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									              CHAPTER ELEVEN

    (Including those plants that may be involved in both, or either,
                Meat Preparations and Meat Products)

Although in this section both the items of meat products and meat preparations are being
covered, and perhaps at sometimes maybe overlapping, it may also be found that they do in
fact quite naturally overlap even with some of the previous basic requirements of the cutting
plants already discussed. In general, this section starts with processes and areas normally
associated with „Meat Preparations‟ and then moves on to those associated with „Meat Products‟.
There is again an obvious and unavoidable overlap at times between these two areas and if
subjects for example such as room finishes are discussed in one part, and the same does apply in
the second part then it will be implied that the same standards do apply.

Meat preparations can include items such as minced meats, sausages, burgers, spiced or coated
meats and meat mixed perhaps with vegetable products such as mixed grills, kebabs, and other
similar items. No attempt will be made here to describe in detail the processes that are involved
in making all of these products as they are usually quite individual to each producer. There are
so many and varied individual processes for arriving quite often at a product that is so similar in
appearance and make up to another product but made by a different method, that to try and
describe one method could be quite unfair and/or possibly unreasonable to another method. This
aspect becomes more evident nearer to the end of the book where a few recipes and suggestions

appear perhaps for a few trials on some items. It will then be noticed that with some of them, the
change may only involve a slight difference in the size of the mince plate, in the size of the
casing being used, very minor changes in recipes or in the product maturation time.

Mincing and grinding of meat can be quite extensive in itself. The large „breaker‟ mincing
machines and „flaking‟ machines needed to handle large quantities of meat that is either frozen
or has been partially „tempered‟ from frozen, in preparation for further processes, are quite
specific. That they are necessary cannot be denied but their use in general is quite limited
excepting to the largest of producers.

The use of minced meats as a product alone or, combined with other products by hand (or by
machine) has in fact been carried out as a regular procedure in many butchery practices. The
finished mix being then either filled into casings to make sausages or shaped into round balls,
which are flattened to create meat patties or burgers. Some older members of the industry may
recall mixing some seasonings with some minced meat prior to mincing again with a simple
piece of equipment fixed to the front of the mincer which produced a long strip of „burger‟ or
„steakettes‟ that had to be cut with shears. The same machine was later used by many meat plants
to process the fat that was to be added to roasting joints such as topside etc.

Minced meat then can be produced for a number of purposes but nowadays it is accepted that in
order to produce minced meat it is necessary to have a mincing machine of some kind. In time
gone by, in the absence of mincing machines, the meat was finely chopped by knife in order to
achieve a material suitable for some further processing though nowadays it is accepted that this
is done by a powered machine normally using electricity. Mincing machines in general have a
hopper (to hold the meat that is to be minced). The hopper on the smaller machines may be open
but the neck down which the meat is fed must be too narrow for any operator‟s fingers to pass in
order to minimise the risks of injury. Larger machines, particularly when they are fitted with the
large „paddles‟ to mix or blend the meat in the hopper (used to create a more consistent end
product) usually have a fairly close fitting lid that is wired in such a way to prevent the machine
operating with the lid open. It has been known in the past for some of these „fail safe‟ devices to

have been by-passed by operators and for subsequent serious injuries to have occurred, even,
unfortunately, some deaths. In general, if a safety „cut out‟ is fitted to prevent a machine
operating under certain circumstances (such as in this example with a hopper lid open) then that
safety function should always be respected and not be tampered with.

The meat feeds down from the hopper through a narrow neck onto a „worm‟ (a rotating shaft that
has a deep „screw‟ action running along its length to convey the meat forward) that runs in a
tubular chamber at a 90° angle to the feed from the neck and which carries the meat towards the
blades. The blades chop the meat prior to it being forced through a „plate‟ that has apertures or
holes. The holes may be of different sizes depending on the type of mince that is to be produced.
The blades and plates are fitted onto the end of the „worm‟ in the chamber and they are then held
in place by a „collar‟ that screws on to the end of the chamber. The mince may actually be
specified to be a particular size and that will in turn refer to the size of the holes in the „plate‟
such as 10mm, 5mm, 3mm plate etc. Similarly, the knives may be a single knife or two or even
three separate blades of which some may be fixed (by „lugs‟ or „keys‟ located on the inside of the
chamber) and others loose (rotating on the spindle of the worm and against other knives that are
fixed) but in general most mincing machines being used will have a single blade that rotates with
the feeding worm and against the plate.

Meat may be minced for a number of purposes. Meat is minced and sold by itself as a product
for use by the consumer in the cooking and preparation of meals. It can be minced to create a
more manageable material for use in making sausages and burgers or it may be minced and
mixed with other (meat or non-meat) ingredients and in that mixed state may either be further
processed to produce „nugget‟ type of re-formed chunks, sold „fresh‟ in the unmixed form or be
cooked in order to produce further processed food items. Some shops may be required to mince
specific meats (usually in sight of their customer) such as beef fillet in order to produce a minced
beef to be used for beef, or steak tartare. The beef or steak tartare is a minced beef that may have
some seasoning added before being eaten raw.

Within the E.U., legislation regarding minced meats is prepared under the appropriate E.U.

directive which currently is 94/65/EC which relates to minced meat & meat preparations. From
the directive, related regulations (and amendments to regulations) are produced and over the
years there have been quite a number. The Minced Meat and Meat Preparations (Hygiene)
Regulations 1995 being a major one of the regulations on which a number of the further
amendments have been based, such as; Meat Products and Minced Meat and Meat Preparations
(Hygiene)(Amendment)(England)Regulations 2003; and; Food Hygiene (England) (Amendment)
Regulations 2008 (which also includes minced meats). It is vital to any producer of minced
meats that they keep themselves aware of the content of these regulations since the many
restrictions can have very far reaching consequences for a meat business. Factors that they do
include cover aspects of operators dress during production, age of the meat from time of
slaughter to processing (and then to sale) and what can at times appear to be extremely severe
requirements on the microbiological aspects of the minced meat being produced. Many in the
U.K. believe that a large part of the restrictions are brought about due to the more popular
demand for minced meats for steak tartare in some of the countries within the E.U. (where that
product is generally more popular) and with little cognisance being given to the fact that steak
tartare is in fact in very limited in demand within the U.K. Many of the other countries within
the E.U. having little use for a minced meat that is to be later cooked as a part of the recipe. In
view of the very severe restrictions it therefore becomes necessary that a meat plant operator
who seeks to become involved in this kind of product should take the precaution of ensuring that
one of the members of their management team at least, probably employed in a technical
capacity, should be given direct responsibility to keep abreast of the subject.

However, let us continue further about the process of mincing. Mincing is usually done in two
stages. The first stage is usually to mince through a larger „plate‟. In the case of the larger meat
manufacturer the large „breaker‟ mincing machines may be fitted with a 20 or 25mm plate that
effectively reduces the size in order that a better „mix‟ of the meat can be achieved. However,
the need for the guards on the exit from mincing machines is a continuous point to remember and
as recent as the latter part of 2007 a butcher in the U.K. was prosecuted by the local authority
when a worker, using a mincing plate with 2cm (20mm) holes, in trying to „clean‟ the end of the
plate, put his finger into one of the holes and had it chopped off. Such „accidents‟ can be

prevented with just a little forward thinking. (Ref: EHN News December 2007; Vol. 22 N0. 49;
London, England.). This point is worth noting when large mincing machines such as those
described for „breaker‟ machines that are commonly fitted with 20 or 25mm plates. The use of a
„goose neck‟ on such machines (which is described later in the section on dicing) could be a very
valuable addition for the astute meat processor to save the embarrassment of potential
prosecution under Health & Safety at work legislation. For the initial breaking of frozen blocks
of meat, the use of the „flaking‟ machine may perhaps be a more sensible option. Flaking
machines, like mincing machines usually have a hopper with a feeding „neck‟ large enough to
take the blocks of meat of a size that equates with a normal meat carton but long enough to
prevent people getting their arms down it. The neck feeds into a chamber fitted with a rotating
drum that has quite heavy blades that, as the drum rotates, flake the meat away from the frozen
block of meat. The flaked particles discharge at the bottom of the machine into a suitable tray
and are of a size that enables them to be easily handled by a standard type mincing machine. In a
similar manner smaller operators may perhaps mince (fresh meat - not frozen) first through a
10mm plate and the mincing machine may be fitted with a special „worm‟ that has a partially
hollowed out centre close to the point at which the knife operates by the plate. A hose fitted
externally to the end of the „worm‟ outside the mincer can then take some excess gristle that may
be produced as the knives „foul‟ and then discharges into the cavity inside the machine. The
„gristle‟ waste can then be removed separately from the minced meat. This material while not
being a preferred product for human consumption may find a ready market as a pet food (Pet
food in itself being a market that requires a considerable meat input and enjoys a considerable
turnover of over £1 billion per annum). The minced meat from the first pass through the
machine is then returned to the mincing machine (or preferably the mincer/blender machine).
The mincer/blender machine is usually fitted with agitating paddles inside the hopper that will
enable the minced meat to receive a thorough blending in order to produce an even mix when
minced for a second time. The second passing through the mincing machine will probably be on
a much finer plate, possibly a 5mm or 3mm plate depending on the intended use (smaller
operators may in fact use the same machine for both passes but will change the plate before the
second pass and, in the absence of a blender, the meat may be „mixed‟ or „blended‟ by hand prior
to the second pass). Each time that the meat is passed through the mincing operation though, it
must be remembered that there will be some rise in the temperature of the meat. The physical

mixing and grinding involves considerable energy movement, some of which must pass into the

As each of these processes of mincing does provide a slight rise in temperature in the meat it is
necessary to consider methods to combat this effect and one way that is quite common is for the
meat that is to be minced to have had the temperature reduced down to –1oC prior to any mincing
(which is above the temperature where neat freezes but is still quite cold) or alternatively for the
mince, after the first mince and during the blending for the final mincing to be mixed with pellets
of frozen carbon dioxide or „dry ice‟. Using such materials though does carry some risk and need
to be viewed with some caution. It is possible that some larger, entire pellets of dry ice that enter
the mincing chamber are hard enough to cause enough resistance against the metal knives in the
mincer to create minor fractures to the metal. It must be remembered that the dry ice will reduce
the temperature of the metal as well as the meat and make it just that much more fragile. Of
course, another alternative to this is that after the first pass through the mincing machine, the
meat may be returned to a good, cold chiller that has a strong air current, for a time. This latter
method does have the disadvantage that it permits some oxidation of the mince and in so doing
may in fact allow the change of myoglobin to metmyoglobin to commence much sooner than it
otherwise would, especially if it is not carried out under the strictest of controls. In the case of
retail packs of minced beef the balance between combating temperature rise and maintenance of
colour stability in the product can itself be a major headache.

