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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Low Salt - Making Healthy Sausages



Making Healthy Sausages - Lowering Salt
Removing animal fat and decreasing calories makes a healthier sausage for most people, but the large amounts of salt still create a problem for many. The amount of salt added to all commercial products (not just sausages) is huge and will in time increase blood pressure in even healthy individuals.
Salt increases blood pressure, that is a fact. Some people are more tolerant to salt, but about 20% of the population will become salt sensitive, especially later in life.
We do not develop high blood pressure by eating sausages, but by consuming ready to eat products which we warm up at home. Just look at the amount of salt canned soup, canned vegetables, or canned fish contains. Salt is added to everything, meat products and sausages, canned fish, peanut butter, canned vegetables, nuts, soups, milk, cheese, butter, vegetable spreads - the list is endless.
The amount of salt those items contain is simply scary. Salt is added in such a high amount to prevent the growth of bacteria and to prolong the shelf life of the product. We have no control over manufactured products, but we can prepare our own meals ourselves. By cooking at home we can add only as much salt as is needed for good flavor. This amount will be well below what is added by commercial producers.
Choosing salt substitutes. The number one step is to pick up a salt substitute which will be used and become familiar with it. Let's assume that a sausage will contain 1% of salt and that calls for adding 10 g of salt to 1 kg (1000 g) of meat. Mix 10 g of salt substitute (about 1½ teaspoon) with 1 kg of meat, make a tiny hamburger, cook it and see how you like it. Let your palate be the judge. Contrary to a popular belief, the sausages do not contain as much salt as we normally like to think. A typical range is from 1.5% to 2% salt in relation to the weight of the sausage mass. An average figure will be around 1.8%. Keep in mind that fermented sausages must not be made with lower levels of salt as at the beginning of the process, salt is the only barrier that protects the meat against the growth of bacteria.
Read the label carefully to see how much regular salt (sodium chloride) a particular salt substitute contains and you will know exactly how much salt your sausage contains. There are different brands of salt substitutes in supermarkets and online so do your research.
Here comes to our rescue another salt, KCl, known as potassium chloride. You can see that does not contain Na (sodium), the part that is responsible for increasing blood pressure. When used alone, it has a salty bitter flavor, so the preferred choice is to mix it with a common salt. A good combination is to mix one part of KCl with one part NaCl. What we get is the new salt: NaCl + KCl, which contains only 50% of Na (sodium) of the common table salt. Our biggest salt producer Morton makes such a salt called "Lite Salt" which is available in every supermarket. Morton produces another salt under the name "Salt Substitute" which contains 0 sodium (Na). You may call it the salt without salt as it has salty/bitter flavor, yet it does not contain any sodium. Salt substitutes vary in their composition, but their main ingredient is always potassium chloride. A salt substitute does not taste exactly like sodium chloride, but it is close enough, and it contains less or none of the sodium that some people are trying to avoid.
If you decide to go on a low sodium diet and start decreasing the amount of salt you consume, after about three weeks you may reach a point when your food tastes enjoyable, though you use less salt than before. When smoking large amounts of meat that will be kept for a week or longer, remember that it will keep on drying out (losing moisture), even when kept in a refrigerator. Salt will, however, remain inside and your sausage will now taste saltier though its diameter will be smaller. In such a case you may use less salt than originally planned for as the saltiness and meat flavor will be more pronounced in time. And if you find your sausage not salty enough use a salt shaker, that is what they are made for.
Adam Marianski has written six books on meat smoking and making sausages. His latest book Making Healthy Sausages has been recently published. Detailed information on making sausages and many recipes can be found at
Adam Marianski has written six books on meat smoking and making sausages. His latest book Making Healthy Sausages has been recently published by Bookmagic LLC.
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