What is Enhanced Pork?
Enhanced pork is also called “seasoned pork” or “pumped pork”. It is the whole muscle meat that has been finely needled and injected with water, salt and sodium phosphate. It sometimes may also be injected with spices, flavorings and antioxidants.
Enhanced meat is nothing new, the Butterball turkey which has been around for more than 50 years and the corned beef brisket which had been around even longer are just two examples of enhanced meats. Many at home recipes call a for brine pork roast, the pork roast is placed in a sugar and salt water solution for several hours. A brined pork roast results will be very similar to enhanced pork.
Why is Pork Enhanced?
Over the last 25 years pork has become increasingly leaner. Lean pork is less tender and juicy when cooked. Consumers are still nervous about under-cooking pork. Both of these factors result in a dry and chewy cooked end product.
Enhancing pork ensures that the finished product is always tender and moist. Adding a small amount of water and salt makes the product more flavorful and guarantees a moist end product.
The Role of Each of the Ingredients
The water is added to replace the moisture that the pork naturally looses when it is cooked. Salt is added for both flavor and to help hold the water within the muscle fiber. The sodium phosphate acts to hold the water within the muscle fiber and this solution delays the growth of spoilage, extending the shelf life of the pork. The results is better food safety for the consumers and reduced economic loss for retailers.
Is Enhanced Pork Better Than Regular Pork?
Many barbecue and grilling enthusiasts don’t think so. But in a blind taste test sponsored by the U.S Meat Export Federation, out of 250 influential Caribbean chefs, 90% chose pork that was enhanced as having the best flavor and texture.
Pork that is enhanced looks the same and cooks the same as regular pork. It can be overcooked and remain tender.
When purchasing pork carefully read the label. Pork that is enhanced may be labeled; enhanced, seasoned, basted, injected, marinated or salted pork. Because salt is already added be sure not to add salt to the pork or not to add any salted ingredients to your dry rubs or marinades.
The Future of Enhancing Pork
More than 70% of supermarkets in the US and more than 50% in Canada carry pork that is enhanced and these numbers will continue to rise. Enhancing pork is becoming less expensive and will soon be cheaper than regular pork as the demand rises.
Consumers are spending less time preparing meals than they did 15-20 years ago. Enhanced meats are ready to cook, taste good to the average consumer and are easy to prepare.
Enhancing pork is here to stay whether you like it or not. Many location only carry pork that is enhanced, you may have no choice, learn to adapt your recipes to enhanced meat.
Pork that has been enhanced or seasoned does have some benefits.The price of enhanced and regular pork is comparable in price per pound, however enhanced pork will be heavier because of the added liquid and therefore cost a little more in the end. Enhanced meat will exude one and a half times more liquid when carved. So therefore we recommend buying regular pork if you can and brining it yourself to acquire moist tender cuts of pork.
The nutritional profile of enhanced is similar to regular pork, with the exception of the addition of sodium. The sodium content in enhanced is very comparable to other commonly eaten, healthy foods. Most enhanced products meet food certification standards for the American and Canadian Heart Associations heart check program.
|Product||Serving Size||Sodium (mg)|
|Tomatoe Soup||1 cup (250g)||695|
|Tomatoe Sauce||1/2 cup (125g)||330|
|Cottage Cheese||1/2 cup (125g)||410|
|Raisin Bran Cereal||1.5 cups (88g)||370|
|Canned Tuna||3 oz (85g)||287|
|White Bread||1 Slice||150|
|Enhanced Chicken Breast||4 oz (113g)||150-400*|
|Enhanced Pork||4 oz (113g)||200-400*|
*Sodium content may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer and on enhancement level.
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