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    Deli Meats Deli Meat: 202 Additives For Homemade Deli Meats

    Attend this Intermediate-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Cold Phosphate Binders Sodium Lactate Phosphates

    In Deli Meats 103 we went over some common additives that are used in commercially processed Deli Meats, most of them are harmless and are aimed at increasing the freshness of the meat, the shelf life, taste and appearance. However, most of these items are not things you are going to have in your home, or have easy access to. However, there are a few additives that are easily available and will give you a nice reformed deli meat that can be sliced almost as thin as a true deli.

    It doesn’t matter if you are making homemade deli meats or buying it from the store, some sort of phosphates will almost certainly be present. The phosphates raise the pH of the meat and allow it to hold more water. Commercial processors do this because a) water is much cheaper than meat and b) consumers want cuts of meat that are juicier. We recommend you use Cold Phosphate as this will dissolve easier in cold water than some other types. An important note on phosphates is that if you are injecting it you need to mix this in first so it can suspend in the water. I’d recommend you add phosphates to any deli meat you are making but it is especially important when making low fat deli cuts.


    Binders, especially in low fat cuts, are going to be very key here when making a reformed cut of deli meat. Without it you will have a hard time getting everything to stick together tight enough to let you slice it deli thin without it crumbling. Carrot Fiber isn’t a traditional binder but it holds 26 times it’s weight in water so it can help with a juiciness, if you are going to use carrot fiber, like I do in future videos, is to use it in conjunction with cold phosphate. Super Bind is going to give you carrot fiber and potato starch, so you get the best of the carrot fiber plus the potato starch forms a gel at the same temp as the meat really starts to expel water. The only problem with this is that in a homemade deli you are going to have some voids in your meat. Having no voids with a hand crank stuffer is extremely difficult and those voids will be filled with this gel. It can be very unappealing. Sure Gel or Soy protein blend can also be good choices.

    Sodium Lactate

    Sodium Lactate is used by commercial processors to extend the shelf-life of meat products. It is sometimes used as a powder but is most often used in its liquid form. It increases the shelf life of meat products by regulating the pH of food and reduces the effects of bacteria spoilage. In its liquid form you would use it at a rate of 1.5% of your meat block, so for a 25 lb batch you would use .375 of a lb. As we sell it in gallons you can see that it would last you a long time.

    Sodium Nitrite & Sure Cure

    Another option for deli meat can be using sodium nitrite or sure cure. We’ve talked about it exhaustively in the past but using nitrite helps fight botulism spores. Its important to use when smoking meat as you are often creating the perfect environment for the growth of botulism and other bad microorganisms. It can also assist in increasing the shelf life of the meat and preserving the color and flavor.

    Watch WaltonsTV: Deli Meat: 202 Additives For Homemade Deli Meats Shop waltonsinc.com for Additives Shop waltonsinc.com for Cold Phosphate - Sodium Phosphate Shop waltonsinc.com for Sodium Lactate

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  • Deli Meats Deli Meat: 201 Restructuring Smaller Cuts

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Freeze Attachment Grinding Meat Mixing Meat Stuffing Deli Meat Slicing Meat Two Ways to Process

    In the first series of deli meats, we covered some basic additives, some tips for buying and how to make fresh, whole muscle deli roast beef. Now we are going to get into restructured deli meats and some of the science behind it. For restructured deli meats there are two main ways you can process them. The first is to take larger cuts of meat and bind them together and the other is to completely break it down and then mold them into whatever shape you want.

    In both of these processes, one of the main things that will reply upon is solubilizing the proteins from the muscle in the meat and using that to bind the sperate parts together into one cohesive piece, or loaf. Some processors will use transglutaminase which acts as a meat glue and there are all sorts of opinions on this practice with some people disapproving of its use and saying it misleads the consumer and even some saying it is unhealthy.

