what is beef bologna made of

Much like hot dogs, bologna is commonly made of beef, pork, turkey or chicken that is finely ground and stuffed into a casing for cooking which is often later removed. The bologna is cooked or smoked and then either packaged whole or sliced.

Generations of Americans spent their childhood tucking into bologna sandwiches. In the school cafeteria, the home kitchen, and everywhere else, this simple meal of white bread and smooth, pink meat reigned supreme.

Like most cafeteria foods, however, bologna receives a less-than-stellar response from adults. So widespread is this dismissal of the meat that it is even part of the United States lexicon, as explained to Eater by professor of food studies Amy Bentley: “Its been inserted into the national psyche of despicable foods, laughable foods. Thats baloney, thats crazy. Thats how we think of it. Its been embedded in our brains that way.”

Despite being widely mocked, bologna remains a desirable food product in some peoples eyes. In 2017, Americans purchased 236.4 million pounds of bologna from grocery stores. This number is all the more impressive given that a poll commissioned by the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council found that only 35% of American consumers know what bologna actually is. Given this shockingly low percentage, we thought it best to clarify a few things about one of Americas most pervasive sandwich meats, starting with what it actually is.

What is bologna meat?

Bologna is a cured ground meat sausage typically consisting of pork and beef trimmings that are blended into a smooth texture before being packed into a casing and cooked via smoke, heat, and/or vinegar.

It has a light, sweet flavor that makes it easy to work into various dishes. The taste, texture, and cooking applications of bologna change depending on the quality of ingredients used and the preparation method. Classic American bologna most people imagine on crackers or on white bread is far from the only option. For example, artisan bologna is closer to what we consider salami and artisan sausage to be.

In the United States, producers of bologna are required to finely grind the meat and no fat can be visible [*]. The meat used in bologna varies widely, but traditional low-cost bologna is made with miscellaneous meat trimmings and byproducts from pork, beef, chicken, or turkey. Organ meats such as heart and liver are also more prevalent in cheaper brands. Additional fat, water, and stock is often added to keep the texture moist.

Higher-cost bologna can be made with more select cuts of beef, but just because bologna uses trimmings and organs doesn’t mean it is bad. In fact, this product reduces waste and takes advantage of highly nutritious organ meats, known as offal. The issue is that in cheaper brands, the quality of the trimmings and organs is so poor that the overall nutritional value of the bologna is minimal and even harmful [*].

The spice blend in bologna is characteristic of its flavor as well. Apart from typical sausage spices such as nutmeg, pepper, and coriander, bologna often includes a spice called myrtle berry [*]. This spice grows on an evergreen shrub close to the Mediterranean, and it contributes to bologna’s signature flavor.

Here’s a broad look at what you will find in a typical bologna slice:

  • Meat trimmings and byproducts
  • Additional fat if needed
  • A casing of sorts (usually collagen or edible plastic)
  • Water
  • Stock
  • Sausage spices like coriander, nutmeg, and myrtle berry
  • Pink curing salt
  • Sugar

Bologna is a type of sausage made from finely ground meat and spices

Bologna is a type of sausage with roots in the Italian city of the same name. Like most food products, the sausage is defined by its texture and flavor. The texture arises due to the sausages production process, in which meat is finely ground alongside other ingredients, resulting in a paste-like consistency. Traditionally, the grinding was done by hand with a mortar and pestle. Today, machines break down meat in a rapid and uniform manner.

Most bologna is heavily spiced with the likes of coriander, nutmeg, and pepper. Yet, the sausages most prominent flavor notes — bitter, spicy, and with a hint of citrus – come from the inclusion of myrtle berries. These berries are native to the Mediterranean and have been used to flavor sausages for millennia.

The spiced, ground filling is mixed with water, sweetener, and extra fat before being encased and cured. Sometimes, bologna is also smoked. In other cases, liquid smoke is added. The intensity of this smoky flavor varies from producer to producer.

There are many types of bologna

While most Americans may only be familiar with the standard grocery store bologna, there are numerous types of bologna made in the country. Many of these are regional specialties not often found outside certain states.

In Pennsylvania, one of the most prominent types of bologna is ring bologna. This sausage is packed into a narrow, semi-circular casing which results in it carrying a more intense flavor of smoke. Commonly sliced up and eaten by itself, ring bologna has more in common with European dried salamis than it does the flaccid, store-bought discs of bologna found elsewhere in the U.S.

Another iteration of bologna native to Pennsylvania is Lebanon bologna. Traditionally, this type of bologna is made from beef, mixed with sugar and several warm-tasting spices. The sausages are then fermented and smoked. The end result is a complex, addictive sausage that can prove divisive. This was highlighted to Taste by chef Matt Russell: “Its salty; its smoked; its a little bit fermented. It is what it is. Some people dont like it for sure, but I think its too good on its own to kind of mess with.”

Finally, there is rag bologna, a variant hailing from west Tennessee. This sausage has a higher fat content when compared to other types of bologna, as well as more fillers. It was traditionally served wrapped in cloth, hence the name.

Much like hot dogs, bologna is commonly made of beef, pork, turkey or chicken that is finely ground and stuffed into a casing for cooking which is often later removed. The bologna is cooked or smoked and then either packaged whole or sliced.

FAQ

What parts of the cow are in beef bologna?

Ingredients. Most bolognas do not contain organ or variety meats, but some ring bolognas in parts of the U.S. might be made with hearts or livers.

What are the ingredients in beef bologna?

ingredients. Beef, Water, Salt, Corn Syrup, Contains Less than 2% of Sugar, Mustard Powder, Dextrose, Sodium Phosphate, Paprika, Onion Powder, Sodium Erythorbate, Spice Extracts, Sodium Nitrite.

Is beef bologna all beef?

Crafted with hand-trimmed cuts of beef and carefully selected spices, this all-beef bologna is made according to a traditional recipe. Boar’s Head Beef Bologna is bursting with rich flavor in each tender slice.

Is beef bologna healthy?

Bologna, like other processed meats, may be classified as one of the least healthy foods in the Western diet. It has been estimated that 800,000 lives could be saved each year if bologna and other processed meats were eliminated from the diet.

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