Sunday, 24 March 2013
Low Fat Sausages - are you sure?
Low fat sausages? It's not the sort I would immediately think of buying, however it looks like there's members of the Weight Watchers community out there counting their calories that do and probably will be quick to quote their "pro points" of the ones they say they prefer.
Now call me cynical but how can a low fat sausage be anything like a "proper sausage"?
A properly made, shall we call it a traditional sausage, will have around say 20% fat in the mix. If you go less than this, the result when cooked we're told can be a rather dry and the taste and feel just isn't right. So if you take out some of the fat, what can you put in to the sausage to still keep it moist and not affect the taste?
Producers it seems have access to alternatives (or fillers) to make lower fat content sausages where a proportion of the added fat in the mix is replaced with the likes of SOYA PROTEIN, "FAT REPLACER", GELATIN (or AGAR AGAR), NON FAT DRY MILK POWDER, POTATO STARCH and TAPIOCA FLOUR to name just a few. These fillers absorb and bind with water to bulk and keep moisture within. OK I get that but it's the "fat replacer" that I have been told of as it sounds rather "industrial", that I wanted to know more about...
From some research I find that there's a dietary fibre (Inulin) developed originally in Belgium that's extracted from certain plants, that when mixed with water, results in a creamy emulsion/ paste that can be added to the sausage mix to replace some of the fat. This fat replacer holds moisture and because of it's neutral flavour gives the sausage when cooked little or no perceivable reduction in taste and the "mouth feel" is more consistent with a full fat sausage.
In speaking to a local producer I asked whether he would consider low fat production and his view was that it wouldn't make business sense for him to produce as the demand was very low. He also added that if people really watching their weight wanted to reduce calorie intake then perhaps they shouldn't eat sausages at all? Or at least, instead of a portion of 2, make it 1 thus seeing a reduction of 50% but still enjoy their meal perhaps?
I can see where he's coming from but what are Low Fat Sausages like?
Recently we sampled some Powters (Newmarket) - Low Fat sausages and surprisingly they taste very good. They had a nice "herby" and spiced flavour, and certainly a very good medium texture with a slight crumble as you bite in to them. The skins browned well. So certainly a sausage that seem to work as a sausage should. From the ingredients on the packet, there's no mention of a specific fat replacer so I expect that the mix is bulked with extra rusk which is probably why the texture is crumblier no doubt.
I wasn't convinced entirely though that these would replace "proper sausages"...
So, armed with some low fats and some standard Powters, I cooked up a sausage and mash for the troops to see what the results of a full comparison would bring.
The low fats were spotted immediately. The texture gave them away.
Quite crumbly compared with standard ones the troops reported. I agree but at the end of the day, low fat Powters from what we've found are at least as close you are probably able to get to a proper sausage whilst still giving some reduction in fat content.
Weight Watchers: 2pp for 1, 5pp for 2 and 7pp for 3 - well, what ever that means?.......
See our full review and others at www.sausagereview.co.uk