Meat glue, scientifically known as transglutaminase, is an enzyme that is commonly used in the food industry.
It basically works as an adhesive, and its primary goal is to ‘glue’ different parts of meat together to make larger pieces. It’s also used to improve the texture of meat products, like sausages and chicken nuggets. It can also be used for cheese, bread, and a lot of other products.
Meat glue is also one of the most controversial food additives, as it can cause many health problems, from food poisoning to extreme allergic reactions. In fact, transglutaminase is banned from the European Union.
On the other hand, it was declared safe to consume in the United States since it was approved by the FDA (the Food and Drug Administration) as a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) product.
The concerns around meat glue are enough for people who work in the meat production industry to wonder about meat glue substitutes. Some of the best ingredients you can use a meat glue substitute are gelatin, carrageenan, and sodium caseinate. That’s what I’ll cover in this guide.
What Makes a Good Meat Glue Substitute?
Meat glue is made by cultivating bacteria that come from blood plasma, mainly from pigs and cows. However, this enzyme can also be found in various plants and vegetables.
Its purpose is to glue two or more raw meat pieces together and create various shapes. It also helps secure wrappings to other pieces of meat, like ham, bacon, chicken skin, and so on.
It’s not only used for meat but in many other processed foods as well.
Therefore, a good meat glue substitute should contain adhesive properties that would glue different pieces of meat together.
Keep in mind that there isn’t an alternative with strong adhesive power like meat glue, but there are other much healthier options you can try.
Meat Glue Alternatives to Try
If you don’t have meat glue, or if you simply want to use a healthier alternative, there are other options you can try for your sausages and other meat products.
Some of the best meat glue substitutes are:
- Sodium caseinate
Gelatin is frequently used in combination with meat glue to ensure the meat pieces will stick together. However, if you don’t want to use meat glue, perhaps gelatin is the option for you.
You can use gelatin in the form of powder or liquid, but keep in mind that the liquid form of gelatin has to be heated before it’s used.
Once you heat the liquid, make sure to combine it with a water solution. Inversely, gelatin powder is usually used at the end of the curing process of sausages before they are placed in the casing.
Gelatin powder is a good meat glue substitute because it contains a lot of health benefits. It has high levels of protein and collagen, which come from boiled animal bones and cartilage. It also contains a lot of minerals, such as copper and selenium.
Gelatin powder can also be mixed with other ingredients, such as garlic powder, onion powder, or various salts and spices.
After adding the gelatin to your mixture, make sure to refrigerate the meat to ensure all the pieces will stick together.
When the meat is fully prepared, remove any gelatin outside the coating, but leave enough for the crust to stick to the meat evenly.
Another ingredient that is frequently used in the food industry is carrageenan. It actually comes from edible red seaweeds.
It’s so widespread in the dairy and meat industry because of its ability to thicken and stabilize the texture of meat.
Carrageenan can be refined and semi-refined, and both variants are used in preparing meat.
Carrageenan is a good meat glue substitute because it enhances the quality and texture of meat. It also increases the water and yeast binding properties that help the meat pieces stick together.
Using carrageen also helps capture the moisture inside the meat, and it binds nutritious proteins as well.
Carrageenan is best used with smoked products, chicken, poultry sausages, Frankfurters, hamburgers, and minced meat products.
It’s an overall healthier alternative to meat glue, and it’s much easier to come by as well.
Sodium caseinate comes from casein – the integral protein found in cow’s milk that also gives it the white color.
Once sodium caseinate is extracted from skimmed milk, it can improve and stabilize the texture in a large variety of food products.
Even though sodium caseinate is more frequently used in dairy products like cheese, ice cream, and creamers, it can also be quite useful in processed meats.
Since sodium caseinate can absorb water, it’s usually used to change or improve food texture. It can also minimize fat and oil levels in processed meat and other cured products.
Sodium caseinate might not have the same adhesive power as meat glue, but it’s a great substitute with many health benefits.
A large part of the meat industry uses meat glue to make sure the pieces stick together and form a specific shape.
Even though meat glue has strong adhesive power, it can be very unhealthy, so you can use healthier alternatives for your meat. The best ingredients to use as a meat glue substitute are gelatin, carrageenan, and sodium caseinate.
Gelatin is the most widespread ingredient, and it has the most adhesive power among these alternatives. Carrageenan stabilizes the texture of the meat, and it’s a much healthier option. Sodium caseinate can modify the quality and texture of your meat products.
No matter which meat glue substitute you choose, it’s only going to enhance the taste of your meat products.