Fitness sausages

German sausage might be very popular, but that tasty exterior conceals a lot of fat. Together with a master butcher, the Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV has developed a new manufacturing process for sausages using just 2.5 percent fat.

Oh, to shed those winter pounds! Many of us would give their right arm for some tasty food to help lose those extra pounds – with no-fat sausages for starters. Traditional pork and liver sausage or salami all contain 25 to 40 percent fat. You can buy reduced-fat sausages in the shops, but they still have a fat content between 10 and 20 percent. Usually the only way that sausage-makers can get below 5 percent is by adding poultry meat. These low-fat products are often less tasty, however, since fat enhances the flavor.

The know-how of IVV researchers about technical processes and the physiology of nutrition, coupled with the experience of the master butcher Josef Pointner in Mindelheim, has now made it possible to produce succulent, tasty pork sausages with dramatically reduced fat content. The new manufacturing process has already been filed for patenting. The basic recipe for sausage is normally 50 percent pork, 30 percent pork fat, salt and herbs. Add poultry or beef and you get the poultry and beef variety. Uncooked or boiled ham contains less fat. And so a new range of sausages from selected hind leg of pork has been developed.

Dr. Peter Eisner, project manager at the IVV, explains the composition of the fitness sausage: "Chemically speaking, sausages are a mixture of an emulsion and a gel – finely distributed fat and water form the emulsion, water and protein a gel. Butchers add bacon fat, rind, gristle and other ingredients to achieve the required consistency. The proteins required to firm up the sausage come from the meat fibers." Now the challenge was to develop a succulent sausage with a firm 'bite' despite its low fat content, because lack of fat tends to make sausages dry and crumbly. "We exclusively use hind leg of pork as it's very rich in healthy proteins and only contains 2.5 to 3 percent fat. The meat is minced so it retains nutrients. The new process helps retain the valuable proteins and largely determines the taste and consistency of the new sausage products. The manufacturing process is efficient and cost-effective," is how Eisner sums up the process.

Butchers can make the innovative, low-fat sausage even with traditional sausage-making equipment. It is not yet certain when the 'fitness sausage' will be on the shelves of German supermarkets. The researchers at the IVV are currently looking for reputable partners to manufacture and market the product.

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