Phosphate is used in many commercial sausages, because it makes it possible to 'hold' an awful lot of water. Buy water (its cheap) and sell it as sausage. Phosphate is very important to the profitability of some sausages.
Does anyone use phosphate? unless the meat is very freshly killed some emulsions are pretty hard to achieve without.
Its a different game if you are only adding 1% red wine rather than 10/15% of water.
The "classic British banger" is a pretty ghastly thing. Lots of 'rusk' (think breadcrumbs), water (and phosphates), fat and a little bit of meat. The high water content accounts for the (mainly historical) tendancy to explode on frying - hence the name 'banger'.
I'd rather know what goes into mine, and I neither need nor want phosphates, thank you.
I'm under no pressure to increase the water content of my sausages.
But I'm honestly not absolutely certain that the 'bind' is indeed an emulsion - after all, the fat is pretty much solid around water's freezing point. You certainly don't want the water-based stuff to be actually frozen solid too. The amount of mixing effort is in no way comparable to, for example, beating mayonnaise.
Certainly the mechanical cold-mixing action develops a protein stickiness (myosin), and that (rather than the fat) could well be what holds the liquid in the sausage all the way to the mouth, achieving succulence without a high (and artificially bound) water content.
Hence I prefer to talk about "the bind" rather than the emulsion. Kudos to Ruhlman and Polcyn for introducing me to that term.
Dougal,it's not true that that's the only use of phosphate-Heston Blumenthal writes interestingly about it in his BBC book.
Consider this-almost every sausage available from the very best UK sources is technically faulty-it exudes a huge amount of fat and liquid that should stay in the skin and the result is mealy. A little phosphate added to the liquid you would add anyway prevents this, and in my experience the emulsion obtained from British pork only works about three times out of ten, no matter how careful I am.
Lest it appear otherwise, I deplore the British sausage tradition.
Edited by muichoi, 01 October 2008 - 11:40 AM.