For large scale retail packing, the meat which has passed twice through the mincing machine
may be placed into the hopper of yet another machine which is able to feed the meat in a more
appropriate width for the packs and, in conjunction with on-line weighing equipment, knives will
„cut‟ the mince into appropriately sized pieces that will meet the requirement for weight (for
where average weight packs are needed this process is essential to maintain the high volumes of
production needed. More information on average weights appears later). This machine doesn‟t
actually „mince‟ the machine a third time but merely forces it out through a plate to give an
impression of mince. It will of course have some effect on the temperature of the mince but this
is not quite as great as that of the actual mincing. Once the meat is through this machine, packed
and labelled, the finished packs may be returned to a chiller where a „blast chill‟ effect can

prove quite effective at reducing any undesirable temperature factors that may have been brought
about by the processes. Some further information about „average weights‟ appears later.

Sausages have been in production in various forms for many, many years and in many, many
sizes in most countries of the world. They include amongst the general group contained under
the name of sausage; salami, haggis, black pudding (which although it is contained within a
casing, the main protein constituent of that product is blood) and of course the more common
British type of sausage that is regularly eaten as a breakfast dish in many countries. They can
variously include meat mixed with some cereal or they can be 100% meat and the meat variously
used in their production may be beef, pork, game and even some poultry. For some of the
European salamis and sausages they may also include goats, donkeys & horses. Some are made
to be eaten hot and some are made to be eaten cold. Some are made with meats that are cured
and/or marinated during their manufacture and some of them may then be smoked before being
eaten while some are not smoked and are simply matured prior to eating. One thing that they do
have in common is that they usually involve the meat filling being stuffed into „casings‟ which
are made from various parts of the cleaned intestines of different animals. Technology even in
the field of casings has also moved on and the use of re-formed collagen is widely used for this
purpose, as are one or two other „synthetic‟ materials.    Processing of sausages, similarly can
involve simply mincing the meat and mixing with spices and seasonings prior to filling while
other recipes quite definitely require processing in a bowl chopper. Filling also may simply be
done through mincing machines fitted with an appropriate nozzle after the plate or through
simple hand operated filling machines (either vertical or horizontal types). Larger operators may
use large automatic filling machines that are capable of providing portion control on the
sausages, linking and, if necessary, skinning to produce „skinless sausages‟. A few simple
recipes are given near the end of the book for some sausages but again, in view of the vast range
that can be covered by the subject of „sausages‟ as a whole it is considered enough here to say
that sausages do play a very important part in the meat trade throughout the world.

The hand mixing of meat with seasoning though is a process that some people have adopted and

used for years while others would scorn it and insist that for proper mixing to be done a bowl
chopper must be used. Even the use of a „spare‟ pastry mixer has been seen to be the „norm‟ in
some businesses, but the finished product processed in that way did always appear to have a
reliable consistency. Indeed in the few examples for sausages recipes given, some recipes will
try to give an option of making them with a bowl chopper or without a bowl chopper.
No recommendation is made of the type of filler needed either since this would depend on the
size of the operation and the quantity to be produced. So it must be accepted that in many cases
even the bowl chopper and the filling machines can be variable functions.

Simple bowl choppers may have three blades and only a single speed for rotating or „revolving‟
the bowl. Others may have six (or more) blades and also have several speeds for revolving the
bowl. It cannot be said that one is right and the other is wrong, it depends to a large extent on
what has become the norm for the person producing the product. As long as the product is
consistent with previous productions each time it is produced and the customers like the product
then the system used is correct for that business. In the example recipes in this book the amount
of bowl chopping has been described by „number of revolutions‟ of the bowl. This is done in
order to achieve a degree of consistency in the mixing and chopping of the mix, to try and ensure
that the second batch is similar to the first batch. It is of course necessary to be comfortable that
the mix being achieved is that required for the product and that it is in fact consistent with the
number of revolutions and the amount of chopping needed. Is the mix too coarse? Is the mix
too fine? How does the end product cook? The product must be looked at in its final stage to
say with certainty that the process is „just right‟. Some experimentation may be necessary and,
once a satisfactory product has been achieved, the number of revolutions on any particular
equipment used that it took to achieve that product can be used as the standard to record and
keep for future productions. Once this is done though, it is better to record the type of machine
and the number and speed of the blades and the bowl for a similar product to be made at a later
date with other equipment. Does this mean though that a product that is well liked and sells well,
that is produced by a process that doesn‟t use a bowl chopper, is wrong? Of course it is not
wrong. It is a product made in one way that is liked and sought after. This is why in this book
individual processes are not discussed or even evaluated, since any evaluation would depend
upon knowing with certainty what all of the equipment was, and what it could, and did, achieve
(and what the customer - or final consumer felt about the product)..

As has already been said, filling machines too are in themselves almost a subject worthy to
consider, from the simple filling nozzles fitted onto small mincing machines, some small hand
operated filling machines, larger electrically operated filling machines and the very large semi-
automatic or fully automatic filling machines that are capable of producing quite exact portion
sizes for sausages and linking them. Following beyond these processes are of course the
machines that can remove the skins (to produce skinless sausages) and then the conveyors that
take the finished sausages into rapid freeze systems to produce Individual Quick Frozen (IQF)

In the case of burger production, the meat prior to its second mincing may have seasonings
added prior to the blending being carried out and before the meat is minced for the second time.
This blending may occur separately after the meat has been minced or it may be done in the
hopper of the mincing machine which will carry out the second mincing if the machine is indeed
fitted with „blending paddles‟. The seasoned mince from this second pass will then be placed into
the hopper of a „forming‟ machine that will produce a formed „burger‟ of consistent size, weight
and consistency of product. These machines usually discharge the burgers on to a small piece of
paper or film that enables them to be packed as „columns‟ and then prevents them re-forming
into one large piece of seasoned meat! If the burgers are to be sold „fresh‟ they will probably
need to be boxed so there will probably be at most only about 5 or six burgers in height in any
„column‟ of burgers, with possibly six or ten columns fitting into a box, these columns are of
course placed into the boxes before the box lid is closed. If they are to be a frozen product the
most efficient method is for the burgers to discharge from the forming machine by conveyor onto
another conveyor that leads through a liquid nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide tunnel freezer
system. These tunnels operate by running a mesh type conveyor along a covered way for a
distance of some 20 to 30 feet at a controlled speed while sprays of liquid nitrogen or liquid
carbon dioxide are aimed along the width of the belt. Liquid gas freezing tunnels can usually be
leased from the gas suppliers, a process that can provide some assistance in offsetting the capital
outlay of such a business. It must be remembered though that these tunnels, and their associated
pipe work (which due to the heavy lagging necessary for the temperatures involved makes them
quite bulky) and the storage tanks do take up a considerable amount of space. Similar results can
be obtained using spiral freezers. Spiral Freezers operate by means of normal freezing
technology and with high powered fans directing the cold air onto the product that then follows a

spiral course from entry to exit but the large height requirement and initial cost of this kind of
equipment can often prove to be prohibitive.

Burgers can of course be formed by the use of small hand operated machines but in view of the
small scale production capacity of such systems, and the variety of systems available, it is not
proposed to discuss them any further here.


Dicing of meat is quite often carried out by hand but where very large quantities of diced meat
are required dicing machines are on occasion used. Again, there are a number of different types
of dicing machines and the results of the dicing can itself be quite variable. Perhaps one of the
earliest forms of mechanical dicing was that of using a „kidney plate‟ instead of a mincing plate
in a mincing machine. The so named „kidney plate‟ was in fact the same diameter round as the
normal mincing plate but instead of having the holes normally associated with mincing it had
only two holes. The circle of the plate was separated into two parts with a „centre bar‟ that
included a hole in the centre (to take the end of the worm for fixing & stability). This left two
„semi circles‟ (not unlike in shape to the outline appearance of two „kidneys‟) through which the
meat could be forced after passing the mincing blade. It was a crude method and a particularly
dangerous method since any operator who put their fingers to the plate to „clean the meat away‟
could quite easily push their fingers through the plate and onto the moving blade. This was later
limited to some extent by a requirement that a „goose neck‟ had to be fitted to the mincer when
using such a plate. The „goose neck was a tube (of a diameter to match that of the opening from
the mincer plate) that was held in place under the collar of the mincer and followed horizontally
away from the mincer for about 15cm and then went through a right angle turn and continued
vertically downwards for some 15 or 20cm. The dicing itself was quite crude and, in view of
this, and the potential dangers in use, it is now many years since this type of machine was
popular and in regular use. However, the need for the guards on the exit from mincing machines
does continue. (Although this has already been written once it can be well worth repeating) As
recent as the latter part of 2007 a butcher in the U.K. was prosecuted by the local authority when
a worker, using a mincing plate with 2cm holes in trying to „clean‟ the end of the plate, put his
finger into one of the holes and had it chopped off. Such „accidents‟ can be prevented with

just a little forward thinking. (Ref: EHN News December 2007; Vol. 22 N0. 49; London,
England.). This point is worth noting when using any mincing machines (including small
mincing machines) with 20mm holes or those described earlier for „breaker‟ machines that are
commonly fitted with 20 or 25mm plates and indeed any person who chooses to use a „kidney‟
plate to dice meat. The use of a „goose neck on such machines could be a very valuable addition
for the astute meat processor to save the embarrassment of potential prosecution under Health &
Safety at work legislation.

A more common type of dicing machine that is often seen in use involves a hopper similar in
size and shape to the shallow type of hopper seen on some of the small to medium sized
mincing machines (to hold the meat to be diced). This rectangular hopper has an aperture inlet in
to it that is also in shape rectangular. This aperture, or slot, is about 40cm long by 10cm or 15cm
wide and 10 to 15cm deep, effectively creating a „square cylinder‟ into which the meat to be
diced is placed. Once the aperture is filled with meat, the operation causes a lid to slide
across the top of the aperture and then a square headed „piston‟ forces the meat through the
„cylinder‟ towards a grid of blades which have openings of about 11/2 to 2cm by 11/2 to 2cm, not
unlike a „chipping plate‟ used for potatoes. The meat is forced through these blades where a
single spinning blade „chops‟ off the meat being forced through the grid. This method depends
on the meat from the hopper being placed into the aperture as much as possible in „long strips‟ to
achieve the optimum dice from the machine. The force of the piston down the cylinder however
does of course compress the meat as it approaches the grid and, due to natural expansion and
relaxation of the meat as it passes through the grid some variation in length of pieces can occur.
The end of any pieces of meat being fed along the „piston‟ may also in themselves create small
pieces that are again „chopped‟ by the machine. The final result can be that of dice being cut into
pieces that are too small or too large (due to the relaxation of the compressed meat after the
cutting) for the product needed by the consumer. The small pieces, often referred to as „fines‟
can easily break up in the liquid during the cooking processes and effectively cause the finished
cooked product to be essentially a very rich gravy but to be quite lacking in noticeable pieces of
meat. The larger pieces can present equally difficult problems in that some diners get few pieces
of meat from the product while others receive very large pieces. Also, the large pieces can cause
problems for other processes that follow after cooking, particularly if the cooked meat is to be

filled, for example into pies or „ready meals‟ by machine where they may themselves cause
blockage on the filler heads of the filling machines.

