes (what are “potatisflingor” in English??) and sometimes sugar. Up to this point, my astonishment is just a marker of cultural differences and not really a quality judgment, although I don’t feel that a product with a meat content of some 70% ought to be called a “sausage”. In Sweden this would be korv in any case, so I should be content. I am much more concerned about those ingredients that all the sausages of the world contain.
Nitrites etc.: Julia Child (In From Julia Child’s Kitchen, p. 363-4) gives a nice short overview about how harmful a bite of sausage preserved in the traditional way (with nitrates) is likely to be. Not all that harmful, according to her. So perhaps adding nitrites would not be a major concern (or would it?), but since I now can freeze my sausages, I believe I’m more comfortable with just: salt.
Taste enhancers: the niche literature about the bad effects of sodium glutamate abounds, and of course, the normal customer cannot make head or tail of all the partly conflicting information. Let’s ask another question: what in the world can, in a pork sausage containing, say, 30% fat and a bunch of spices, go so wrong that taste enhancers are necessary at all? There must be some cheating going on someplace. (more…)