Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid


  • Walton’s recommends their Special Meat Binder a blend of milk product and Sodium Phosphate in their sticks and other cured meats as in Summer Sausage.

    Walton’s also recommends Encapsulated Citric Acid for a desired tang. in the same products.

    Both of these are used at the same time.

    The Phosphate achieves it moisture retention properties by “Raising” the PH.

    The Critic Acid achieves its tang and other properties by by “lowing” the PH.

    How can these two, one raising and one lowering PH be used at the same time?

  • Team Blue

    I’ve used Walton’s Sure Gel in summer sausage and in snack sticks. ECA will give you a nice tang in you finished product due to the citric acid. The binder is used to help protein extraction and in moisture retention. This is directly from the Walton’s Sure Gel product page.

    “Why is a Meat Binder Important?
    Meat Binders help with any cured sausage product by helping the meat, water, fat, seasoning and cure bind together. This gives you a jucier finished product and increases your final yield.”

    Just remember ECA should be the last item into your mix and it should not be mix long as the encapsulation can be broken if mixed to long. The sausage should then go immediately into your smoker or you run the risk of the ECA breaking down.


  • Both product archive there desired results by altering the PH.

    Phosphate raises PH, ECA lowers PH, using them at the same time accomplishes what as far as PH is concerned

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    … following! Great question



  • Apparently nobody here has and answer, pitty

  • Regular Contributors

    steve4102 Are you trying to figure out how much the ph is raised and then lowered? Or are you trying to figure out if the added ph info is even relevant for your project?

    Austin Jonathon maybe you could provide some insight for this one?

  • Regular Contributors

    Increasing the ph using phosphates helps with protein extraction but the even slight raise in ph can have adverse effect on taste, texture, and color of the product. Too high of ph in fatty products can make them taste soapy, or even metallic. From what I understand the ECA is used to help combat this.

    These are an interesting read.
    [https://meatsci.osu.edu/node/125]
    [https://academicjournals.org/article/article1380894469_Long et al.pdf]

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    Well steve4102 it is between you and I now…

    I was following because I like the science behind things and was being lazy. Before going to Physical Therapy school my undergraduate degree was in Biochemistry. Again I was being lazy because I could have research it for you. So let me get to work to find the answer for us…

    From my summary research I found that phosphates are:

    1. Hygroscopic, which means they attract moisture. The reason to use the following i.e. potassium tripolyphosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, and sodium hexameta-phosphate is because they are more hygroscopic than salt, increasing water holding capacity in order to lead to higher yields
    2. In the right concentration phosphates affects flavor. Some researchers have indicated that phosphates, particularly at high levels, result in “soapy” or bitter tastes, improving texture and sensory properties (tenderness, juiciness, color and flavor)
    3. Polyphosphates also chelate or “tie up” divalent cations (calcium, magnesium or iron) from hard water supplies, so basically act as a water conditioners
    4. The phosphates (alkaline compounds) will enhance the stability of emulsion products and improve the binding of meat chunks in sectioned and formed meat products. Because your mince may be affected by temperature (cooking or emulsifying in the processors), phosphates also helps in protecting the emulsion from those temperature variations which is extremely valuable in the production of low-sodium meat products (since they have less myosin extraction then a high sodium content product).
      5)Phosphates exhibit a high pH in water (the pH value listed in phosphate specifications), but since meat is a buffer itself, phosphates’ effect on meat pH is considerably less. Even the limited increase in pH (approximately 0.6 unit maximum) appears to increase water-holding capacity and protein solubility. On the negative side, this increase on pH will reduce cured color development.
    5. Lastly, phosphates in meat products are also sources of the supply of phosphorus for consumers through diet, which is an essential mineral

    So, in summary (and relevant to your original question) Sodium Phophates (for example, 0.9 g of Na2HPO4 (anhydrous) to distilled H2O to make a volume of 1 L) will generate a pH of 7.4, which correct is alkaline however as described above the meat will act as a buffer and the pH will actually be stabilized rather than alkalotic.

    Although adding Encapsulated Citric Acid may sound counter productive initially on the basis of pH remember that Sodium Phosphate is not only slightly alkaline and will only affect pH by 0.6 units. The addition of Phosphates does have additional benefits that ECA may not have (did not research it). Comparatively Encapsulated Citric acid has a pH of 4.2 which is added to the buffer (mince) to produce a tang in the pH range of 4.8-5.2 normally. Personally I use cultures such as LHP-Dry etc… over ECA but I did buy some recently because you can go from processed to cooking much faster than holding over night and using a digital pH meter to verify the end of your acidifying period.

    Hopefully this was not too bad of a read

    Have a great day!!!