Other dicing machines are increasingly becoming available that do not use any „compressing‟
action on the meat in their dicing action and they are gradually replacing the older type of dicing
machine described. Some are described as „2 dimensional‟ dicing machines which require the
meat to have a maximum „thickness‟ prior to being fed into it to be diced by various sets of
circulating blades. The positioning of the meat on the in-feed belts on these machines can be
quite critical in obtaining the best and most even dice but they can, operated properly, be very
effective. Others, are often large, high volume dicers and are described as „3 dimensional‟
dicing machines that basically have conveyors to carry the meat horizontally under either a
reciprocating or a circular blade which is set to the required height and that faces the oncoming
meat (that is usually held down on its approach by an „overhead conveyor‟ travelling at an
equal speed to the lower conveyor). This effectively slices the meat to the correct „steak‟
thickness and it then it passes through vertically positioned circular blades that cut the meat in
one direction to make „strips‟. These strips of meat then fall onto another belt, running at right
angles that carry it towards another set of circular blades that again cut the strips into smaller
pieces to produce the dice. Some small pieces of dice are still unavoidable but there do appear to
be far less small pieces and the excessively large pieces are effectively eliminated. Other dicing
machines are also becoming available that by various other methods do not „compress‟ the meat
to dice it and so are able to produce a more satisfactory end product. With all dicing machines
one point that is of major importance is that all blades must be kept sharp. Blunt blades fail to
cut the meat and probably at best only „tear‟ chunks from the main block of meat.


As has been said earlier in the book, freezing of meat was found to be quite a good means of
preservation, and, due to the extended shelf life that was obtainable it was also found to some
extent to be a means of „levelling‟ prices to minimise the price fluctuations at certain times of
the year. The simple mechanics of freezing involve reducing the temperature of the air which is
around the meat to be below minus two degrees Celsius (-2°C) or, on the Fahrenheit scale, 28.4

degrees. In fact although 0°C is the freezing temperature for water, meat does not begin to
freeze until it falls to, or below, -1.8°C (28.75°F) and it does become necessary to be aware of
this fact during the freezing process since meat taken down to a temperature of 0°C would not
actually be „frozen‟ but in a number of countries and regions is classed as being „crusted‟.
Again, in some regions, and some countries, „crusting‟ of meat prior to delivery (even to as low
as –4°C in some cases), if not actually sought after, is a quite accepted appearance for fresh meat.
The acceptance of meat that has been „crusted‟ though is one which may or may not be
acceptable to all and, since it is only „an opinion‟ of some, it will not be pursued here.

The simple process of just reducing the temperature though, while producing meat that is indeed
in a state of being frozen may also be the cause of some other problems such as that of increased
quantities of „drip‟ that becomes more evident when the meat is later thawed for use and also,
„freezer burn‟, a condition that causes damage to the structure, taste and flavour of the meat.
Similarly, the rapid chilling of meat to too low a temperature shortly after slaughter can also
create the condition now known as „cold shortening‟. It has been reported that this first became
evident to the New Zealand traders who tried to speed up their lamb production process by
moving the lamb carcasses into freezers too soon following the slaughter process. The rapid
reduction in the carcase temperature after slaughter meant that the muscles were prevented from
going through the normal processes of aerobic and anaerobic glycolysis to reach the state of
rigor. Because of the low temperatures, the meat didn‟t achieve the natural levels of lactic acid
for normal rigor but went into rigor due to an alien temperature range and the subsequent meat
was then found, on cooking, to be tough.

It is now generally appreciated that freezing meat slowly (and indeed any other foodstuffs)
causes the ice crystals created by the freezing process (that are formed inside the cells of the
product) to be much larger in the meat (or other food) than is desirable. If the meat is frozen
quickly however, the size of the ice crystals that are created are much smaller and have been
found to cause much less damage to the tissues of the meat when it is thawed. Fast freezing does
NOT eliminate the problem of drip by any means, but it does reduce the problem. Fast freezing
may in general be carried out basically by two slightly different methods; Blast freezing in static
chambers (and must include here blast freezing that uses spiral (or gyro) freezers); or by the use
of liquid gasses. The preference for either one or another can be due to personal preference, the

dictates efficiency of the production flow or to the overall operating cost, or perhaps to some
extent a little of all of them but, however, the results of the freezing operation must be one that
satisfies the need of the individual business.

Freezer burn is caused by a sublimation of moisture (initially) from the surface of the meat,
causing a denaturing of the meat itself and may be controlled by improvements in the wrapping
and packaging of the meat prior to freezing. There may be much discussion about wrapping and
packing and the benefits and pitfalls of the different methods but the main point in reducing the
risk of freezer burn is to minimise the risk of moisture being able to escape from the meat. If the
meat is „loosely‟ held in a package such as modified atmosphere there does remain a space for an
atmosphere (that is frozen) to receive moisture from within the meat. In the case of meat that is
vacuum packed, there is little (if any) atmosphere for the moisture in the meat to escape into. So,
if the meat is wrapped, fairly closely with some form of membrane (and that may indeed include
even a good quality thick paper that is wrapped closely to the meat) the risks of freezer burn can
be reduced.

One point that must be urgently remembered in the designing of any meat plant that may be
using a „blast freezing‟ system is that of installing a „heater mat‟ below the floor surface. The
ongoing life of freezer stores themselves, other than just blast freezers, can also benefit at the
time of construction with the inclusion of such a feature. Due to the very low temperatures that
will be used, and the contraction of the subfloor surfaces that occurs in freezers and blast
freezers, the absence of a heater mat can easily result in cracking and disintegration of the floor
of the freezer itself. Many cold stores have in the past paid the price for omitting this very basic

Blast freezing is achieved in the main by two main methods:

a)    The most common one is by „blast freezing‟ where conventional refrigeration techniques
      are enhanced by means of passing high volumes and high speed currents of air over a coil,
      or coils that are filled with a specific refrigerant that has been taken down to a very low
      temperature. The velocity of the air passed over the coil being accelerated by the use of
      large fans directed towards the product to be frozen. The refrigerants used may vary both

     in the size of the blast freezer, the operation involved and perhaps also to meet
     legislative demands. The size of the fans accelerating the air also may change to meet the
     needs of the particular operation but basically they do all work to the same principle. The
     product to be frozen is usually carefully placed in racks that are sited on an opposite wall to
     the fans, usually on racks and of course, ensuring that there is adequate space around each
     pack of product to enable a good air passage around the product to be frozen. The time
     required for freezing in such a „blast freezer‟ is calculated, usually on a factor of the
     blast freezer working at a temperature of -40°; the air speed in the freezer; the size of
     the item to be frozen and the temperature of the product on entry into the freezer. When the
     „blast freezing‟ cycle is completed the product can either be removed to a conventional
     freezer or it can remain within the blast freezer but, once the blast freezing process is
     completed, either the freezer temperature and air flow may be adjusted, often by computer
     control, to allow the chamber to operate at normal freezer temperatures and air flows or If a
     separate freezer store is available then the blast freezer can be emptied to prepare for a
     further batch to freeze.

b)   The „spiral‟ or „gyro‟ freezer also uses a similar process to the blast freezer but to make the
     Process more „continuous‟ it operates with an in feed of product at the top of the machine
     (The machine itself may be in excess of 20 feet tall) and feeding onto a slowly moving
     conveyor where the product is exposed to the high velocity, low temperature air for the
     given length of (and time that it takes to pass through) conveyor. The main problem with
     the use of this equipment is the actual restriction on size of particles. For diced meats,
     burgers or sausages it can be ideal but if it is boxed cartons of meat then the gyro freezer
     becomes somewhat impractical.

Other methods of quick freezing involve the use of cryogenics, and usually involve liquid
nitrogen or liquid carbon dioxide tunnels where liquid gasses are sprayed onto product. The food
is placed onto a conveyor that feeds through from the outside to run inside a closed chamber
where it is sprayed with the liquid gas. As the boiling point of liquid nitrogen is minus one
hundred and ninety five point eight degrees Celsius (-195.8°C or –320°F) at normal atmospheric
pressure, with a slowly moving conveyor passing through the chamber it is obvious that within a
very short space of time the product exposed to such low temperature conditions will cause the

product temperature itself to have been reduced. Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) (although not
quite as cold as liquid nitrogen) similarly does have a temperature of -78°5 when changing from
the solid state to liquid (the solid state being commonly known as dry ice and the material in this
state has a temperature of -110°C). So Liquid CO2 also has a dramatic effect on any product
exposed to it. Again, product frozen through these units are usually smaller exposed pieces of
meat rather than boxed cartons of meat and the product, on exiting from the freezer tunnels is
packed and placed into a conventional freezer for storage. Another alternative to the gas tunnels
is the use of a cabinet that can be „flooded‟ with liquid nitrogen. In this method, the product is
placed onto racks that are in turn placed onto a wheeled base and the entire load is wheeled into
the cabinet which is then closed (with a very secure seal) and the machine turned on. The
machine can be set for various times (to accommodate different loads) and the liquid gasses are
sprayed into the cabinet from sides and top and the exhausting of spent gasses is completed
automatically before the cabinet may be opened. The product, once removed from the cabinet is
again placed into a conventional freezer. Freezer cabinets of this type may be more acceptable
for freezing boxed cartons of meat as it is possible to arrange cartons onto a pallet (with spacers
inserted between layers and rows of cartons) and the entire pallet can be „wheeled in‟ to the
cabinet for freezing and wheeled out to move to a traditional holding freezer.

