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Why does pork sausage have sugar in it?

j
janniecooks Jan 9, 2009 12:01 PM

I love pork breakfast sausage, but was frustrated because I always burned it. Finally thought to check the ingredients; sugar was included so I'm thinking it was the sugar in the sausage that burned. I'm guessing sugar is added to enhance browning, but I'd rather control the browning myself.

Went to my local publix today and checked all the breakfast sausages available. Jimmy Dean, Tennessee Pride, Johnsonville, and Publix Brand all have sugar, or high fructose corn syrup, or corn syrup, or corn syrup solids, and Publix branded sausage even has dextrose AND another sweetener!

Regrettably my only market choices are Publix or Winn Dixie or Wal-Mart - no Whole Foods, no Trader Joes, woe is me. Why oh why does everything have to have sugar added to it? And are you aware of any national brands that do not have any sweetener added that I can ask my Publix to order for me?

  1. rockandroller1 Jan 9, 2009 12:10 PM

    Everything has sugar added once you start looking. And you wonder why there is so much diabetes in this country.

    Is there really no farmer's market or similar store anywhere in a 50 mile radius? Where do you live, maybe we can find a store or source for you that you don't know about. Rural areas that are smaller and don't have things like TJ or WF usually have farms relatively close by.

    3 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1
      j
      Judith Jan 9, 2009 04:43 PM

      R&R1, that was my first thought and I figured I was just being my usual cynical self. I'm amazed at what has sugar in it. I occasionally use canned beans when I'm in a hurry, and some of the well known brands have both salt and sugar. Trader Joe's beans don't, and some of the Mexican brands are also sugar free. Salt is another issue. It's in all kinds of things where it isn't remotely necessary. Not only is diabetes epidemic, but so is obesity. Lots of people can't even taste decent food. They're completely sold to the sugar-salt taste spectrum.

      1. re: Judith
        c oliver Jan 9, 2009 04:55 PM

        Are either salt or sugar used as preservatives?

        1. re: c oliver
          j
          Judith Jan 10, 2009 09:33 AM

          I suppose there's a possibility. But honestly, if you read labels, you turn up sugar and salt in remarkable places. And given that we don't live in caves, preserving things probably doesn't require sugar in canned beans. If you followed the thread on expiry dates, lots of us toss things that have been around for a while. Some people toss them the instant they pass the date. We have refrigerators, freezers, and fairly constant indoor temperatures. And then there's the trade-off. We have literally an epidemic of type 2 diabetes, reaching even to young children, and rampant obesity. The average kid eats more McD's french fries than you'd imagine. The tastes we develop in childhood stay with us our entire lives. Surely there are better things to do with a potato than take out the flavor, reinstall it chemically, fry it in something ghastly, and then dump a bunch of salt on it? Woops, ranting here.

    2. c oliver Jan 9, 2009 12:38 PM

      I make my own sausage from a Batali recipe. No sugar in it. If you want the recipe, I'll post it. If you don't have a grinder (I have the attachment for my KA) I'm sure you could get a butcher to grind for you. Simple recipe.

      1. MGZ Jan 9, 2009 12:45 PM

        I have found that making your own is one way to avoid sugar in almost anything.

        A quick search turned up the following (omit the sugar):

        http://www.sugarmountainhome.com/live...

        1. steakman55 Jan 9, 2009 01:28 PM

          No reason whatsoever for pork sausage to have sugar of HFCS. It will be more expensive, but well worth it to order some smoked sausage from Bradley's Country Store in Tallahassee. It is same recipe for 100 years, and contains locally grown hogs, salt, sage, red and black pepper. Period. That';s it, and then slow smoked over hardwoods. I have eaten it for years and always try sausage from other websites and when traveling, and have yet to find its equal. Go to www.bradleyscountrystore.com
          order without fear. While you are at it, try some coarse ground grits and cane syrup, too.
          You won't be sorry. (I have no connection with it other than as a greatly satisfied eater)

          1 Reply
          1. re: steakman55
            lynnlato Jan 10, 2009 05:01 AM

            Breakfast sausage generally has sugar in it. It's what makes it breakfast sausage as opposed to italian sausage, polish sausage, etc. I have organic, all-natural breakfast sausage I get from a local pig farm and it has 5 ingredients: pork, salt, spices, sugar and red pepper.

