Saag’s is committed to producing the most flavorful, premium quality sausages and deli meats available. We invite you to learn more about these products and how they are made. If you have a question, please contact us.

DELI MEATS – BEEF, TURKEY & HAM
GENERAL

How long can I keep sliced meat?
Use the same guidelines you’d use for leftovers at home: no more than 5 days under sanitary conditions. Sliced deli meats require prompt refrigeration to maintain product integrity, quality and shelf life.

What does 98% fat free really mean?
The weight of all meat and poultry products comes primarily from water, protein and fat. 98% fat free means that, by weight, 2% of the weight is contributed by fat.

How do I know if water is added to deli meats?
Water is an ingredient and must be declared in the ingredient statement. The amount added can be determined logically several ways, the most obvious being the hierarchy of water in the ingredient statement.

Why is water added to deli meats?
In high quality products, water is added to compensate for the moisture lost during cooking. Water may also be added to decrease the cost of the product or to meet the requirements to make nutrition claims, e.g. reduced sodium or reduced fat.

BEEF PRODUCTS – DEFINITIONS & PRODUCTION

Is deli roast beef one muscle?
Not always. Restructured deli beef is machine fabricated, made from more than one cut of meat and blended together with various binders, fillers and extender ingredients and then molded to form a solid product. Restructured products are popular for sandwiches. Some manufacturers use this technique to reduce their production costs.

What cuts of beef are used to make deli roast beef?
Cuts used for deli roast beef are typically cut from the hind leg, called the round. The most attractive cuts are the top or bottom round, solid pieces of meat that slice well. Sub primal cuts from the round include:

  • Top Round – lies on the inside of the leg and is the most tender
  • Cap – the gracilis muscle from the top round
  • Eye of the Round – least tender, well flavored, looks like a tenderloin
  • Bottom Round Flat – tenderness varies from one end of the cut to the other, the flat is the bottom round with the eye of the round removed

What are the grades for beef?
The grades used most frequently for deli roast beef are the top 3 of the 8 USDA grades: prime, choice and select (in descending order of quality).

How is beef trimmed?
Better quality beef is trimmed to the red meat (the “blue”). The outer fat layer and the “silver” (the shiny connective tissue beneath the fat) are removed before cooking.

What cooking methods are used to make deli roast beef?
Deli roast beef is typically cooked one of two ways:
Dry Heat – dry roasted or rack-cooked

  • Relies on the natural fat in the meat for moisture.
  • Generally used for more tender cuts of meat.
  • No liquid is added during cooking.

Moist Heat – bagged and cooked in water

  • Relies on added liquid (water or broth) to transfer heat into the meat.
  • Generally used for less tender cuts of meat.
  • Added moisture and heat break down connective tissue to tenderize the meat.

What is aseptic packaging?
A continuous system where packages are sterilized, then enter a pre-sterilized environment to be filled with sterile product and sealed.

What are the added ingredients found in deli roast beef?
Common additives are non-meat proteins (typically soy or carageenan, which is extracted from certain types of marine algae or seaweed), sodium phosphate, salt, seasonings, nitrite and water.

What is the percentage of marinade or pump injected into the meat?
It varies greatly. The higher the pump, the more the texture of the meat changes during cooking and the lower the price.

What is the liquid in the product bag?
The liquid (purge) is injected during cooking and gets “pulled” out of the meat during vacuum packing. You pay for it whether or not it stays inside the meat.

What is the difference between Roast Beef, Corned Beef and Pastrami?
All three items can be made from the same cut of meat. The difference is in the way it is processed.

  • Roast beef is seasoned (or injected, without cure) and cooked.
  • Corned beef and pastrami are injected with spices and cure (which is what makes them pink).
    • Corned beef is then kettle or steam cooked.
    • Pastrami is further seasoned with an outside rub, and then smoked.

How is the fat content calculated?
Total fat content is calculated through laboratory analysis.

What does value-added mean?
When manufacturers add an ingredient, product, technique, service or other enhancement that adds value to an end product. For example, pre-cooking adds value to deli meats because it saves time. Other value-added products are ready-to-eat, ready-to-heat and ready-to-use items.

TURKEY PRODUCTS – DEFINITIONS & PRODUCTION

What are the different types of natural turkey breast sold in the deli?
Natural Turkey Breast is the whole breast that is carefully removed from the breastbone, hand trimmed and placed back together before cooking. No binders or fillers are added and skin is optional. The texture is slightly dry, just like homemade.

  • Single Lobe is half of the whole breast and has a natural turkey appearance and slightly dry texture. No binders or fillers are added.
  • Pan Made positions two or three breasts and has a natural turkey appearance and slightly dry texture. No binders or fillers are added.

How is a processed “restructured” turkey breast made?
It’s machine-fabricated, made from breast meat and breast trimmings that are blended together with various binders, fillers and extender ingredients and then molded to form a solid product. Restructured products are popular for sandwiches because the texture is smooth.

What makes a more expensive turkey product worth the price?
Higher quality turkey products can cost more because they are:

  • Made using the whole breast muscles
  • Formed by hand, rather than by machine
  • Naturally smoked
  • Stripped of any sealed cooking bags and repackaged

What cooking methods are used to cook turkey breast?
Turkey breasts are cooked using dry or moist heat methods. Many poultry products are cooked and shipped in the same sealed bag. This method of preparation extends the shelf life of the unopened product.