In the various methods of freezing mentioned here, depending upon the speed of the mechanical
aspects of the process it is probable that the smaller pieces will have been frozen to a very low
temperature through to the centre, but for any larger pieces of product it is possible that the
extremely low temperature may not have penetrated „all the way‟ to the centre of the product. In
the case of the blast freezer that automatically adjusts after the initial freezing process this
possibility is less critical in operation since the low temperature achieved during the blast
freezing is only changed within the chamber over a period of time once the blast freezing process
has ended. The normal freezing process then continues (probably at about -25°C but the
low temperature achieved in the blast freezer chamber has to stabilise (or equalise) from the -
40°C to -25°C during which time the product is still in the colder atmosphere. However, with
the product that is packed and moved on into conventional freezer stores, the extremes of the low
temperatures that they have been exposed to continues to penetrate deeper into the product, much
faster than could be achieved by freezing only using a standard freezer, but it does depend on the
temperature of the freezer store being sufficiently low. Eventually a stabilising (or equalising)

effect of the temperature is achieved with the freezer store temperature being maintained at
the target temperature (that is usually in the region of -20 to -25°C). The target temperature
and the necessary equalising period for the full penetration of temperature is calculable and
obviously the considerations involved in this will include taking account of the original size,
weight and thickness of the material being frozen, the velocity of the air speed in the freezer, the
length of time of the blast freezing process (or the length and the speed of any liquid gas freezing
tunnel) and the temperature of the eventual holding freezer. In the case of product frozen in a
normal freezer unit without the benefits of „blast freezing‟ the time taken to penetrate to the
centre of the piece of meat can in itself be quite considerable.

A section has been kept for packing but as most of this subject has already been covered
elsewhere in the book it is not proposed to continue further in any great detail here. The main
point to consider here should be that if the meat is to be frozen then it is preferable that exposure
time for the surface of the meat to a freezing atmosphere should be minimised. Meat that does
have surfaces exposed to an atmosphere may certainly be frozen but the risks of freezer burn
must be remembered and as it does take some time for freezer burn to become evident, stricter
controls on the shelf life of such products may be an adequate answer.

Methods of packing are being continually developed and for any person involved in any way
with the meat industry they should ensure that they keep themselves up to date with new
developments.    This may be achieved in several ways; by reading trade publications; by
attending exhibitions and seminars on relevant subjects and when possible by visiting any other
business that it is possible to visit where a different form of packaging may be being used. This
latter point is not always an easy option but if the meat trade does wish to move forward then a
genuine „pooling‟ of ideas is necessary and where one visits another meat plant it is possible that
a new pair of eyes may see the potential for making slight changes to enable even further
development to take place. Where such visits to other meat plants are possible, a reciprocal visit
may be more likely and then it may prove that the genuine unity shown by such actions is proof
that the meat trade does wish to move forward.

Packaging it must be remembered will include wrapping, packaging and outer packaging and in

doing so may also produce some side effects that may require consideration, such as the disposal

of used packaging or „off cuts‟ of wrapping or packaging materials. If a person uses any form of
packaging then they may be the most ideally placed person to pass comments requiring attention
back to manufacturers of packing materials. The manufacturers of packaging materials being
themselves an obvious place to seek advice on the materials (and disposal) since problems
encountered by one company with their packaging would cause the manufacturer of the
packaging to seek ways of dealing with that problem. This may involve disposal of waste as well
as the more obvious points of meat packing itself.

Labelling has been mentioned before but with such an important subject there are no apologies
for any repeat information that may be given. Labelling is a natural progression from packaging.
A wrapped or packaged product first of all needs a label to identify the contents of the pack by
name and also to give other information that may be wanted by the customer. There are certain
aspects of labelling that are demanded by legislation and can be quite specific (particularly in the
case of packs intended for retail sale), other aspects are common sense such as identifying the
product by name while a third are items which have been brought about by technical advances.
This latter item of course includes bar coding. The purpose of the bar coding may be of some
benefit to the supplier in aiding the selection of product to make up the order for delivery but
another major purpose is to enable rapid identification and traceability of the product to its
origin by both the customer and the supplier through the records of the supplier. Unsought as the
aspect of product recall may be seen to be it can be and is a harsh fact of modern life and
traceability codes may in fact help to provide vital assistance to supplier and customer alike. It
should ideally link to all of the information needed about the product itself (its history, how
much was involved in the input batch; where any other parts of that batch are stored or where
they have been delivered to) and indeed to the packaging of the product. It should enable the
supplier to identify how much of that product is on stock, where any other parts of that particular
consignment of meat has been despatched and if any of it is actually in production at the time.

The licence number of the meat packing plant must be used on the label (and if the meat is
intended for export, the closed cartons may require in addition to the product label a seal bearing
the plant licence number that will break if the carton is opened). Weights of product contained
inside the container or packing must obviously be included, as must „tare weights‟, perhaps

giving details of gross, net and tare weights in the case of wholesale packs to aid the customer
„Display until‟ dates, „Best Before dates‟ and, ‟Use by Dates‟ plus storage conditions and
temperatures (including the advisory information if a product has previously been frozen) should
be included. These are the more obvious ones. Within the E.U. however, a very important point
concerning meat, and beef in particular, that is often omitted (either by error or on purpose one
cannot say) are the requirements for the „Beef Labelling Regulations‟. These regulations require
some quite specific information and they do affect almost all people who sell beef. This
information may be available in the bar code on the label but the further requirements are quite
specific that it must be written on the label. It doesn‟t apply to, for example, a hotel or canteen
selling the cooked beef to a consumer. It does apply to anyone who supplies beef to the hotel or
canteen and also to almost anyone else who sells fresh or frozen beef. However, in view of the
serious nature of this very important subject (and in view of the way that it is often ignored by
people labelling beef for sale) and despite a reluctance by this author to regularly produce prints
of legislation in the text of the book, this case does appear to be worthy of being an exception.
What follows here is just a part of quite a lengthy guide, produced in the year 2000 by what
was at that time the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (now named DEFRA), that
covers some of the main aspects to these regulations. The parts shown here have been edited to
remove those parts where some of the guide referred to another part either within that guide or in
other guides or regulations. If there is any doubt about any aspect of these regulations it is
advisable to contact the government department responsible for this legislation. As will be
noticed, this regulation does include a requirement where meat is NOT packed, but on open
display in a shop, to have a notice near to it to inform customers of the more relevant details.
This aspect is rarely complied with.

1.     What is the beef labelling system?

       1.1      The Beef Labelling system is a European Union (EU) wide system which is intended to provide buyers with
                clear, reliable information about the beef on sale. A key requirement of the system is that it should enable
                beef on sale to be traced back to where it originated. Retailers may wish to copy the information to hand out
                to their customers, informing them of the traceability that is in place for beef.

2.     What are the new beef labelling rules?

       2.1      New compulsory rule apply for the labelling of fresh or frozen beef (including veal) from animals
                slaughtered on or after 1 September 2000. All beef offered for sale in the EU must be labelled with certain

              compulsory information. The beef labelling system governs all sales in the supply chain and is in two parts:

              (i)         Compulsory labelling and,

              (ii)        approved labelling (under the Beef Labelling Scheme).

              The compulsory system is to be introduced in two separate stages and requires you to label your beef or veal
              with prescribed information. As provision of this information is mandatory, you do not need to apply to
              MAFF‟s (now named DEFRA) Beef Labelling Section for its approval.

              All other labelling requires approval under the Beef Labelling Scheme if it makes claims about the origin,
              characteristics or production conditions of the beef you sell or the animal (s) of origin. This follows the same
              rules as the Scheme introduced in 1997 for the requirements for approved labelling).

3.   Do the new beef labelling rules apply to you/your business?

              Yes, if you are selling fresh or frozen beef or veal anywhere in the supply chain. For example, the following
              types of operator must comply with both the compulsory and approved labelling systems: slaughterhouse,
              cutting plant, cold store, re-packaging centre and re-wrapping centre. The rules also apply to businesses
              selling beef to the end consumer including shops, mobile shops, supermarkets, catering butcher‟s business or
              farm shops. Hotels, restaurants and other catering facilities are not subject to the beef labelling rules, but
              those from whom such establishments buy beef are. Consumers of beef and beef products from catering
              establishments may therefore expect that information equivalent to that provided on labels on fresh/frozen
              beef/veal should be available to them on request, particularly where claims are made (e.g. on restaurant
              menus) as to the nature of the beef on offer. Beef sold to the final consumer in the form of processed products
              (e.g. sausages, pies, ready-meals or canned beef) is not subject to the new rules, nor are sales of live calves or
              finished cattle.

4.   What type of beef must comply with the labelling rules?

              Fresh and frozen beef e.g. a whole carcass, quarters, fresh or frozen sirloin or rump steak. This includes
              minced beef and veal, and pure uncooked beef burger patty containing no significant amounts of salt and
              pepper, and no flavourings or additional ingredients. Beef and veal in processed products and offal, for
              example, processed beef burgers or steak and kidney pies, are not covered by the beef labelling system. Such
              products do not need to be labelled with the compulsory terms, nor do their labels require approval under the
              Beef Labelling Scheme. Fresh or frozen beef and veal means all products falling within CN codes 0201,
              0202, 0206, 10 95 and 0206 29 91.

5.   What is labelling?

              Labelling covers written information given to customers at the point of sale. This includes information given
              on packaging material and on labels near the product. It also includes information given at the point of sale in
              advertisements, posters, announcements and leaflets associated with the product. Information given by word
              of mouth is not covered, although it is an offence to mislead the consumer about a product. Information
              conveyed by pictures or symbols may require approval too. For example, a veal label with a picture of calves
              in an open system would require approval as it implies that the veal came from calves reared that way. If in
              doubt please contact the Beef Labelling Section.

6.   How should beef be labelled?

              Pre-wrapped meat must be labelled on its packaging. If packages are grouped together in a carton, the
              required information may be shown on the carton and omitted from the individual packages within it. If,
              however, the packages are sold without the outer covering, each must be labelled with the required
              information before sale. For non-pre-wrapped meat sold to the end customer, information must be on the
              meat or be displayed in the shop e.g. on a sign on the wall visible to your customers. The display must ensure
              that the meat is distinguishable within the shop so that the customer can see which meat is linked to the
              labelling information. The reference code (s) on display must ensure that the meat can be traced back to its
              source through your records.

The regulations go on to explain that each label must contain information identifying where the
animal was reared, where it was slaughtered and where it was cut. Where it was reared can be
the country (or county) of origin; Where it was slaughtered and where it was cut can both be
given by use if the meat plant licence number

Some parts of this guide have already been extended (often by consumer demand) in that the
breed of the animal and/or the county where it has been reared; beef that is claimed to be
„organic‟ etc. is being required to be included on the label. A label in itself though can only carry
a limited amount of information and customer goodwill and trust in a reliable meat trader must
be accepted as a recognised fact in itself.

