Fred'll fix it

Q My company is looking for training courses for butchers in south-east England. Do you have any recommendations? MC

A The best-known training centre for butchers in the south-east of England today is probably M.E.A.T (Ipswich). It is a private company that specialises in food and meat industry training, providing a range of structured courses and apprenticeships.

Trainees can be taught at its base in Ipswich, although training is also carried out in the workplace. The organisation delivers courses all over England to assist butchers and farmers to diversify into new areas.

This includes enhancing and developing butchery skills, design of premises, labelling and the law, HACCP and marketing, to name a few.

It delivers NVQs in food manufacturing that provide a route or pathway into a multitude of different disciplines, covering not only aspects of meat manufacturing but training in retail butchery too. M.E.A.T (Ipswich) says it will work with companies to structure and tailor courses and training to suit their requirements and needs. It also runs apprenticeship schemes. Funding is currently available to train 16-18-year-olds and there is limited funding available for those over 19 and people over 25.

Given the importance of meat within the food industry there are relatively few colleges that offer butchery courses today. Moves are now afoot to re-establish a butchery training centre in the capital. Those involved in trying to set up the new centre have been looking at the successful Seafood Training School in Billingsgate, east London.


Q Someone mentioned the term 'tenderstretch' the other day. What is it? S McT

A It is a method of hanging (mainly) beef carcases to prevent contraction of the muscles or 'cold shortening'. If beef and lamb are chilled rapidly after slaughter, there is the danger of 'cold shortening' and the meat will be tough to eat.

Tenderstretch is a somewhat controversial technique, whereby carcases are hung by the aitch-bone rather than by the more conventional method of hanging by the hind legs. It is said that by hanging on a bracket by the aitch-bone, the back and loin of the animal are stretched more effectively and naturally by the sheer weight of the carcase.

It is not so effective with lambs, because of their smaller size. Some people are concerned, however, that there is always the danger of the aitch bone breaking. Tenderstretch is also known as 'hip hanging'.


Q I am looking to stock a range of German-style sausages in my shop. How many different types are there? ST

A Germany has a long tradition of producing sausages. It is estimated there are nearly 1,500 differently named sausages made in Germany, so you will have your work cut out in deciding what to stock. While there are many different names and brands, they can be divided into about three main types Rohwurst, Kochwurst and Brühwurst. If you stock at least one of each of the three types, you will be giving you customers a very good and varied choice indeed.

Rohwurst is smoked, cured or air-dried meat. Some varieties can be spread and others sliced. Landjäger, salame and teewurst come into this category. Kochwurst is effectively a liver sausage and is steamed or boiled for some time. It is eaten cold. Most Kochwurst contains chunks of meat. The German versions of white and black pudding are regarded as Kochwurst.

Finally, Brühwurst is probably the best-known type of German sausage, as both frankfurters and bratwurst come under this broad category, where sausages are usually lightly smoked and scalded.

The term 'hot dog' originated in America sometime after 1900 and refers, of course, to frankfurters in a long bun. Before then they were know as 'red hots'. There is much debate about how the name originated, but my favourite is that it was coined by an American sports cartoonist, Tad Dorgan, who saw them being given out at a baseball game and hastily drew a cartoon depicting the frankfurters as barking dachshunds. Unfortunately he could not spell 'dachshund!' So he called them 'hot dogs' and the term stuck.

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