What is Emulsification?
Emulsification essentially means ‘blend’. The key to a good sausage is for the meat (protein), fat and liquid to all ‘emulsify’ - or blend into one another. When you combine your meat (protein), fat and liquid you should give it all a good mix, preferably by hand. As you mix, you will notice the texture of the mixture starting to change. The mixture starts to ‘bind’ as the protein starts to absorb the fat. This is the process of emulsification at work. The mixture will become sticky and form a more uniform mixture with less visible ‘bits’. This sticky paste is called a ‘farce’. You know your mix is ready when you can spread a spoonful on your hand and it will stay stuck to your hand when you turn it upside down.
The more you mix, or emulsify, your sausage mix, the more smooth and uniform your sausage will be, both visually and texturally. If you pureed the sausage mix to a fine paste, you would get a highly emulsified, ‘smooth sausage’ eg a hot dog. These sausages are sometimes called an ‘emulsified sausage’ even though some level of emulsification occurs for all sausages.
Here are some common emulsification agents or fillers:
Egg whites are very lean but extremely high in protein so they are an excellent emulsification / binding agent, especially for pureed sausages. Whole eggs have more fat (11%) and will also act as a binding agent. They will also add a creaminess richness to your sausage.
You can also use cream in sausage recipes to add fat, flavour and creaminess. You can substitute water for cream.
Bread, rice or rusk (baked breadcrumbs) are common ‘fillers’ for sausages. They are typically used by sausage manufacturers to make the meat go further. They are also great binders.