  • Regular Contributors

    Dr_Pain said in Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid:

    Well steve4102 it is between you and I now…

    I was following because I like the science behind things and was being lazy. Before going to Physical Therapy school my undergraduate degree was in Biochemistry. Again I was being lazy because I could have research it for you. So let me get to work to find the answer for us…

    From my summary research I found that phosphates are:

    1. Hygroscopic, which means they attract moisture. The reason to use the following i.e. potassium tripolyphosphate, tetrapotassium pyrophosphate, and sodium hexameta-phosphate is because they are more hygroscopic than salt, increasing water holding capacity in order to lead to higher yields
    2. In the right concentration phosphates affects flavor. Some researchers have indicated that phosphates, particularly at high levels, result in “soapy” or bitter tastes, improving texture and sensory properties (tenderness, juiciness, color and flavor)
    3. Polyphosphates also chelate or “tie up” divalent cations (calcium, magnesium or iron) from hard water supplies, so basically act as a water conditioners
    4. The phosphates (alkaline compounds) will enhance the stability of emulsion products and improve the binding of meat chunks in sectioned and formed meat products. Because your mince may be affected by temperature (cooking or emulsifying in the processors), phosphates also helps in protecting the emulsion from those temperature variations which is extremely valuable in the production of low-sodium meat products (since they have less myosin extraction then a high sodium content product).
      5)Phosphates exhibit a high pH in water (the pH value listed in phosphate specifications), but since meat is a buffer itself, phosphates’ effect on meat pH is considerably less. Even the limited increase in pH (approximately 0.6 unit maximum) appears to increase water-holding capacity and protein solubility. On the negative side, this increase on pH will reduce cured color development.
    5. Lastly, phosphates in meat products are also sources of the supply of phosphorus for consumers through diet, which is an essential mineral

    So, in summary (and relevant to your original question) Sodium Phophates (for example, 0.9 g of Na2HPO4 (anhydrous) to distilled H2O to make a volume of 1 L) will generate a pH of 7.4, which correct is alkaline however as described above the meat will act as a buffer and the pH will actually be stabilized rather than alkalotic.

    Although adding Encapsulated Citric Acid may sound counter productive initially on the basis of pH remember that Sodium Phosphate is not only slightly alkaline and will only affect pH by 0.6 units. The addition of Phosphates does have additional benefits that ECA may not have (did not research it). Comparatively Encapsulated Citric acid has a pH of 4.2 which is added to the buffer (mince) to produce a tang in the pH range of 4.8-5.2 normally. Personally I use cultures such as LHP-Dry etc… over ECA but I did buy some recently because you can go from processed to cooking much faster than holding over night and using a digital pH meter to verify the end of your acidifying period.

    Hopefully this was not too bad of a read

    Have a great day!!!

    yeah, uh, what he said!

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

  • Team Blue Canning Regular Contributors Power User

    Ridley Acres he lost me as soon as I got to the word science. Sometimes I wish I was smart, then I just assume it must be magic if I dont understand

  • Team Orange Masterbuilt Big Green Egg Dry Cured Sausage Sous Vide Canning Power User

    Dr_Pain Yowser!!! It was like I was back in chemistry class and I understood the words.

  • Team Orange Power User Canning Masterbuilt

    YooperDog I don’t think I want to go back to that class, metal shop maybe.

  • Regular Contributors Cast Iron Sous Vide Canning Team Blue Power User

    Dr_Pain what kind of sorcery is this.

  • Regular Contributors

    Would it be safe to say that these two additives have their effect on meat at different times during processing?
    Wondering if phosphates impact protein extraction and water binding during mixing prior to cooking and ECA does it’s thing during thermal processing.

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    kyle said in Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid:

    Ridley Acres he lost me as soon as I got to the word science. Sometimes I wish I was smart, then I just assume it must be magic if I dont understand

    Everyone is gifted somewhere. God saw that science made sense

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    YooperDog said in Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid:

    Dr_Pain Yowser!!! It was like I was back in chemistry class and I understood the words.

    Don’t you wish you could back in time and go through those classes again knowing what you know now?!?

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    GWG8541 said in Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid:

    Dr_Pain what kind of sorcery is this.

    Now that is funny!!! It is definitely not sorcery. Just applied research on subject I somewhat understand. Thanks for the laugh!!

  • Sous Vide Dry Cured Sausage Traeger Team Blue

    processhead said in Special Meat Binder vs Encapsulated Citric Acid:

    Would it be safe to say that these two additives have their effect on meat at different times during processing?
    Wondering if phosphates impact protein extraction and water binding during mixing prior to cooking and ECA does it’s thing during thermal processing.

    Hey Paul, based on what is added when, I would say you are on the money. Obviously Phosphates will have longer effects on the mince and will definitely help in protein extraction (because it is a salt, because it denatures the myosin and because of water trapping)

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