‘Super Grain’ Quinoa Could Replace Pork Fat in Sausages

A team of Spanish researchers has found that quinoa could effectively lower fat and boost protein in sausage
quinoa

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Sausages really do have all sorts of things in them.

Quinoa is known and loved for its status as a “super grain,” giving vegetarians and vegans the necessary protein their bodies need that would otherwise come from animal meat. Now it’s also being explored as a fat substitute in sausages.

A new study from Spanish researchers tested the feasibility of replacing pork fat with boiled quinoa in dry-cured sausage. Such a change would reduce fat and boost protein levels. According to a focus group of tasters, reducing the fat content by 85 percent had no effect on whether consumers liked the product.

Dry-cured sausages such as chorizo and salami usually have fat content between 30 and 50 percent, which contributes to the appearance, texture, and flavor of the sausage — specifically, its juiciness. When replacing fat, boiled quinoa changed the composition, flavor, and texture of the sausages. However, the researchers said, “Consumer tasting showed no differences in preference between reduced-fat and full fat sausages.”

Different fat substitutes can have varied effects on the color of sausage, as the team learned when testing inulin, cereal, or fruit fibers as substitutes. However, when using quinoa, the color did not significantly change, possibly because of its starch content.

Participants in the taste test did report more hardness and chewiness in the low-fat sausage (85 percent replacement) versus the half-fat or the full-fat versions, as well as less juiciness. The researchers said this was because “fat melts in the mouth being a source of juice from the food, and contains aromatic compounds that simulate salivation.”