Going beyond that which is required by law to be included on labels on packs of meat is the
increasing demand for nutritional information and cooking information which often in itself
requires additionally that a pre-printed label be produced, specific to each individual product,
and incorporating some of the additional information often on a secondary label placed on the
rear of the pack, the amount of information being required suggesting that if it were all on the
front of the main label the label would be so large that the customer wouldn‟t be able to see the
meat! Once this point is reached however it does indicate the need for a specific label for each
product (since nutritional information varies between products) and it cannot readily be a
„universal‟ label that contains only the information that can be printed out by the label printer at
the time of labelling.

Storage of the finished meat or meat preparations requires, and deserves, just as much care as
does the storage from slaughter to the first processing. The wall and floor finishes in both meat
storage areas and in despatch areas should match the standards of care that have been used for
the meat previously and must reflect that the product being handled is a food commodity and is
worthy of the care needed for the product that is the mainstay of the business. Hand wash
basins (with appropriate warm water supply) with adequate drying material and disposal bins
need to be provided as should knife and equipment sterilizers if there is any chance that such
equipment will be used in the despatch area. Lighting again needs to be considered carefully.

Remember that at this point some open meat may be being despatched and whether open meat or
packed meat, labels will have to be read as well as product being checked. If it is open meat that
is being despatched this may be the final opportunity to make checks that there are no faults with
the product being moved. If it is cartons or trays of product then it should be adequate for labels
to be read and details noted. If indeed the carton labels are to be bar code scanned then ideally
there needs to be a point at which the bar code scanning equipment can „download‟ the
information. It is possible that even more separation may have to be considered as the meat
moves from the storage area to the despatch, depending both upon the state that it is in and the
temperature that it is being held at.

Packaged meat (that which has been packed and is contained in cardboard cartons) is not
permitted to be held in the same area as „open meat‟ or meat that is not packed. Cardboard is
held to be a potential contaminant so the packed product must be kept separated from the open
meat. Meat that is frozen must be held at temperatures that meet the standard of being not higher
than -25°C and similarly chilled meat needs to be held as close as possible to 0°C.

It may be at this stage that any lapses in the adequate care needed for the product could have
very serious effects on the overall shelf life (for which, by this time, the clock is already ticking
and has been for some time). Storage Chillers and freezers (sometimes called cold stores) need to
have a regular monitoring system in place to record temperatures and ideally they should have
some system of alarm to be sounded in the event that the required temperature is not being
maintained. Alarms can be by noise or by light or indeed by both noise and light. More modern
systems have been seen that in addition to providing warning sounds and lights they even send
an e mail alert to refrigeration engineers (either on or off site). Records must be kept of all of
these temperature records in support of the HACCP that has been put in place by the business.

Ideally again, the freezers and chillers should have both an inwards feed of stock from the
production area at one side while at the opposite side there should be an exit to lead into either a
chilled „picking area‟ (which can in turn lead onto the despatch bay) or on to a chilled despatch
area.   The purpose of the „picking area‟ in this case is for the marshalling of goods that may be
required to make up any vehicle load and which may contain more than one single order. The
picking or marshalling area itself then would obviously need to have a good standard of

temperature control to handle the types of product passing through it.

Although it has been written here that „chillers and freezers‟ lead into a picking area, it would not
necessarily follow that there would be both chillers and freezers at the plant, but it is equally
possible that there could be. The standard of temperature control for example for a picking area
at a freezer store could be perhaps at -10 to -15°C (or lower, but definitely not higher) and the
task of picking must be done quickly in order that the product can be returned to the colder
temperature as soon as possible. Any staff who works in such an area must be able to wear
suitably appropriate over clothing for the temperature. A picking area used for both a freezer
store and a chiller store would have to reflect both the possible dangers to the chilled meats
if exposed to sub zero temperatures for too long a period and the dangers to the frozen meat if it
is exposed to above zero temperatures for too long a period. Any dangers to staff can be
accommodated by the wearing of suitable clothing and providing limits on the maximum time
that they work in areas of sub zero temperatures.

Once the details of an order and the time of arrival of the delivery vehicle have been received the
order should be „picked‟ and completed as quickly as possible. The packs of meat (cartons or
distribution type trays) would need to be checked for details of product type, weights and any
necessary codes (probably by means of a bar code scanner onto the carton or tray label) and the
trays or cartons be stacked in a suitable manner onto a pallet and then be wrapped around with a
„pallet wrap‟ (a thin but strong film material to shroud the entire pallet sides) to make it ready for
loading. Obviously if a bar code scanner is being used it makes sense for there to be a „docking
station‟ for the bar code scanner to download the information obtained. Once the vehicle is
secure on the sealed loading bay (with the vehicle refrigeration unit temporarily switched off) the
pallets may be loaded on, the doors of the vehicle closed and then sealed with a seal bearing a
unique number for security purposes. It may be possible that the delivery vehicle will be fitted
with a chilled and a frozen section so it may be necessary to have a single despatch area to
handle the two products. In such cases, efficiency of operation is essential in order to ensure that
neither product is damaged by an adverse temperature. Loading in any despatch area must be
carried out as quickly as possible in order that the vehicle (which should have already been pre-
refrigerated to accommodate the type (s) of load to be carried), once loaded it can have the doors
closed and the temperature control unit of the vehicle can be re-started.


Curing of meats, along with drying processes, which can in turn in some case be related to
smoking, is one of the earliest forms of meat preservation and the process achieves three major
end results. The first is that of preservation; the second is that of the imparting of flavours to the
meat and the third is the often aesthetically pleasing colour changes achieved, particularly after

Salt curing on its own can achieve some of the preservation that is sought and it does impart
some flavour to the meat but the resulting colour of the meat, both cooked and uncooked can
be an aesthetically unappealing grey colour. The addition of saltpetre (Potassium Nitrate or
Sodium Nitrate) particularly to the surface of the meat (from where it penetrates deeper into the
tissues) prior to the salt itself, changes this process and, due to enzymatic and bacterial activity in
the tissues changes the nitrates into nitrites and in so doing moves us forwards towards the start
of the dry curing process which will be discussed next. The changes brought about by the nitrites
causes the myoglobin in the tissues to change into yet another stage, from that of myoglobin with
the nitric oxide reaction to become that of Nitrosometmyoglobin which in turn reduces to
Nitrosomyoglobin and is, on cooking, changed yet again by the application of heat to
Nitrosomyochrome, giving the cooked meat the pleasing pinkish colour. Saltpetre (Potassium
Nitrate sometimes called Bengal saltpetre or Sodium Nitrate, sometimes called Chilli saltpetre) is
generally now not available since it is also one of the primary chemicals used in the manufacture
of gunpowder and some alternative chemicals are used to achieve both the preservative and
colour changing effect in the meat. Ready prepared curing mixes are now commonly available
and most butchers‟ suppliers do carry a range of these „curing mixes‟ that can either be used by
themselves, while some of them may also have some extra ingredients mixed with them to give
specific properties and flavours to the meat. Some of the additional ingredients known to have
been added to cures in the past include various sugars (both brown and white), juniper berries,
coriander Bay Leaves and cloves, but while they may provide some element of change to the
„taste‟ they do not have any specific effect on the „curing‟ of the meat.

                                      DRY CURING

Dry curing itself, while being a process that enables a quite distinctive and popular product to be
produced, it does also have some weaknesses. The preservative action of the salt in dry curing
has to commence on the surface and if any contamination should have penetrated via the bones
into the tissue itself the preservative effect will not be quick enough to achieve its objective. The
process does however have quite a following, particularly in the case of gammons, and when
adequate care is exercised in product selection and handling, combined with detailed attention to
the curing process, which will involve rubbing salt well into all surfaces, especially those where
bone is present, and turning the meat each day, followed by more rubbing in of salt until the cure
gets under way, a high quality product can be produced which will have excellent keeping
qualities. This careful turning of the meat must continue for a period of time, that was usually
reckoned to be about 1 day per lb of meat (equating to metric units this would then roughly
become about 1 day for each 500g, perhaps adding 1 more day for each 5kg of total meat), after
which the meat may be removed and hung to continue the cure in a cool atmosphere (not
necessarily a chiller) where there is a gentle movement of air. Once hung, it can take 3 months
or more before the meat is ready but it will probably keep well for up to a year (or even longer)
in the correct environment.

As mentioned, currently, due to the possible application for terrorist purposes it is not possible to
buy Chile or Bengal saltpetre that is one of the traditional ingredients. The more practical
solution to the problem, unless it is vital that all traditional methods and ingredients are used,
modern ready prepared curing mixtures are available which will work quite well to achieve the
end result. There are quite strict limits imposed by most countries on the amount of nitrite
permitted in cured products and while some of these could be quoted here, the changes in
legislation regarding food contents are quite variable and any figures given could soon be out of
date. It is preferable therefore to carry out some checks to ascertain the permitted levels for the
product and country where it is to be sold. If ready prepared curing mixes are used then the
manufacturers of these mixes should be able to provide some of the assurances needed at that
time. Once provided however, it is worth making a final check prior to manufacturing (and
perhaps exporting) to try to sell a product that may be illegal in the country where it is being
offered for sale. If indeed it is an export, getting the product returned can be a nightmare of its
own proportions sometimes.

In order to overcome some of the problems which may be encountered in dry curing large pieces
of meat, such as gammons, where the thickness of the meat may limit the time for of penetration
of the curing mix, the practice of carrying out some pumping of a curing brine solution into the
deep muscle can help, prior to the traditional bedding and turning of the meat in the curing
mixture. To the „purist‟ this would perhaps detract from the claim of „dry cured‟ in the fullest
sense but it does provide a good alternative product with perhaps a little less risk! As with any
item though that is going to penetrate into the deep muscle of the meat, the perforated needle
used in the pumping process must be kept scrupulously clean. Dry curing though, while
producing a high quality product is demanding on both time and space if a continuity of product
is to be available. The finished yield of meat after the curing will often show considerable loss
of weight and therefore an increase in cost per kg. Many would say though that although there
is a loss in weight (and subsequent increase in cost per kg) the benefits of the improved taste
make the product more desirable and justify that additional cost and customers will often prefer
to pay the slight extra in order to obtain the better quality product that they seek...

The more common alternative to dry curing though is that of using a brine solution where the
meat is stored in the brine solution with some of the thicker pieces of meat being pumped with
some brine prior to immersion. Modern methods go one step further with a multi needle pumping
machine being used which has a slatted moving conveyor which edges the pieces of meat along
while the multi needle head of the machine ensures a thorough penetration throughout all of the
meat being pumped. The multi needle heads on these machines are fitted to react to the presence
of bone by penetrating only until they reach a fixed pressure (such as when they hit bone) so
their use is comparatively safe. Once pumped in this manner the meat need only be immersed in
brine for a short period of time, perhaps a couple of days.

