Cured Sausage: 202 Using Encapsulated Citric Acid

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Cured Sausage

    Cured Sausage: 202 Using Encapsulated Citric Acid

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    Acid Dissolving
    Dry Product

    Tangy Taste

    If you have ever had a snack stick or summer sausage and it has a pleasing little tang to it then most likely it is coming from Encapsulated Citric Acid. Some areas of the country, like Wisconsin, won’t even consider it Summer Sausage unless you have altered the pH somehow to create that “tang”. Not only does it add the tang but it also has an effect on how the cure works. Encapsulated Citric Acid is acid that has been coated in cottonseed oil to prevent it from releasing into the meat too early. It is designed so that the encapsulation will break down when the meat that surrounds it has reached 135° and it needs to be at that temperature for over an hour to fully dissolve. With most cooking schedules this isn’t much of a problem as this is where we will generally run into the stall and spend a few hours getting it from 135 - 160.

    pH And Bacteria Growth

    Citric Acid acts as a cure accelerator as it decreases the pH and creates an acidic environment. The increased acidic environment allows the cure to work more efficiently, a drop of 0.2-0.3 in the pH can double the rate at which the cure works. So, how exactly does Encapsulated Citric Acid and Nitrite work together to inhibit the growth of bacteria? We will go over that in greater detail in other videos but the quick answer is that the bacteria will spend most of its energy trying to prevent the acid from getting through its cell wall that it no longer has any energy to replicate.

    If you remember high school biology bacteria are single-cell organisms that replicate exact copies of themselves by growing and splitting. The acidic environment speeding up the conversion of nitrite to nitric oxide also means that we will get a very nice reddish pink color in our meat without having to hold it overnight.

    Other Notes

    You really should go directly from stuffing your sausage to smoking when using Encapsulated Citric Acid, holding meat that has had Citric Acid added to it can cause the Cotton Seed Oil to rupture and the acid will begin to denature the proteins and you will end with a dry crumbly product. When adding this to your meat you want to add it during the last 60 seconds to prevent the encapsulation from rupturing, for the same reason adding it your meat and then regrinding isn’t a good idea.

    When trying to make shelf-stable products lowering the pH is a vital step along with reducing the water activity. Just because you used Citric Acid does not mean you have a shelf stable product but it can help and even if you don’t get to shelf stability due to your water activity the lowered pH will help extend the shelf life of the product.

    If you want the cure accelerating function but do not want the tang in your snack stick or other cured sausage you can use Sodium Erythorbate which is a good cure accelerator that does not impart any noticeable taste.

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  • Recently I made some summer sausage and for the first time I used the encapsulated citric acid. I used one pack, which was designed for 25lbs of meat. My issue is, in my opinion and others that have tried the sausage, the “tang” to the sausage is overwhelming. So much in fact that I am considering never using it again. I am wondering if I can cut back on the amount of citric acid I add. (like 3/4 a package instead of the whole thing?) Anybody have any ideas or suggestions I would appreciate it. Thanks, Chris

  • Team Orange Power User Masterbuilt

    I can relate to that. First time using it and tasting I got an immediate headache and started sweating. Thought I was having an allergic reaction. Have never used it since. This was a first.

  • Team Blue Regular Contributors Green Mountain Grill Masterbuilt

    Wapiti67 If I remember correctly a package is 4 oz for 25 lbs of meat, you can get away with using 3 oz for 25 lbs of meat. Whenever I have used it I use it a that usage rate (3 oz per 25 lbs) and figure out how much I need for the batch size I am making. I wouldn’t go lower than that though.

  • Team Blue Admin Walton's Employee Power User

    Wapiti67 Yes, you can use 3 oz to 25 lb of meat to get a cure accelerating benefit and have it cut down on the tang a little bit. Other options would be Sodium Erythorbate or Smoked Meat Stabilizer which will both act as cure accelerators without imparting the same level of tang. What seasoning did you use?

  • Team Blue Big Green Egg Masterbuilt Canning Kamado Joes Regular Contributors Power User

    Wapiti67 I also used ECA in my summer sausage and thought the tang covered up the meaty taste that I wanted. So I tried smoked meat stabilizer and I’ve been using it ever since.

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