05-23-2015, 11:15 PM
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I was asked to write something about sausage making. Here it is.

Basic sausage making.

I wrote the subject with a chuckle because ALL sausage making is basic. We just think that it’s difficult, and we definitely can make it more difficult than it needs to be. But in principal, sausage making is really simple and easy. There are some rules though. Ground meat wants to spoil easily and the rules are mostly designed to make it safe to eat. Follow the rules and anyone can make great sausage and I do mean anyone. That means you!

Why would you want to make your own sausage!?
I can think of 2 reasons, but the most important to me is to be in control of the quality. Commercial sausage is full of... well, things you wouldn’t eat if you saw what it was. The slaughter houses have folks whose job it is to pull "edible items" out of the gut pile for sale to sausage makers. When last I knew it was available for around $1 per pound. That $3/lb kielbasa you’ve been buying? Can you guess what most of it is? That’s why what you see when you cut into it is a pink matrix of unidentifiable "stuff" and few pieces of meat that can be seen suspended in it.

The 2nd reason I can think of is price and still get a quality sausage, this is related to #1. We make the highest quality sausage that can possibly be made for about $2/lb. We don’t add items from the gut pile to get this cost either. Of course if we factored in our time it would be far more costly, but our time is ours to do with as we wish. I don’t need to pay for it.

Whoops a 3rd reason... We control the taste. When you’re the one adding the flavorings you can make it precisely the way you like it and not just settle for someone elses idea of what it should taste like. Case in point... my wife and I are hot heads. No one makes hot Italian sausage to our liking, or pepperoni for that matter. But our hot sausage is 100% to our agreement. Others won’t like it, but we don’t make it for others, just ourselves.

What is sausage?
Sausage in it’s simplest form is a mixture of meat, fat, and flavorings. That’s it. It’s the different meats, flavorings, and sometimes a deliberately added and specific bacillus that produces the seemingly endless variety of sausages. Sausage has been made for centuries at least with little more than a knife and a cutting board, so making sausage today with all of the various small appliances and labor saving devices we have access to today makes it super simple. Trust me; you can make sausage. 300 years ago they couldn’t read, had no idea of hygiene or what made spoilage, and no clue as to curing agents to prevent spoilage and they made fine sausages, you have far more going for you today. Why do you need fat? Without it the sausage will be dry. Also, fat is where the flavor is. You want your sausage to be near 20% fat, any more isn’t required and any less will yield a dry sausage. You want to eat meat and not fat. That means, for example, to use the entire pork butt (less lymph nodes) and the entire beef chuck. Other cuts will need fat added to them or trimmed off, one cut comes to mind, beef brisket. The primal cut of brisket contains far too much fat and needs trimming.

I already suggested that the minimal equipment required is a knife and cutting board, and I meant that. But there are some things that will make the job go much faster and make it much easier to accomplish. The first of which is a meat grinder. There are grinders that attach to a stand mixer, and that’s what we use. I have an Ankarsrum Assistent (not a misspelling) and use their grinder attachment. The grinder that goes onto it is capable of grinding 300 pounds per hour if I have help to keep bringing me the meat and to remove what has been ground. The limiting factor is the help, not the machine, it’s faster than I am. There is another very popular brand of mixer with a short bodied plastic grinder. Lots of folks use them, but I can’t recommend them. They are known to not grind the meat so much as smear the meat and fat together. But lots of folks use the combination, and the price is very attractive. For years I used a far less capable Hamilton Beach grinder and it worked. It didn’t work well, but it did work... sort of. Then there are the grinders that are built from the countertop up to be a grinder and nothing but a grinder. That’s another way to go. Some of those models will far outperform what I use today. My advice is to find a commercial size grinder, that’s important when you need parts. Some grinders don’t have commercial counterparts and that makes you a slave to the manufacturer. For instance our Ankarsrum grinder is a commercial 10/12 size. The grinder plates aren’t precisely 10/12 standard, but with a hand grinder I can make any 10/12 grinder plate fit it and I have. They require a notch to be cut into the outer edge; it’s no big deal. But without a commercial size you’re stuck if the manufacturer doesn’t make what you want.