Going beyond the basic pumping of individual pieces of meat for curing have been the attempts
to produce a successful process where the meat is pumped through the arteries and thereby using
the natural blood circulatory system of the animal by inserting a tube into the femoral artery and

then pumping. This method utilised the circulatory system of the animal but where there was any
damage to any of the blood vessels, problems could occur. It eventually proved to be less cost
effective and is now rarely used. Yet another method attempted was one where after an initial
pumping with a multi needle machine the meat is sliced and placed in bags and vacuum packed
to enable the cure to continue while the meat is on its way to market. This process met with
some limited success but may yet be developed further to become a more popular method in time
to come.

Curing, but with a slightly different purpose, that for onwards processing into cooking can
extend even further. Some larger producers who extend their curing into cooking, instead of the
injection and immersion methods, use tumbling and massaging methods. Some of the tumblers
employ a vacuum system during the process and some are operated without a vacuum system.
The process involves a given weight of small and medium sized pieces of meat being placed into
large containers that are fitted with a central paddle. The required amount of brine for the weight
of meat in the drum is placed into the drum with the meat and the drum rotates. The rotation can
be intermittent with the tumbling of the meat taking place for about 20 minutes in each hour over
a period of 16 to 18 hours. The energy that is introduced into the meat by this process tends to
disrupt the fibrous structure and accelerates the penetration of the cure into the meat and causes
the formation of a suspension made up of salt, water & protein. After the processing the meat
feels to have a slimy coating on it, which, with the inclusion of air is like an emulsion. When the
meat, with this emulsion is placed into moulds, cans or casings and subsequently cooked, the
solubulised protein has the effect of binding the pieces together with the formation of a
continuous bond of coagulated protein. Anyone who seeks to pursue this kind of process further
will of course need the specialised help both of equipment manufacturers and some food
scientists but in all, it is not a complicated process to undertake provided that the eventual sale
can justify the overall cost of the process.

The making of a basic brine to a density of 60° follows a simple recipe of 2lb salt to 1 gallon of
water and with 1oz of saltpetre per 5lb salt used (in metric measurements equating to 908g salt to
9.09 litres water and with 28g saltpetre to each 2.267kg of salt). Although I have given the metric

equivalent in this instance I do apologise for continuing in imperial measurements here but the
conversion, while capable of being written is not quite as easily remembered. The formula of 2lb
salt to 1 gallon of water producing a brine of 60o density is quite easily remembered but as long
as the user is aware of the other ingredients, small changes can easily be made to the brines.
Refractometers and other pieces of equipment can be obtained at quite reasonable prices in order
to accurately know the density of the brine being used and, if brines are regularly being used it is
necessary to maintain a constant density of brine for consistency of product. The main
ingredients then are salt, saltpetre and water but additionally, tradition has produced many and
varied brines which can give the meat quite distinctive flavours. Coriander, Juniper berries,
pimento, ginger cloves, sugar (some with brown sugar and some with white sugar) are just some
of the spices that may be used but while more detailed recipes for various brines could be given
it would, I feel sure, be preferable for people to develop their own spiced brines. Of course, once
again there is the problem of obtaining supplies of saltpetre so again it is probably easier to
obtain a proprietary curing mix to use as a base and then adding extra ingredients as required.
Different meats may at times require different brines, for example, the kind of brine being used
to cure gammons can certainly have a slight difference to one being used to produce corned beef
or ox tongues, but it doesn‟t have to be different. If the customer prefers the flavour of the meat
cured in that brine then that is the brine that should be used. As long as the individual spices are
not excessive, they must add to, and not detract from; the finished product and experimentation
can sometimes produce some very interesting results.


The processes of smoking and drying of meat are in many ways related. Dried meat as such
though can be quite different to meat that has been subjected to some aspects of drying simply as
a side effect to the smoking process. Dry cured meats, which have been mentioned earlier, are
using the salt as a preservative with the drying process being supplemental to that process. Some
of the dried meats of days gone by such as the biltong of South Africa and jerky of the North
American continent relied quite a lot on sun drying for their product while pemmican included
some herbs and berries in its production (possibly in some way some of them acting as a form of
preservative in themselves) and no doubt some of the drying process was aided by smoking
(though how much of this was an evolutionary process with this product is not really known).

Although the salting of meat was popular with the navies in days gone by, some dried meat was
also used and the great Roman legions quite regularly carried dried meats for their legionaries to
the field of battle. Similarly „salted pork‟ was often the main meat element offered to sailors on
some of their long voyages in sailing ships. Some drying of meat was tried during the period of
the two world wars and some attempts were made to utilise dried beef (which can have quite a
good keeping property, while still dry) in recipes to augment fresh meat supplies, since in this
form it drastically reduced the weight that had to be shipped and also it didn‟t require
refrigeration. It was used, but the product never achieved any great popularity or success. More
recent work has been done using „freeze drying‟ methods (where the product has then been
incorporated into some „ready meals‟ and also to a limited extent it has been used for some home
cooked meal preparation). Freeze drying involves placing frozen product into a chamber where
changes in the atmospheric pressure then take place. As the pressure becomes lower, some heat
is applied and as the boiling point at a reduced pressure is also lowered there can be a
sublimation of moisture from the frozen product without the moisture element actually achieving
the liquid state. However, the popularity of dried meat is still not great (other than amongst
backpackers who sometimes take it to use as emergency rations) due both to its cost and the
comparatively high sodium content.

Smoking of meats, particularly of cured meats, bacon, gammon, salamis, sausages and some
other similar items (including of course quite a range of fish products) is in the main done in
order to achieve not only a form of preservation but also for the particular flavour and taste
that is imparted. Both the temperature of the smoking process and the type of material used to
create the smoke can all have profound effects on the finished products; each change can in its
turn make significant differences to the final taste. Some of these temperatures or materials could
be given here as examples (indeed one or two are in the recipes in the appendix) but the full
range and mix of options, and the changes that can be brought about by them are quite vast so
once again, as it can be both educational and interesting to experiment with different
temperatures and times for smoking, along with the different materials being used to generate the
smoke it is prudent that some testing should be carried out. As has been said, any of these
factors, alone or in combinations, can have profound effects on the finished product and any
result achieved can only be substantiated by any popularity it achieves amongst its consumers.
Some smoking may be done at some comparatively low temperatures over an extended period of

time while others may involve smoking at a higher temperature in order to achieve what can only
be described as a form of cooking during the process. In some of these cases the smoked product
leaving the smoke chamber may need to be regarded as „high risk‟, and will require some
additional precautions but more will be said of that in the next section on cooking. Some woods
used as the basis of the smoking material may be more popular and sought after, such as oak or
maple while others such as pine need to be avoided due to the effects that they can have on the
finished product. The smokers themselves can be of the traditional type that uses a small
„damped down fire‟, covered with sawdust in the base of a „cupboard like‟ space with rails above
from which are suspended the meats to be smoked. It will of course be necessary to retain the
smoke in the chamber while the smoking is in progress so the exhaust area (or chimney) must be
fitted with a form of „damper‟ to prevent the escape of smoke through the chimney until such
time that the process has been completed. Other smoker chambers may use a small gas supply to
feed along a perforated pipe over which again sawdust is sprinkled. Some smoke chambers may
incorporate small fans to circulate the smoke that is held within the smoke laden chamber
to aid the process. More sophisticated smoking systems may involve sawdust being placed onto
fine, electrically heated wires in the base of the smoke chamber while others may even be fitted
out to dispense with the sawdust completely and have concentrated liquid smoke (obtained from
different, but specific woods) drip feeding again onto fine electrically heated wires. In this latter
form it is claimed that the change to a different type of smoke can be achieved quickly and that
the process removes the potential risk of sawdust being near to the meat product (perhaps as a
potential „foreign body‟). Other people will claim that nothing can beat the true effects of „real
sawdust‟ being burned. No matter the type or method, the process is basically the same, that of
generating a quite dense smoke within a confined space. Obviously some of the simpler types
may not be able to demonstrate the same control of temperature during the smoking, but smoking
will indeed be done.

Some quite small smoking cabinets are manufactured (as will follow on the section on cooking,
some of the modern „combi‟ ovens are claimed to be capable of carrying out dry roasting, steam
roasting and smoking in a single unit) and such units normally offer some reasonable controls to
maintain temperature and also can have some more acceptable methods of smoke dispersal (once

it has done its work with the meat). Smoke dispersal can in itself cause problems if the
exhausting of large quantities of used smoke happens to be in a residential type of area but it is
possible for such problems to be overcome (and potential complaints minimised if not removed).

The inside of the smoking cabinet, and the rails used to hang the meats onto while smoking are
also subjected to the effects of the smoke and a thick, greasy build up of a very dark tarry
substance on all surfaces can, and will, occur. As with any equipment, smoking cabinets and the
hanging rails need to be cleaned and must be cleaned in order to be able to demonstrate that
hygiene has not been forgotten, even during this process. Obviously it needs to be carried out at
a time when there is no meat present and it is usually aided by the use of special detergents that
need to be brushed on and left to react with the smoke prior to being rinsed away using a
pressure washer. It must always be remembered though that if this build up is allowed to remain
and is not removed regularly it will eventually become much more hardened underneath and will
prove to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to remove later. As all smokers are different in
design, to try and suggest the actual process of cleaning here can prove to be confusing so it
becomes far more practical to request some initial assistance on such things as cleaning etc.
from both the manufacturers of the equipment and from the detergent suppliers, both of which
are usually able to give the support needed.


Although some mention must be made of some of the methods of cooking that may be used there
can be little doubt that any reader will be quite well aware of at least some of the differences. A
major change when the meat is cooked is that almost without exception any microorganisms on
the outside of the meat will have been subjected to temperatures and conditions that are
intolerable for its life form. Put quite simply, “cooking meat usually kills most of the „bugs‟ on
the outside of it”! This then could be looked on as being a great benefit to the meat, and usually
it is. However, once the meat is cooked it must be accepted that it is unlikely that it will be
subjected to any further process that will eliminate bacterial contamination before it is eaten.
Surface bacteria may have been destroyed by the cooking process but as a side effect of the
cooking process, a „sterile surface‟ remains along with meat juices from the meat and the

cooking. It is often claimed that to a large degree, bacteria can be territorial. Where a surface is
heavily populated with one species of bacteria it is said that it can be difficult for another species
to populate that area. If such claims are indeed fact then a sterile surface with a ready supply of
food in the form of meat juices is an ideal home for any new species of bacteria. The remaining
exposed surfaces of the cooked meat are then only too susceptible to re-contamination by
bacteria either from contaminated work surfaces, the contaminated hands of food workers,
contaminated equipment or from any raw or contaminated product that the cooked food may
come into contact with. The cooked meat then has now changed from being a „low risk‟ category
of food to being that of a „high risk‟ category of food and in this new „high risk‟ category,
entirely new rules must apply.