            Bradley's is a smoked sausage, not a fresh sausage like breakfast sausage. That's not to say it isn't good. I think you'll have a hard time finding a commercial breakfast sausage product, whether mass produced or not, that doesn't contain some sugar. But their are certainly good recipes out there. Mix up a batch!

          2. paulj Jan 9, 2009 05:46 PM

            I don't think the burning is caused by the sugar; I suspect the heat is too high, or your pan has hot spots.

            Breakfast sausage, almost by definition, has to taste sweet. If it wasn't sweet, why associate it with breakfast.

            Other sausages may have some sugar as well, though it probably won't be so obvious. Americans have come to expect some sweetness with salty and smoked meats. For example many BBQ dry rubs include sugar, molasses, or brown sugar. Same for BBQ sauces But there are many traditional sausage recipes that don't have sugar.

            4 Replies
            1. re: paulj
              c oliver Jan 9, 2009 05:54 PM

              Excellent point. I've never had a problem with "store bought" sausage burning but I cook sausage pretty low so it's not overcooked on the outside before done on the inside.

              1. re: paulj
                j
                janniecooks Jan 10, 2009 02:55 AM

                The heat is not too high. After many burnt sausages I finally hit on the proper temperature and time, and end up having to cook it twice as long as the package recommends due to the low heat I'm using. Yes, there are hotspots on my pan and I get around that by moving the sausage around in the pan, as well as moving the pan around on the burner.

                I don't agree that breakfast sausage has to taste sweet. Bacon doesn't have to be sweet, eggs aren't sweet, and sage pork sausage needn't be sweet. I do agree with your point that Americans have come to expect sweetness in their foods, but I think that's because manufacturers add it and palates have become accustomed to it and even, dare I say, addicted to it. Me, I don't want added sweeteners unless I chose to add them myself to foods. I try to avoid purchasing foods with added sugars, and I try to avoid cooking things with sweeteners.

                1. re: janniecooks
                  paulj Jan 10, 2009 07:51 AM

                  I have a roll of JD sage sausage in the freezer. Ingredients list 'less than 2% total of corn syrup, salt, etc'.

                  To say that people are addicted to sugar in sausage is a misuse of the term. I have no problem with 'accustomed to' or 'expect'.

                  What is it that you like about 'breakfast sausage'? In your mind, what is distinctive about it? Have you tried buying unseasoned ground pork, and preparing your own?

                  1. re: janniecooks
                    t
                    tarteaucitron Jan 10, 2009 12:33 PM

                    Good luck with finding breakfast sausages that do not have added sugar! I've been looking for the same and learned that it is pretty hard. I agree that food manufacturers are now habitually adding sugar as a flavouring into our pork products, because the meat itself is missing the meat flavour...

                    It's a funny thing that ages ago, when things were less sugary (or when I had a more pronounced sweet tooth, who knows), one of my favourite tricks was to add a pinch of sugar to sausages and ham during cooking, to help with the browning. Now, everything is too sweet already!

                2. k
                  kmcarr Jan 9, 2009 08:41 PM

                  A small amount of sugar in breakfast sausage is not unheard of. For example, here is Alton Brown's recipe for a basic homemade breakfast sausage:

                  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

                  You will see that it has 1 Tbsp. of brown sugar per 2 lbs. of pork.

                  1. Zeldog Jan 9, 2009 08:42 PM

                    Some breakfast sausage recipes do indeed call for brown sugar or maple syrup, but these are optional. Got a grinder, or a good food processor? Breakfast sausage is just about the easiest of all sausages to make at home, if you can do with patties instead of making links.