    Meat Block

    Chicken or Turkey Breast
    1 bag of Seasoning of your choice (click here for seasoning of cure to use per lb of meat)
    1 oz bag of sure cure (click here for amounts of cure to use per lb of meat)



    The Process

    First, we need to solubilize the myofibrillar proteins in the meat and then we need to extract those proteins from the muscle cells. Both of those processes are going to require salt being added to the meat at some point in the process, generally it is a good idea to inject your solution into the meat, let it marinate to allow the salt time to work on the muscle or you can use a vacuum tumbler if you have one as this will speed up the process with both the mechanical energy of dropping the meat from near the top of the drum to the bottom and pulling the fibers further apart with the vacuum. Because we want the meat to hold as much water as possible we want to choose a marinade that has some phosphate in it as this will increase the water-holding capacity of the meat, it does this by changing the pH and allowing water molecules to form a tighter bond. Once these proteins have been extracted from the meat and are coating the outside of the muscles they will become sticky and can start to hold together pieces of the meat.

    Stuffing & Forming

    Now you can form it into any desired shape though until they are heat-treated you could easily pull the pieces apart, they won’t become one piece until we heat treat the product. For the home user one of the easiest things to do is to very tightly stuff it into a loaf casing like the Smoke Coated Loaf Casing or the large red bologna casings, be aware that you need to stuff this as tight as you can or it will not bind properly, that is one of the reasons we like these casings as they are very strong. Commercial processors will use a vacuum stuffer for this which will stuff the casing much tighter than we could ever hope to, so make sure you stuff them as tightly as you can. If you don’t get it stuffed tightly enough you can have voids in the deli meat or you might have sections not bind properly to each other. Some voids are going to be almost unavoidable with a hand crank stuffer though, so if you have a few empty spaces its not the end of the world.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    Smoking or any type of cooking of this type of deli meat is a little different than normal smoking as once the proteins have denatured no more smoke will adhere, so we need to have an initial stage of low heat and high humidity to equalize all products in the smokehouse, if you are only doing a single loaf then this isn’t as important. Then we need to run a quick-drying phase where the outside will become nice and tacky to allow the smoke to adhere and to penetrate the meat. The next stage we will introduce heavy smoke and keep the temperature similar to the drying phase. Also, we are not adding a cure to this so we don’t have the luxury of keeping the temperature of the smoker low for long periods. For an uncured Chicken breast deli loaf like this one, we set the temp right to 180° with 100% Relative humidity right after our drying phase.

    Binding Together

    The next step would be to raise the temperature which will denature the proteins and force them to bind together. Simply put the increased heat forces the molecules of the meat to vibrate fast enough that they break their previous bonds and precipitate. No, they don’t start raining, chemically speaking precipitate means to form a solid from a solution. Now we will have what will look like one solid piece of deli meat that we made up from multiple pieces of chicken breast. You can still clearly see that it was made up of multiple pieces but the small amount that we ran twice through a 1/8" plate is working with the proteins we extracted from the full pieces to act as a glue to help hold it all together. And when we simply grind it all then you can see it looks close to summer sausage in consistency.


    For sandwiches, it is preferable to slice your meat as thin as you can. This will depend on your slicer, trying to slice at the thinnest setting might not give you full pieces, select the lowest setting you can that will still produce full slices. This is somewhat easier if you are breaking the product all the way down instead of forming it from smaller cuts, when making one large loaf from smaller cuts we are relying on the binding of the small amount we ground, plus the binder to keep the larger pieces together. This means we need to slice those types thicker.

    Wrap up

    Making homemade Restructured Deli Meat is very simple. You have probably made summer sausage at home before and this is the same basic process, just make sure you are fully solubilizing the proteins to allow everything to set firmly together during the cooking process.

    Other Notes

    An important note is that once we have sliced it we have exposed the entire area to bacteria, this means we need to treat it like a ground product now and it needs to be refrigerated and consumed within 3-5 days.

