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Wanted: Bologna Maker

posted: 04/11/12
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Mike Rowe, host of Dirty Jobs.
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Wanted: The job may be rough, dirty and sticky, complete with fat globs and blood clots, but you also need to be strong, quick and skilled to properly perform any of the steps it takes to package a few good slices of bologna.

Job Description:

In between two slices of bread, bologna (or baloney, as many pronounce it) might seem like a pretty simple product. Just grind up a lot of meat, squeeze it into a casing, lop off a few slices and you're ready to send the kids off to school, right?

Warning: If the above is your idea of a hard-core bologna maker gig, you need not apply.

Making bologna, especially the old-fashioned, smoked type, is an intensive process, and bologna makers need several days to get it to its perfect sliced, packaged form. Bologna is an American sausage similar to Italian mortadella, a ground pork sausage with cubes of lard that comes from the Italian city of none other than - you guessed it - the city of Bologna. This sausage is made from much more than pork, however: It can contain meat scraps from several different animals, such as chicken, turkey, beef and pork. Before these meats are ground, bologna makers strip away any excess fat or leftover blood clots from the meat scraps. Note to healthy eaters: the sausage is a pretty lean meat, and it contains no more than 10 percent fat.

Bologna is as much a recipe as it is a processed meat. After the meat is ground up, you will need to add several ingredients into the mix, including starter culture (to kill any dangerous bacteria like E. coli or salmonella), sugar (if the bologna in question is sweet meat), corn sugar, salt, spices and nitrate (to keep the meat's red color).

After machines grind the meat once again to the right consistency, you and the other bologna makers package it tightly in plastic casings. The sausage will hang for two whole days in tall smokehouses, under which planks of wood burn. Once the bologna has soaked up its smoky taste, it's packaged at lightning speed into plastic wrapping and ready for the deli.

Desired Skills and Qualifications

A bologna maker needs to have a no-nonsense attitude on the job; in other words, this job demands real skill and there's no baloney around the smokehouse. Quality of the meat is of the utmost importance when making bologna, and those meat scraps can't have any visible fat on them before grinding.

A pair of strong arms also helps. It takes a lot of oomph to pack bologna into those plastic casings or to toss them up and down the smokehouse. But precision and quickness is also important, since the process of packaging and distributing the meat around the facilities determines both the quality of the meat and whether or not you meet your bologna quota for the day.

Why You Should Want This Job

If you're a meat lover with a penchant for quality control and a knack for precision, producing these spicy, smoky sausages might be the job for you. There are many different steps in the bologna-making process, but each one requires solid training and experience to do well.

Get More HowStuffWroks.com

All of that meat in bologna, whether it's from chickens, turkeys, cows or pigs, is cooked before you buy it at the store. But what if you were stranded in the wilderness and had to catch your food -- Could You Eat Raw Meat? And how do you know if the meat you're eating is from a Cloned Animal? Plus, if bologna's not your thing, maybe you'd be more interested in How Spam Works.

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