Effects of Acids on Sausage Texture: Chorizo Criollo Argentino 3 Ways + Beer & Hot Links

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Meat Mopper
Original poster
May 18, 2021
On another thread, the topic of acids on binding/texture came up and I realized that I haven't used any acids in my sausages. In addition, Chorizo came up and many of the Marianski recipes don't leverage cures for Chorizo. As such, I thought this was a good opportunity to play with my food and experiment with:
  • What it's like to not use cure in sausage
  • What the effects of various level of acids are like with mixing and the texture of the final product.
  • Whether beer (ph ~4-4.5) on a texture-only-basis would negatively impact hot links, since I'll be making that next.
Since I had some beef and pork left over, I decided on the Chorico Criollo Argentino recipe from 1001 Greatest Sausages. It was made three ways: water only, wine + water (from Argentino recipe + extra to make consistent liquid), and acid (from Colombiano recipe). Here's the ingredients (per pound):
  • Salt 18g
  • Pepper 2g
  • Chili Powder 4g
  • Fresh ground nutmeg 1g
  • Oregano 4g
  • Fresh garlic mince 12g
  • Fennel 2g
  • 22.5ml water ("Water" batch only)
  • 18ml red wine + 4.5ml water ("Wine" batch only)
  • 9ml lime juice + 4.5ml red wine + 9ml water ("Acid" batch only).
Here's the grind (evenly split into 302g batches):


And the mix:

The mix looked about the same for all three, and I was able to get them all to the same level of stickiness (which surprised me). However, there was a noticeable difference in the time to sticky. My methodology was to paddle mix until the blade got a chunk stuck onto it for 3 seconds and to time how long it took to get there. Then to hand mix until sticky, time that, and mix more for one more minute. This is close to my usual process.

This is what it looks like when first getting "stuck" in the paddle.


Then hand mix until sticky:

Results of Acid on Mixing:
  • Water (~31-32F):
    • Time to clump: 1:44
    • Time to sticky: 2:31
    • pH after mix: 5.98
  • Wine (~30F)
    • Time to clump: 3:00
    • Time to sticky: 3:30
    • pH after mix: 5.86
  • Acid (~30F)
    • Time to clump: 3:22
    • Time to sticky: 3:50
    • pH after mix: 5.56
I should note that I realized the temperature would mess with my results a tad too late. So when I started working with Wine batch, I moved the acid batch to the fridge form the freezer. Regardless, I definitely felt an impact on mix time. I should also note that the mix times in general are much lower than usual. When working with such small batches, the kitchenaid is really quick.

Also, I should note that the digital pH meter wasn't accurate due to the temperature, so I did a quick sanity check with the paper. I then measured after leaving all three out the next day for a bit, and got much better readings then.

I then stuffed in hog casings (which was quite tricky on the jerky gun):


Linked and hung in smoker to dry for 30 mins:


Smoke schedule: 30min/135, 1hr/155, 1hr/175 to IT of 155. I needed to accelerate the cook time (since no cure #1, I needed to minimize low temp cook time), but the downside was that there was a bit of fat-out.

Then I cooled in ice, and I'm a bit embarrassed to show this result (I was hesitating on posting this experiment in fact, but I figured folks might be curious about the results, so I should power through my embarassment):


And here's the rather ugly looking gray result (and sorry for the difference in shadow):


Despite getting to the same level of "sticky," the increased level of acids definitely resulted in a less bound and more crumbly texture.

This also definitely has me conclude that, despite seeing beer in hot link recipes everywhere, it may not be a good idea to add it to the sausage mix without something extra to increase the pH. Although beer has higher pH than wine, the amount usually added (~120ml/lb) is about double the amount of wine I used, so I'm sure it'd put the mix at a pH in the wine category at least (possibly in the acid category if > 120ml per lb.

Hope you all enjoyed that! Now onto hot links!


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FYI....wine has a pH around 3.6.....pretty dang acidic.....
Yep! I think I have some notes about the ph of the solutions. Let me see...
  • Water solution: 6.5pH (I used reverse-osmosis filtered water, which lowers the pH a bit, but it looks like I need to change my filters as this is usually closer to 6.0)
  • Wine solution pH: 3.5 pH (A bit lower than I expected, given I diluted 25% with water. Maybe it was my choice of wine (Marsala))
  • Acid Solution: This read 2.5 pH.
I should point out that all the above were only 22.5ml. So that's why it'd didn't impact the mix pH all that much (but a larger quantity of beer might have more impact).
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If you want to use acidic liquids in a sausage, I highly suggest using phosphates. All are basic, though some are higher than others up into the pH10 range. This is why they act as great binders, by raising the pH....
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Beer is a little higher pH...in the 4.0-4.5 range....
I quoted it on the lower end (4.0ph), it can be higher of course. Regardless, several recipes quoted it at ~2oz/lb (56ml), which would be twice the amount of the solution I added. Some recipes had *much* more beer. On the lower end, they'd put it at about twice the quantity of liquid I used. So although beer is 4.0-4.5pH, I think in most recipes, it'd have a bigger impact than the wine cohort at least. Possibly it's roughly equivalent.

Either way, just like with wine, it doesn't come without downsides -- not ideal as going with the simpler approach and skipping beer, in my opinion.
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If you want to use acidic liquids in a sausage, I highly suggest using phosphates. All are basic, though some are higher than others up into the pH10 range. This is why they act as great binders, by raising the pH....
Solid advice. I was only considering the recipes without phosphates. Possibly the approach is "if you add beer and want smooth texture, add phosphates too. Otherwise, don't add beer." Another bit might be "if you like crumbly texture, then don't worry about it." (which would also be valid for these chorizo recipes)

Of course, there's also an argument for adding as little unnecessary components as possible. So if beer requires additional ph buffering or phosphates or whatever, folks at least understand the downsides to it. For me, I want to taste the meat and not the beer.

That being said, if you really like the beer flavor, I totally see your point. Everyone should get the flavor they want, and if they like what beer adds to it, then knowing that a phosphate would mitigate the textural impact might help a few folks out there make better sausage that they like, and I'm all about that.
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