Wanting to know how the sausage is made
If you have been reading TOP’s newsletter regularly, your already know that developing meat analogue recipes for products to be cooked, baked or grilled has been part of our regular daily business for quite some time now. Our food technologists have learned a lot about the different product properties that these products need to have. That is not to say that every new development brings its own new challenges and that our developers gain new insights every day. New product development may seem straightforward and down to earth, but it actually is anything but. Getting all components, ingredients and processing conditions right to achieve an optimal end result is far from self-evident. Every product has its own unique characteristics in looks, texture, flavour and preparations (both in manufacturing and in preparation by the final consumer).
A product category where this is absolutely vital is the growing segment of plant-based sausages. Whilst one sausage is consumed warm by the consumer, the other is consumed cold, and whilst one has a coarse structure with several visual and textural components, another is completely homogenous, with an overall smooth look and feel. One component of sausages that plays a key role in both texture and processing of the product is a (lack of) casing of a sausage.
A casing, when present, gives the consumer the first look and tactile feedback of a product, or may not be there at all when the consumer handles the product. Some casings may me edible, whilst others are not and have to be removed before consumption. Moreover, edible casings of course have a major impact on the mouthfeel of the product during consumption, with some casings lending a significant bite to a sausage, whilst other are just meant to keep the contents of the sausage together without imparting too much of a sensory cue to the product (this is of course also vastly different in original meat sausages, compare for instance the original Frankfurter to the modern Dutch “Knakworst”).
One way or another, casings have a significant part to play when the sausage is made, as a processing aid in shaping, speeding up and enhancing throughput and moisture retention, both during processing and during product storage. Plus, a clean casing can provide an extra hurdle in preventing microbial contamination, whilst a contaminated casing can immensely speed up product spoilage. Choosing the right casing for a sausage is therefore on the one hand hugely influenced by consumer-and client preferences, but is on the other hand also affected by the necessary processing conditions and technical restraints to create a stable, desirable product. It is thus not surprising, that these decisions have to be made on a case-by case basis.
Developing a healthy, tasty AND practical plant-based sausage is a true balancing act, involving product developers, process technologists, clients and consumers. TOP has all the necessary tools available to produce a wide variety of sausages, for either warm consumption or cold, emulsified or coarse, with edible casing or without, fermented or not, dried or with high moisture content, etc. Now you know a little more about how the sausage is made. Would like to know even more? Get in touch with us at !