                    You can also make many kinds of sausage from store-ground pork, but it's nice to know exactly what's going into the sausage. You can freeze it for several months and it will still taste better than any store bought sausage.

                    1. babette feasts Jan 9, 2009 11:55 PM

                      Sugar is a flavor enhancer just like salt, plus it can be a cheap 'filler' ingredient.

                      1. GodfatherofLunch Jan 10, 2009 05:26 AM

                        Start with a couple of tablespoons of water in the pan and cover. The resulting steam will cook the sausage, After about 3 minutes remove the cover, when the water has cooked off you can brown to your liking.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: GodfatherofLunch
                          j
                          janniecooks Jan 10, 2009 05:43 AM

                          I have used that technique with links but I prefer sausage patties. But thanks for the reminder for when I do purchase sausage links.

                          1. re: janniecooks
                            GodfatherofLunch Jan 10, 2009 05:56 AM

                            sounds obvious but with patties try lowing the heat a bit.

                          2. re: GodfatherofLunch
                            t
                            tarteaucitron Jan 10, 2009 12:39 PM

                            Actually, I sometimes even go overboard and *simmer* the sausages in a little bit of water before browning, to remove the excess salt and grease. I generally find commercial sausages too seasoned, and the extra juice can be added to other sauces!

                          3. c oliver Jan 11, 2009 08:38 AM

                            I just check my "The Sausage-making Cookbook" and the only recipes containing sugar were for dry and semi-dry sausages. That and the salt are uesd for "curing" purposes. None of the fresh sausage recipes contained sugar. Then I googled around a bit and all I found was that sugar is added to enhance the flavor. As someelse post, it IS a small amount (less than 2%). I can make and package six pounds of bulk sausage in perhaps 30 minutes so don't see any reason not to make your own if that under 2% bothers you. It's even faster if you have your butcher grind it.

                            1. Caralien Jan 11, 2009 07:53 PM

                              Sugar, like salt (and honey, olive oil...) have preservative qualities. Most convenience foods have excessive amounts of sugar, HFCS, sodium, hydrogenated/trans fats, and preservatives.

                              I've found that most breakfast sausage has sage, but is not necessarily sweet. I make my own with ground turkey or pork (add in some rubbed sage, salt and pepper, and pan fry). If someone wants it sweet, there's honey, maple syrup, or cranberries which could be added.

                              It's generally healthier, tastier, and less expensive to make it from scratch, and takes the same amount of time (or 1-2 minutes more to mix in a bowl) to DIY, which also allows you to control what's in your food.

                              1. j
                                janniecooks Jan 12, 2009 02:15 AM

                                Thank you all for the input. As several of you have noted, some of the packaged brands of sausage have less than 2% added sweetener, but at least one of the brands I mentioned had sugar as the second ingredient. Even 2% or less is too much; I just don't see the need for that additive. Apparently I will have to make my own sausage if I want to avoid the added sweetener, which I do. I have a KA, so I guess I'll have to pop for the grinder attachment. And thanks too to those of you who kindly offered tips on how to cook sausage without burning it; while I wasn't seeking cooking advice it was nice of you to offer it.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: janniecooks
                                  c oliver Jan 12, 2009 06:41 AM

                                  Once you get the grinder, we'll wait for you to ask for advice on how to make.

                                  1. re: c oliver
                                    j
                                    jscott65 Jan 12, 2009 08:35 AM

                                    As someone from the packaged food industry and a Chef, I feel that a small percentage of a sweetner can enhance a good breakfast sausage. I prefer to use real maple syrup. A friend of mine from the prepared food industry always told me "sugar sells" . You would be shocked to know how much sugar is in fast food hamburger buns and many other chain/multi-unit operations. Food processors have wrecked so many good things by adding unneeded ingredients to foods today, that coupled with our sedentary lifestyle is causing the surge in obesity and diabetes

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