Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA suggests
the following food safety guidelines. "Although all
hot dogs are fully cooked, you should reheat them and
make sure they are steamy hot throughout." Let's think
through what's happening as hot dogs cook.
Our first thought is that both the powdered dry milk
and the starches found in cereals are geared to absorbing
moisture. Starches do not allow moisture to enter until
they are heated. While cooking, however, heat breaks
bonds within the starch granules, allowing moisture
to enter so the starch swells.
Ingredients related to smoking and curing contribute
to flavor, color, and preservation, but to our knowledge
are not related to swelling.
Probably the most important factor at work is the extraordinarily
power of water turning to steam as it's heated. Inside
those hot dogs you'll find water added as an ingredient,
along with water in the form of moisture within the
meat, and possibly moisture within the fat, (depending
on the type of fat) One volume of water can expand 1600
times as it turns to steam. No wonder those hot dogs
swell. And no wonder they shrink as they cool!
Hot dog experts we invite your comments, and Cynthia,
we're keen to know the results of your experiments!
Anne & Sue