How is flavor added to turkey breast?
Manufacturers typically add ingredients to enhance the natural flavor or to season it. Manufacturers typically add:

  • Marinades and brines, injected into the meat
  • Highly flavored rubs, applied to the surface
  • Smoke flavor, applied naturally with wood chips or as liquid smoke

HAM PRODUCTS – DEFINITIONS & PRODUCTION

What is ham?
The word ‘ham’ refers to a cut of meat from a hog’s hind leg, as well as the processed product.

How are hams made?
Similar to beef and turkey, ham can be made using the whole muscle or by using small pieces that are restructured into the desired weight and size for sale.

Which cuts are used to make ham products?
Inside/Cushion – The most tender muscle, light in color with very little connective tissue.
Outside/Flank – The largest muscle with less marbling than the inside muscle.
Knuckle – Dark red with more sinew. Very lean, the knuckle can be used to produce 98 to 99 percent fat-free ham.
Inside/Outside Shank - Low cost raw material, often used as ground meat in ham production.

What do the different names for ham mean?

Ham – Cured meat from the back leg of a pig. Contains no added water. It can also mean that more moisture was cooked out of the ham than added to it during processing. Ham is at least 20.5% protein.
Ham with Natural Juices – Contains very little added moisture and is 18.5% to 20.5% protein.
Ham with Water Added – Contains added water. Most deli hams fall into this category and are 17.0% to 18.5% protein.
Ham and Percent of Water Added – Contains added water. Label must include percent of weight for added ingredients and the product has no minimum protein limits.
Cooked Ham (also called boiled ham) – Uses moist heat. The texture is moist and the flavor mild. Most common use is sliced for sandwiches
Baked Ham – Cooked to a higher internal temperature than Cooked Ham. The texture is drier and the flavor more intense than Cooked Ham.
Glazed Ham The outside is coated with a sweet glaze, such as honey, after curing and cooking. Spices may also be added. Glazed hams are usually sweet.
Honey-Cured Ham – Honey is added to the solution used to cure the ham. After curing, the ham is cooked. The end product is sweet.
Cooked/Smoked Ham – Often cooked in a smokehouse where the smoke is applied during the cooking process. The moist texture and mildly smoky flavor are popular.
Specialty Cured Hams – Treated or cured in a special way to produce a unique or distinctive flavor, such as country-style ham, Prosciutto and Westphalian ham

What factors affect the cost of high quality hams?

  • Made from whole inside muscles
  • Hand packed
  • Naturally smoked
  • Leaner
  • Contain less water

SAUSAGE – DEFINITIONS & PRODUCTION

When was sausage first made?
References to sausage and sausage making date back centuries. Sumerians are credited with inventing sausage around 3000 BC. The Greek poet Homer mentioned a kind of blood sausage in the Odyssey, and Epicharmus wrote a comedy titled The Sausage. Evidence suggests that sausages were popular among ancient Greeks and Romans. Sausage started as a means of using and preserving the whole anima.

How do sausages differ?
Sausages differ depending on the ingredients, additives, shape, curing technique, level of dryness and whether they are fresh or cooked.

Are all sausages fully cooked?
Most sausages sold today are fully cooked. Raw sausage is usually sold in the meat case. When in doubt, ask.

What products are included in the sausage category?
Fresh sausage, fresh cooked sausage, fresh smoked and cured sausage, semi-dry sausage, dry sausage, luncheon meats and pate.

What’s in sausage?
By law, sausage must be made from wholesome cuts of pork, veal, beef, turkey or chicken. Most sausages contain only skeletal meat taken off the bone. Sausage made with variety meats, such as liver or tongue, must list those meats on the label. Most sausages can have no more than 30% fat. Labels must list the exact amount of fat and other nutrients. All ingredients must be listed on the label by weight, in descending order. Ingredients lists can include: curing salts (sodium or potassium nitrate and nitrite), sugar, water, and other natural ingredients such as eggs, breadcrumbs and produce in the product

How is sausage made?
Every manufacturer uses proprietary recipes, but the basic procedure remains the same.

  • Chop or grind the meat (or meats).
  • Mix the meat with other ingredients to form a meat batter.
  • Stuff the meat batter into a casing to make links.
  • Process by cooking, smoking, fermenting and curing or drying the sausage.

What is a dry cured sausage?
Curing differs depending on the style of sausage being made. The best dry sausages (salami) are cured long and slow to develop full flavors. During the curing process beneficial molds and/or bacteria break down the structure of the meat and make it tender as it cures. These molds and bacteria also help develop flavors, such as those traditional to Genoa, hard salami and Sopresatta. A dry cured sausage that has been cured and dried too quickly will be soft on the inside and have a hard rind.

What are sausage casings made of?
Natural link sausage casings are made from sheep and pork intestine. Artificial casings can be edible or inedible. Edible casings are made from collagen (from inside the beef hide). Inedible casings are made from cellulose (cotton and wood pulp by-product) or cellophane and are used to make skinless products. Inedible casings are removed before the product is packaged.

How did brats (bratwurst) get their name?
Brat means finely chopped meat and wurst means sausage in German.

Is there any pork in chicken sausage?
It’s possible a natural pork casing could be used. Always check the ingredient list.