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Vegan sausages are a type of food that attempts to reproduce the flavor and texture of meat sausages without the use of any animal products. There are both commercially produced vegan sausages as well as recipes that can be made at home. Some vegans prefer to prepare these sausages at home to ensure that no animal products are incorporated. Although there are a variety of ingredients that can be used to create these sausages, the most common are beans, tofu and seitan.
Many recipes for vegan sausages use a combination of ingredients that are designed to provide the texture and flavor of a sausage made from beef or pork. One frequent problem with this type of cooking is the need for a vegan binder that allows the mixture to retain its shape during cooking. Eggs cannot be used in truly vegan recipes, so other binders — such as potato flour, wheat gluten and chickpea flour — are added instead.
If beans or tofu are used to create the sausages, even with a binder, they might be too delicate in texture to cook like a traditional sausage. Wrapping the sausage mixture in foil and then steaming or boiling it for some time can help set the ingredients or can cook the links completely through. If steaming is used only to set the mix, then the sausages can be quickly fried or grilled afterward to develop texture on the surface.
Seitan is a popular ingredient for making vegan sausages. It is a form of vital wheat gluten, and it can be purchased either as a powder or as a pre-made loaf. When seitan is combined with water and sometimes flour, it begins to form into a type of dough that, after it is cooked, has a strong textural resemblance to meat. Prepared seitan is also a very sturdy ingredient and can stand up to a variety of cooking methods.
Beans such as red pinto beans and black beans are popular choices as well, providing a very meaty texture for the sausage. A bowl of mashed beans will not hold a cohesive shape, so wheat flour or gluten must be added to thicken the base. Flavors from spices such as cumin and hot peppers are better absorbed by beans than seitan in some instances.
In the commercial production of vegan sausages, tofu is often the primary ingredient. It can be mixed with beans or vital gluten wheat for added texture and can be infused with a variety of spices. Commercial sausages can rely on binders, firmly pressing the mixture in industrial machines or soy-based casings to help maintain their shape during shipping and cooking.
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