In the large meat processors, due to the quantities of meat being handled and the processes used,
the risks of any re-contamination and spoilage can to some extent be controlled more easily than
in say, a „one man shop‟ environment. The „one man shop‟ has to prepare the raw meats and, if
selling „home produced‟ cooked meats, has to cook that meat prior to sale. Once cooked, the
meat is removed from the cooking device but in removal it re-enters the same area where, as raw
product, it was prepared. It may have a designated table for use only by cooked meats, but
unfortunately there are many cases where it is „by accident‟ placed onto a surface that has
previously been occupied by raw meat or is handled by someone who has just handled raw meat
and „forgot‟ to wash their hands. It must be remembered that in the worst case it can result in the
death of consumers and ultimately the end of the business!

In the large processors case, one side of the factory handles the raw meats, and is classed as the
„low risk‟ side of the factory and the meat is usually then passed into a cooking system which has
a one way system. The people who remove the cooked meats from the cooking process must do
so from the other side of the cooker (usually in what has been created as a totally separate room).
In the separate room will be a separate team of „high risk‟ workers and all the areas and all the
equipment that they are involved with are appropriately prepared as „high risk areas‟ and all
operations undertaken must be then regarded as „High Risk‟ and the appropriate care must be
exercised. To all intents, High Risk areas must be classed as a separate room or building with all

services being quite separate from any Low Risk operations. It may be considered as being
separated by a brick wall, the oven or cooker being fitted into the wall (through which personnel
cannot pass) and Low Risk work at one side of the wall with High Risk at the other. In practice
it has been seen where the separation is simply a barrier of cooking machines with a common air
space for both departments. This can have problems in the end result and while it may be
considered to be „acceptable‟, total separation is to be preferred.

                         THE COOK CHILL PROCESSES
                                 (And cook freeze processes)

Cook chill (and cook freeze) processes are usually carried out by food service departments (that
are themselves supplied with some meat or meat products by the meat trader) and are not usually
carried out by the meat traders themselves but, due to both the importance of the subject and the
particular care that is needed in this operation, along with the care that is needed in the care and
handling of the foods used in the process, it is felt that some mention of the processes should be
made here. Cook chill may employ various methods of cooking in the process so; during this
brief section it only referred to as „cooking‟ no matter if it is roasting, baking, boiling, braising or

The process of cook chill can also include „cook in the bag‟ operations where some meat may
have other ingredients added prior to being sealed into a bag for cooking but more usually the
term is used to refer to the fully cooked meals that are pre-prepared and are required to be re-
heated to an approved temperature immediately prior to the time of consumption. Obviously
such a process requires the highest possible controls in all of its operations and the full use of the
principles of HACCP must be followed at all times whenever any of these processes or indeed
where other similar processes are used. That said, the benefits of the system are indeed quite
impressive and there can be little doubt that at the present time there are few people who have
not at some time benefited from some food cooked through a cook chill system; It isn‟t just large
institutions such as hospitals that use the system but organisations such as airlines and,
increasingly many other food establishments such as meals on wheels and also some large
throughput restaurants, where both efficiency and an assured consistency is required for the large
number of meals being served. In addition to the claims for an ongoing consistency of product it

has been used by some large catering operations to enable dramatic cost savings in eliminating
the need for all staff to work on all days of the week in the preparation area of the kitchens. An
imaginary example of this is given by one of the large chiller manufacturers (Victory blast
chillers of New Jersey of U.S.A.) suggesting where a restaurant serving 600 meals per week over
6 days (presuming 50 full covers at two sittings and with a turnover of one meal per cover at
each sitting). The staff in this imaginary restaurant had to work at weekends and, although they
were working they were not working to their full capacity. On Mondays the Restaurant was
closed. The owner realising that in order to both maintain the restaurants reputation for the high
quality of the meals and to be able to operate for seven days per week with no increase in staff
costs they would need to approach the problem with a different perception. The option chosen
was to use a cook chill procedure and just how it can work can be seen from the tables below.

                                 Operation prior to cook chill

                    Mon          Tues      Wed        Thurs    Friday      Sat            Sun

Meals Stored
(opening balance)    0            0         0          0       0            0               0

Meals Cooked         0           100       100        100      100         100             100

Meals Served         0           100       100        100      100         100             100

Closing Balance       0           0         0          0        0           0               0

                                 Operation Using Cook Chill

                    Mon         Tues      Wed         Thurs   Friday        Sat           Sun

Meals Stored      0              75        50          50      125          200           100
(Opening Balance)
Meals Cooked    175              75       100         175      175           0              0

Meals Served        100          100      100         100      100          100            100

Closing Balance     75            50        50        125      200           100            0

In addition to enabling meals that are prepared to the same standard to be served on seven days
instead of six days, the owner was able to add further benefits by only having to operate the

preparation and cooking work tasks in the kitchens on four days per week, (with obvious power
savings with such operations) and enabling some staff to have the weekends off. Obviously, this
was a hypothetical example but it does demonstrate how the process can offer some benefits.

Throughout this process, the control of the raw materials is critical. The quality must be constant
and the raw foods must have been handled in the most hygienic manner possible. HACCP
controls on the temperatures of refrigeration, both of the raw material and the finished product,
are not only essential but are critical. All raw materials need to have a separate preparation area
from the cooking area, emphasising the real need to demonstrate a „one way flow‟ system. Risks
must at all times be kept to an absolute minimum with the process and any possible risk of a
back flow could lead to immeasurable damage from contamination.

During the cooking process the food must achieve an internal temperature of at least 72°C (at the
thickest point) and it must maintain that temperature for a minimum of 2 minutes. Following the
cooking it must be subjected to a process of rapid chilling within 30 minutes of completion of the
cooking. The chilling processes used, either blast chilling, or if the food is properly enclosed in
packaging, immersion in a refrigerant solution during which it must have the core temperature
reduced to 3°C or less within a maximum of 90 minutes. It is said that in the case of large cuts
of meat that will require portioning, they must achieve a core temperature of 10°C within 150
minutes but in view of the many advances in portioning technology it is far preferable to
safeguard the integrity of the product and to ensure portioning prior to this stage and then to
adhere to the earlier requirement of achieving 3°C within 90 minutes.

If it is a cook freeze operation, the freezing must commence within 30 minutes of cooking and
must achieve a core temperature of at least -5°C within 90 minutes and then aim at a subsequent
temperature of -20°C or less.

The pre-cooked foods that have been produced through this process must be stored at a
temperature of 0°C to 2°C and in doing so can then have a shelf life of some 5 days. If the
temperature of the storage rises above 4°C but keeps below 10°C it should be consumed within
12 hours. in view of such strict control on times and temperatures (on both cooking and chilling)
it is necessary that the food should be labelled to give a basic description of the food plus a
packing date, necessary storage temperatures and a consume by date and the temperature that the
food must be reheated to before serving (which is again a core temperature of 72°C that must be

achieved and held for at least 2 minutes. Once the food has been regenerated (re-heated) it
should ideally be presented for consumption within 15 minutes of the completion of the re-
heating process.

Frozen foods must be completely thawed under controlled condition before any attempt is made
at the regeneration process (re-heating). Food that has been thawed rapidly in fast thaw cabinets
should be consumed within a maximum of 24 hours and of course no food, once thawed, must be
re-frozen again.

Blast chilling is yet a further developed process and is not simply a process where food is placed
into a simple chiller. The blast chill process utilises the recirculation of cold air at a very low
temperature but with the air moving at a high velocity. In a blast chiller, the food to be chilled is
usually placed on racks that are held in a position that is in a direct line of the air flow.

The process, while being capable of producing meals ahead of demand to satisfy a given market
can, if not operated properly, carry some risks. It is prudent therefore before proceeding with
such a process that some advice should be sought both from a consultant who is aware of the
potential problems within the process and the local environmental health department (who
should be advised anyway if meals are going to be cooked and served to the public).


As with smoking cabinets, cookers can be of many different types, from the small commercial
cookers to the very large industrial ovens and cooking systems. Once again the range and size of
the ovens and cooking systems prevent any detailed discussion but obviously the size of the oven
or cooking system has to be related to the amount of cooking or baking that is to be carried out.
The material used to provide the heat for the cooking process is now in the main restricted to gas
(either by mains or by supplied bottles) or electricity. The use of solid fuel, coke and coal ovens
and cookers are now rarely seen and in any event they required a great deal of experience in
working with them to be able to judge the right time to fire them, to damp them and even when
to withdraw the fire in order to get the product to cook in the way that was wanted. The author
does remember working with such ovens but he was working with someone else who had quite a
vast experience and knew his ovens and just how to get the best out of them. Armed with

that experience the results obtained were excellent. Indeed, there are people who still argue that
many of the finished products produced by modern methods do somehow lack that little „extra‟
that used to be achieved by those older methods. However, gas and electricity are now the more
normally accepted fuels and they will be presumed to be the more accepted energy forms used
for the cooking described here.

„Cooking‟ indeed can in itself involve several different processes, either related in some way or
sometimes rather similar their in action but perhaps occasionally resulting in a somewhat
different end product.


Boiling usually refers to the application of heat through the medium of water. Meats are usually
boiled in water to produce either cooked meats that may be sliced at a later time, or to produce a
finished meal product to be consumed at the end of cooking time, usually being carried out by
the consumer themselves. There are some exceptions to this though; black pudding and haggis
for example, after the mixtures have been filled into casings they have to be cooked prior to sale.
These products may then be heated, or be „re-cooked‟ by the consumer before serving, perhaps
with some other type of foodstuff.

