I open this discussion to better understand of why some sausage makers use binders and some sausage makers don't. Would like to hear what everyone has to say .
So maybe we should list the reasons one might use a binder like lack of fat, or using a fatty meat which can also be using another more lean meat in a small % as a binder (Like a 90/10 mix for beef/pork sausage), or numerous chemical type additives to hold the fat or protiens in suspension so a higher smoking temp can be used? Those are a few I have read about, probably a bunch more.
Since I use the roaster now to cook mine which like adding cure everywhere and has been a source of discontent on my part. yes I get a better end product but I know my Pop and his Dad and his Grandpa didn't do it this way. Which was a large part of what I started curing and nmaking sausages, I see less shrinkage in my sausages. I like the texrure as well as the taste when adding Amespho (a Ames Company Phosphate = AmesPhos). While not needing as much since I have accepted the smokie flavor reducion, to maintain the 'plumpness' of my sausages.
I actually like the wrinklie smoked casing because I think the casing dry and pop better when bitten or cut with the dry casing. I have found what currently I like best in roaster poaching the sausages (lossing some of that aroma) and then allowing to cool themselves vice the ice bath. By filling the casing a tiny bit fuller/tighter I am seeingthe good skin while maintaining the moisture.
I have also in the couple a monthsreduced my smoked sausage grind plate to a medium plate which seems to better facilitate the more complete packing of the casings. The andouille is done with a 3/4" plate and with the size of the course ground I have not had any problems with loss of fat.
Last but not least, I nearly never exceed less than 1/2 C of water, usually more like 1/4 C to add curing or binders. I am guessing it allows the binders to grab more of the sausages natural water/flavors/fats that way instead of H20 which will only probably evaporate during the de-water cycle of the smoker.
Also I have not done much with any meat but pork.
Now theres a lot to discuss (probably alot more I am misinformed upon)....LOL Its just what I have found seems to work well with what little I have done so far. No more than I have done I should have just kept my mouth shut and listened. Naaaaa....... LOL
First of all I have to say, if you use a binder or not and you are happy with the sausage you make, that is what is important. I've made sausage without binders at times like most folks. That was to see what difference it made. Well it made a lot of difference. I have posted pics on here before of some of the stuff I have made. All of that sausage was made with added powdered dry milk. In my opinion [and I have said it before a few times LOL] to have a nice and juicy sausage [links] you should use a binder. To have that nice texture in summer sausage, you should use a binder. After all when all is said and done, the appearance is a important factor, to the taste buds before you even chomp on sausage.
What does a binder do as far as appearance? It prevents shrinkage!!. A binder does what the word says. It binds the fat to the meat, thus keeping the sausage nice and juicy. Just like making any sausage, when using a binder, the correct amount of water [or beer] should be used. After all the spices, cure [if used], binder and water have been mixed well, the end result should be a sticky mix ready for stuffing.
Well what about shrinkage. I can tell you that after smoking or cooking in the oven even 25 pounds of polish for example, I may have about two or three drops on the foil below the sausage or drip pan total. And that has been consistent with me so far. I use a binder in fresh sausage as well. I vary the amount of powdered milk I use depending on how lean of a type of sausage mix I have. The more fat in the mix I can go up to 1 cup per 5 pounds and less of course in something like summer sausage, but it's in there.
I remember my grandfather who owned a butcher shop in Germany. He would use bread crumbs in sausage to act as a binder. Well that was many years ago but the idea was the same. I have a buddy that uses the powdered milk in his burger for patties and meat loaf. Haven't tried that but I think I'll give it a shot.
So the main two reasons I use the binder is for appearance , less shrinkage, and a nice juicy end product. Reinhard
I've made just 1 sausage using a binder. It was a green onion and chicken sausage that used 100% chicken breast only. The only fat in the product was a 1/4 of olive oil and then the binder and the meat. It definitely stayed juicy when heated and cooked. Aside from that, I've made Keilbasa, SS, Andouille, and a few others and I haven't used any binders in them. I haven't made much fresh sausage, but that might be something I'd give it a shot in. I'm like Foam in that I like that shrunken casing look and think it lends to a nice snap with cut of bitten. I usually do that water bath after the smoke and bloom in the fridge for a couple days.
Only once did I not do the water bath and just turned the smoker off and let them cool like that. The final product was extra shrunken casings and an amazing snap. What was even nicer, was when I sliced it up and fried some pieces they were still juicy. I've never had a final product not be juicy. I've had final products have case shrinking, but I like it.
I could see why others would use the binders. I just might have to give it a shot.
BTW, how about some photos of some non-binder and binder final products . Here's the one I did and let them cool in the smoker with no bath.
I like using powdered milk as a binder for sausage stuffed in anything larger than a hog casing. I've been making summer sausage, bologna, and formed bacon in 4" casings and then slicing. The sliced pieces without binder will break when bent and slices with binder will bend and are more like a store bought slice. I don't notice much difference in moisture in the end but I know if sausage is smoked too hot, sausage with binder will turn out better. (kind of an insurance policy) The only sausage I add water to is Kabanosy. Powdered milk does change flavor.
Ok heres my take.... I dont add binders as I see no need for a binder or so called NFDM. My results are a well binded juicy plump sausage. Lately I been trying some binders like soy protien isolate and NFDM and am not yet on board with using them. With the added binder I do notice the sausage has more water retention but I am not seeing a difference in the bind. IMO the fat is the binder and also important is the quality of the meat being used. (Good fresh whole meat with 20-30%fat). But even then I have used 90/10 and had great results with out a binder. A binder would be helpful if conditions are not ideal especially when cooking temps are too high and fat out occurs. I also believe that excessive water added to the meat will ruin a good bind and that's where a binder would be helpful.
Here are some examples of sausages made without binders
Next batch of sausage I make I'll add a binder to a few lbs and compare them to the sausage without the binder and take some pictures of the sausages cut open and fried or heated.....
When I make my All Beef "Bear Sticks", and "Bear Logs", and "Bear Loaf", I never use binders. I use Beef & Seasonings & TQ.
That's because I call them All Beef, not Binder Sticks, or Veggie Sticks, or Oatmeal Sticks.
I also do not use casings, I use 80/20 Beef, and they have never fallen apart, so I guess they really didn't need a "Binder".
Good information Dig.