    Watch WaltonsTV: Deli Meat: 201 Restructuring Smaller Cuts Shop waltonsinc.com for Walton’s Complete Turkey Cure Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for Walton’s 8.7 in Meat Slicer Shop waltonsinc.com for Marinade Express Vacuum Tumbler - Pro

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  • Deli Meats Deli Meats 104 - Basics For Making Fresh Deli Meats

    Attend this entry-level class from Meatgistics University by watching the video, reading the article and post any questions you have!

    Injecting Meat Smoked Meat Slicing Meat What Is Deli Meat?

    Deli meat can be made a few different ways, it can be fresh, which will be a whole muscle cut that has been cooked and then sliced like a roast or some turkey. Or it can be reformed from smaller cuts or even an emulsified product that is then sliced and sold by weight for sandwiches and subs.

    Meat Block

    Eye of the Round
    1 Bag of Soluble Pa’s Black Bull BBQ Soluble Seasoning


    Walton’s Automatic Syringe Injector


    The first thing you need to do is decide if you want to remove the fat cap before or after you cook this. I like to remove it first when making deli meat. Cut off as much of the fat as you can without cutting too far into the meat. Remove any silver skin or membrane still attached to the meat.

    Choose a marinade that includes phosphates of some sort, phosphates allow the meat to retain more moisture through the cooking process and since we aren’t going to cure this we can’t step it up in slow stages so moisture loss can be a major problem. Mix your seasoning into your water, making sure everything is fully dissolved. Inject your meat evenly with as much of the seasoning as the meat will accept. You will know that your meat is fully seasoned when the marinade start shooting back out the injection holes.

    Vacuum Sealing

    Hold the product overnight (or at least for a few hours) to allow the seasoning to more evenly disperse in the meat. My favorite way to do this is to put the meat in a vacuum bag and seal it. It does not need to be a perfect vacuum, simply remove as much of the air as you can from the bag, this will allow more of the marinade to stay inside the meat and will keep anything that leaks out to stay in contact with the meat, adding to the flavor.

    Topical Seasoning

    Before you put your meat in the smoker or oven you might want to rub the outside with an additional seasoning. I like to try to choose something that will either compliment the marinade I used or something that will juxtapose it strongly enough to be easily noticebale. Rub as much as you want on the outside of the meat, since we are going to slice this so thin and this seasoning will only stay on the outside it is almost impossible to overseason a topical rub when making deli meat.


    The cook schedule will be very simple for this type of meat. If you are using a smoker an important decision is to add smoke or not. When I made this I used our PK-100 Smoker but did not add any additional smoke to it.

    Thermal Processing & Smoking

    225° until the internal temperature is 132°


    Remove from the smoker and cover in tin foil for at least 20 minutes. This will continue the cooking process for a few minutes and let the juice and blood absorb back into the meat. If you slice it too soon the juice will leak right out of the meat.


    For sandwiches, it is preferable to slice your meat as thin as you can. This will depend on your slicer, trying to slice at the thinnest setting might not give you full pieces, select the lowest setting you can that will still produce full slices.

    Wrap up

    Making homemade Fresh Deli Meat is really very simple. You have probably made roasts in the oven before and this is the same process, just make sure you are marinating with a seasoning that contains phosphates and you slice it as thin as you can.

    Additional Tips If your preferred seasoning does not contain phosphates you can add some to the marinade to increase the water holding capacity of the meat, just make sure you do not exceed a usage of 2 oz per 25 lb of meat or you might get a soapy taste to your meat. Other Notes

    An important note is that once we have sliced it we have exposed the entire area to bacteria, this means we need to treat it like a ground product now and it needs to be refrigerated and consumed within 3-5 days.

    XXXXXX Watch WaltonsTV: Deli Meats 104 - Basics For Making Fresh Deli Meats Shop waltonsinc.com for Bratwurst Seasoning Shop waltonsinc.com for Meat Grinders Shop waltonsinc.com for High-Temp Cheese Shop waltonsinc.com for Boning Knives

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