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I'm interested in making emulsified sausages like hot dogs. Most guides suggest using a food processor, which I don't have. I do however have a high-powered blender. Can a blender be used to make emulsified sausage?

I can imagine it working, but since this is not something I've seen in books or guides I have my doubts. I'm also confused how a food processor can create a true emulsion, but that is a separate question!

Would I also need to grind meat before I put it in a blender? Or could I put meat chunks straight into a blender?

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I've made emulsified sausages. A blender will not work. Not because of the friction (although that is an issue), but because of the way blenders are actually built. A blender is designed for fluids, or small-particulate matter (e.g. grinding a lot of pepper). A lot of how a blender works is due to the way things move around in one, which requires a very loose/liquid substance. Food processors move product around inside them differently-- notice how the blades are offset from each other.

More or less, this is like trying to use a hammer to drive in a screw. You might get there eventually, but most likely you won't. You're going to need a food processor, sorry.

  • Even if a plunger is used to move things around? – Behacad Jul 30 at 1:03
  • Yes. You simply will not be able to puree the protein as fine as necessary for an emulsified sausage. You can--and should--use a blender for something like a chicken liver parfait, which has a lot of liquid. A hot dog does not, and a blender will not ever work to give you the result you are looking for. – Sebastien Jul 30 at 1:13
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    As to your separate question: food processors--e.g. the industry standard Robot Coupe--are the standard equipment for making thick emulsions like mayonnaise in restaurant settings. (Thinner emulsions such as salad dressings are best done in a blender, however). Yolks, mustard, vinegar. Turn it on, drizzle in oil, you're finished in two minutes. – Sebastien Jul 30 at 1:15
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I think your issue, using a high powered blender, is that the friction in such a blender produces quite a bit of heat. You will need to account for that. Secondly, your grind might be too thick for the blender to circulate effectively. You want your meat near freezing for the initial grind, so you will want to pre-grind for sure. However, then, some heat helps with the emulsion. I could see it working, with some pulsing, then maybe some time in the refrigerator, then a return to pulsing. It depends on your blender, the amount of mix, and your patience. It could work. This might help you consider the variables.

Upon further investigation, heat might not be your biggest issue if you choose to use a blender. In the case of emulsified sausage, "emulsification" is a bit of a misnomer. A blender, however, could cause a problem by over-processing the fat particles, leading to a less stable "emulsion." According to the source I just linked:

Fat emulsification involves, as mentioned previously, the reduction of fat to a small enough size that the extracted protein can coat or entrap the fat. Of the fat particles are too large we will not get a smooth, stable emulsion but if the fat is chopped too much the surface area may be too large or too many fat cells may be broken to yield a stable product.

Again, you might be able to make this work with care and patience, but a high speed blender is probably not the best tool for the job.

  • How does a blender produce more heat than a food processor ? The blades aren’t as sharp? I can control the speed so it doesn’t get very hot. Also with the plunger I suppose it would make it easier to move things around to get a good mix. Apparently there is such a thing as working the meat too much, which I don’t quite understand. – Behacad Jul 30 at 0:20
  • It's not about how sharp the blades are (blender blades are not nearly as sharp as food processor blades), it is about pure speed...friction...and probably aided by duller blades!. Yes, you can control speed...and the plunger will help...so, I think it is possible with care. The risk of overworking is that the emulsion can break. – moscafj Jul 30 at 0:44
  • How does the emulsion break from working? That is the part I don't get. If I make a soup or a sauce of even mayonnaise you'd have to go pretty crazy to break the emulsion. – Behacad Jul 30 at 1:04
  • Heat breaks emulsions. I've made probably hundreds of litres of mayonnaise, and blenders just suck for the purpose once it gets thick enough. Again, this is where a food processor is superior to a blender. – Sebastien Jul 30 at 1:12
  • Further research suggests that emulsion is a bit of a misnomer in this case, but the ability of the blender to almost liquify can be a significant issue. See: meatsci.osu.edu/node/130....I will edit my answer. – moscafj Jul 30 at 1:15

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