In most cases of boiling it requires that the meat be placed into water and the temperature being
raised to the boiling point of water and then held at that temperature, often referred to as
„simmering‟ until the cooking process is completed. In the case of meats to be cooked for slicing
later, one method heard of by the author when he was „a young butcher‟ was that of cooking
hams by placing into a „copper‟ that was then brought to the boil. Once it was boiling, the top of
the copper was sealed and the heat removed from under the copper and it was left in that state
overnight. It was said then that the rule of „the longer the cooking time, the lower the cooking
temperature, the less the cooking loss‟ applied and it may possibly have done exactly that. It was
said that this „slow‟ cooking produced a much sought after product but while that may have been
the case on most occasions one must wonder about some of the safety of the food if the
gammons on one occasion happened to be slightly larger and if the „sealing‟ of the copper on
that same occasion hadn‟t been quite as efficient in keeping in the heat. It is nowadays more

normal to check that the meat is cooked by means of a thermometer and taking a deep product
temperature in order to achieve a consistent product. However, some general rules on time,
temperature and meat size can indeed apply, often substantiating some of the principles of „old
time butchers‟. Once the meat has been boiled, the water is often superfluous to requirements
and is discarded but not always. Bones and pigs feet are often boiled in order to produce a good
„gelatine‟ or „stock‟ either for use in pork pies (after they have been baked) or to mix with other
cooked meats to create a further meat product, for example potted meats, faggots and some
pates. Indeed, the boiling of bones to produce the „stock‟ needed to assist with other cooking is
not only an option but an absolute necessity for many renowned chefs.

Although perhaps not entirely related to the subject of boiling as such, products such as potted
meat, brawn and some pate that has any stock or gelatine added after processing may then need
to be boiled again in order to secure a sterilisation of the mix on the grounds of food safety.


Still using the principles of boiling, stewing involves placing the meat into water, often along
with other herbs and spices and perhaps some vegetables (sometimes in order to achieve a
complete meal from the meat) and this usually produces a comparatively „wet‟ end product.
The process of stewing though also has to be done (as in the case of steak & kidney) when
preparing some of the fillings for pies etc and while the quantity of liquid used may sometimes
be less, the principle of stewing still applies.


Braising refers to the cooking of meat in a container in liquid (but less than that required for
stewing) and is again a much slower cook, often using some of the less desirable cuts of meat
and adding some herbs and spices to the water so that the meat may be much improved both in
taste and tenderness by the cooking. This process is often used to produce a quite definite „steak
meat‟ by using some slightly less desirable of the steak meats that need a little more attention
than the frying or grilling steak meats.


Roasting is the application of heat directly onto the meat that may itself be contained in some
receptacle. Quite often there may be some „dripping‟ or lard used as a starter in the container to
aid the roasting but it may on some occasions rely upon the fats on, and inside, the meat to
provide a part of the basic cooking factor. The fats melted out from the meat are usually
collected in small reservoirs beneath and around the meat being cooked. Occasionally the meat
may have some of the reservoir of fat that has collected around it, spooned over the top in a
process called „basting‟. This would not of course be very pertinent if the meat was being roasted
for example on a spit or rotisserie where the melted fats dripping from the meat may add to the
fire beneath it. Some spit roasting though can have the heat applied from the side while melted
fats running from the meat collect in trays set beneath the meat. A similar process to that of spit
roasting is barbecuing but in this latter instance the meat is cooked on an open mesh over a hot
charcoal heat and the melting fats drip through the grill and on to the charcoal.

One factor that generally applies to roasting of meat though is that it is essentially a drying
process. Moisture within the meat is encouraged to achieve such a temperature that it does in
effect attempt to „boil‟ the meat from the inside, the water vapour from that process then
escaping from the outside of the meat. Roasted meat when finished does usually have a dried
outer surface; in the case of pork, the scored rind, or skin, becoming a crunchy substance that is
often referred to as „pork crackling‟.

It must be remembered that product weight, cooking time and the cooking temperature of the
meat during the cooking process are the main determining factors but also to be considered is
that of the „thickness‟ of the piece of meat. If, for example, a large turkey is being roasted then
a dressed turkey would require a specific cooking time relating to the weight of the turkey (the
centre of the bird being an empty void), but if that same turkey had been filled with stuffing
(which once again would have had liquid added to it during its preparation) then the total mass
being roasted would certainly be much more difficult to achieve a good „cook‟ by roasting. At a

given temperature, for that heat to penetrate through the total mass involved to the centre of the
stuffing in the turkey (and remember the moisture at the centre of the stuffing must be raised to a
temperature to evaporate outwards to achieve the „cook‟) could result in the outside of the turkey
being burnt before the centre does achieve the „cooking temperature. On food safety grounds it is
therefore advisable that the mass of the meat to be cooked should receive adequate consideration
when attempting to cook and in general the stuffing of the main body of turkeys is not
recommended. Stuffing at the neck end doesn‟t create quite the same „mass‟ that stuffing of the
main body cavity does and thereby can reduces risks in order to provide some element of „food
safety‟ for the consumer.

                                  STEAM ROASTING
Although basically using the same principles as roasting, steam roasting involves the meat being
roasted in a special oven, often being a „combi-oven‟ where the heat of the oven is also
supplemented by steam (quite often superheated steam) within the oven atmosphere. This
process, it is often claimed, „opens the meat, and enables it to become more consistent in
tenderness and aids the succulence of the finished product while at the same time removing more
fats and also leaving more minerals and vitamins intact. Claims made include also that the yield
of finished product is far higher using this method since the moisture in the cooking atmosphere
reduces the need for extraction of moisture from the meat than that which is done by roasting in a
dry heat (The benefits of improved yields being a very large incentive indeed for many carvery
type restaurants). The moisture within the oven does reach a point of „equalisation‟ so that
moisture within the meat no longer needs to escape but continues to cook from within the muscle
substance. In the case of carvery type restaurants that use such systems, the „roasted‟ meat from
such an oven, the „combi‟ effect then permits the meat to be „finished‟ with a dry heat alone to
the immediate exterior following the steam cooking, giving the finished meat the appearance of
more conventional roasting with a more „crackly‟ (or roasted) exterior surface. Steam ovens of
this type, are usually a „combi‟ type oven although not all steam ovens are in fact „combi -
ovens‟ but neither are they the same as the ovens mentioned in the section on baking where a
water spray may be used when baking some bread products. Such ovens having been developed
initially for bakers for the production of certain breads where the introduction of water is done
during the baking process to enhance the finished product.


Although it is a similar process to that of roasting, grilling involves the application of heat,
usually from above, and onto the surface of the meat to be cooked. In the case of grilled meats,
fat is rarely added before the application of heat although some steaks are lightly painted with
cooking oils by some chefs prior to cooking. Usually the meat (s) being cooked are sliced meats
or smaller pieces (as is the case with kebabs where a mixture of different meats, and occasionally
with some vegetables, are impaled onto a skewer for cooking) that can, by occasional turning,
receive an even cooking on all surfaces and enough to enable the heat to penetrate into the meat.
It should be noted though that in the case of steaks being cooked in a restaurant, the various
stages of cooking may be requested by the individual consumer, e.g. that the meat is „well done‟,
„medium‟, „rare‟ or even „blue‟. The „well done‟ meat is thoroughly cooked through to the
centre, the „medium‟ retaining a „hint of pink‟ while the „rare‟ is only lightly cooked and may
exhibit what appears to be a raw appearance at the centre. The „blue‟ steak normally receives
minimal cooking of the surfaces of the meat and is almost raw.

                            GRIDDLING OR BROILING

Griddling, or broiling, as it is more often known, is a process often used in kitchens where steaks
of various types may be cooked and involves the application of heat from a plate beneath the
meat. Usually the plate is made with ridges across the bottoms, the ridges having two purposes.
Firstly, the ridges create grooves between them that enable excesses of fat to be drained away
from the meat during the cooking process and, secondly, the application of the heat through the
raised ridges of the griddle creates „lines‟ or „stripes‟ on the surface of the cooked meat that is
often thought to enhance the appearance of the cooked meat. The use of the two names, griddling
and broiling, have come together more recently with the increased sale and use of „griddle pans‟
to domestic markets. Griddle pans are indeed little more than heavy iron fry pans that have quite
deep ridges on the bottom and they are used usually by coating with a vegetable oil prior to
cooking the meat on them.

Frying involves the cooking of the meat in a hot fat solution. The hot fat may be lard, dripping or
cooking oils and it may also be used either as a shallow fry, where there is a small amount of fats
in the vessel holding the meats being cooked and in such cases the fat covers only the lower parts
of the meat that are contacting the base of the cooking vessel; Or deep frying where the food is
fully immersed in the hot fats. Frying is not a regular process of cooking meats generally though
and on health grounds it has lost much of any popularity that it once had. The exception to this
is perhaps the use of deep frying for the cooking of Individual Quick Frozen Sausages by some
caterers where a more uniform appearance can be given to the outside of the sausage while the
complete „surrounding‟ of the sausage in a hot oil solution does manage a more even cook to the
centre of the sausage.


Baking of pies, sausage rolls and even some items such as faggots (or savoury ducks) and haslet
involves the application of a fairly „dry heat‟ to bring about a cooked product. Pies and sausage
rolls however are both cased in pastry while the faggots and the haslet are both meat items
without a pastry covering. The application of a fairly „dry heat‟ is also of some importance also
as distinct from some other baked products, notably some of the bread type of products, may
require a moisture to be added to the baking atmosphere to achieve the „crispness‟ of the crust
that is sought after. Such ovens often are fitted with a water connection to „spray‟ into the oven
during baking. The meat items discussed do not require the addition of water to the oven during
the baking process however but it will be noticed that there may be a considerable amount of
steam (and water vapour) to be found within the oven during the cooking process as the
moistures in the meats (and the pastry) does „boil off‟ during baking. With many ovens a
„damper‟ may be fitted which permits the initial baking to be carried out with some steam
present but the damper is released prior to the completion of the baking in order to aid in the
„browning‟ of the product and enables a more somewhat „crusty‟ texture in the end product. It is
also worth mentioning that extreme care should be taken when opening the oven door even if
where a damper is fitted and has just been opened (but the damper has been in the closed position
during cooking) as the escaping steam and water vapour from the oven door in such instances
can potentially cause some severe injuries to the operator. Many of the smaller ovens (and

perhaps they may be rather older models) used by some shops may not be fitted with dampers
and of course care should always be exercised in all aspects when dealing with any equipment
using heat.

The only difference for claims against that of roasting of meat versus baking of meat is that the
„baked ham‟ may be cooked in a container that is fitted with a grill beneath it where the melting
fats may pass through and therefore with the baked ham no basting is done. Pies and pasties can
involve many different kinds (and mixtures) of meats and vegetables that are wrapped in a pastry
covering and following baking some of these products may then be eaten hot, cold or indeed be
re-warmed later when required for consumption. Some details of some pastries will follow but
as with many sausages and meat products, there can be many different methods of preparation so
it is perhaps advisable that this wide-ranging and very necessary subject should end here since
baking (as indeed all cooking) can indeed be a subject in its own right.


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