If you plan on making lots of sausage you’ll need something to put the meat and ground mixture into. By that I mean tubs/containers of some sort. We use the Cambro vessels from our food service supplier. For smaller quantities your existing kitchen bowls will work fine.

The other labor saver that we use is a sausage casing cone to hold our casings for filling them. That allows us to use our grinder to stuff casing. For quite awhile we would make our sausage in patties similar to a hamburger (bulk sausage). That works fine. The only downside to it is that a casing will allow for a juicier sausage since it holds juices in. A sausage without casing doesn’t. Sometimes it doesn’t matter and today we still make some sausage without casing but formed into patties. We do the forming by hand. Some sausage we just weigh out and put into baggies prior to vac packing it. Italian sausage for sauce and breakfast sausage for sausage gravy are 2 of these.

One more note regarding equipment... It is possible to make sausage with a food processor. We have done this and it works fine. Just be sure your blade is sharp and the meat close to or frozen. We added the spices and such right to the meat and let the FP mix it in as it "ground" the meat. We always used this method for bulk sausage.

Ingredients can be pretty much any meat; beef, pork, veal, lamb, fish, poultry, rattlesnake, alligator, you name it and if it’s fit for human consumption (or not) someone is making it into sausage. We stick with beef and pork, and pork mostly. When I say pork, I mean real pork and not things that can be added just to use them somewhere so as to turn a profit. Here in the US sausage can have a very small percentage of actual meat; the rest being things you would never eat if it hadn’t been emulsified into something nondescript. Hot dogs come to mind here. The sausage I’m suggesting we make is made up to a quality and not down to a price. Eat good sausage even once and the next time you get a piece of supermarket sausage from a commercial maker you’ll think it’s disgusting after putting it into your mouth. Commercial sausage is made of nasty things; that’s just the way it has to be to keep the price down. The manufacturers can’t buy $2/pound pork butt and make kielbasa for $3/lb with the manufacturing cost and shipping tacked on to it. It’s impossible. They must add bone and things picked from the gut pile to keep the cost down and "attractive".

General procedure: Pretty much all sausages are made the same way, with minor variations.
Your meat needs to be cut up. If you’re using beef chuck just use the entire chuck. I cut it into strips to fit my grinder. With our grinder, dropping one end of the strip in pulls the entire strip in. If you want to cube your meat, go for it. I let my grinder do that for me. More on that in a bit. If using pork butt (actually shoulder) remove the skin if it’s on it (some recipes use the skin). Boil the discarded skin for the dogs, they love it. We buy boneless, I suggest you do the same- wait for a sale on them. But if you have it bone-in you’ll need to remove the meat from the bone. Then proceed as though it was chuck; all the edible parts get used, that includes the fat. Your sausage must contain fat (about 20% is right). You need to cut it up. Keep your eye open for a greyish/brownish almost jelly like mass in the part of the butt that would be attached to the body of the animal. It’s edible and if you’ve eaten commercial sausage you’ve eaten plenty of them. It’s the lymph node. I remove it, you either can or don’t need to; you choose.

If it’s a cured sausage you’ll need to add the chemical cure at this point (flavorings can also be added now). Don’t guess as to the amount, the right amount is critical. Weigh it out and mix it in. We do this by hand. After mixing it in allow it to cure for at least 24 hours under refrigeration. You can go longer. The cure inhibits spoilage so you have time here. Curing the meat also prevents it from looking like ‘dead meat" after cooking and keeps it pink. Curing isn’t mandatory sometimes, many times it is, but it also gives a much more appetizing looking product. You can also add spices and such at this point.

After curing you have another opportunity to add flavorings. Just follow your recipe in this. If the recipe calls for peppercorns be sure to crack or coarse grind them. Sure, you can buy a sausage mixer for this, but our method doesn’t require one. Just mix it in by hand with the meat that is about to be ground. The grinder does the rest.

Then we like to half freeze the meat mixture. Your grinder will grind the meat so much better with meat that’s at least half frozen. Also, spoilage is an enemy. Keeping the meat half frozen will fight potential spoilage. Cold is a friend in sausage making. We like to make our sausages in the winter and use the huge refrigerator/freezer we have in the great outdoors. Our freon based cooling may be limited but the huge walk-in outdoors has unlimited capacity. But we also make sausage in the summer, so don’t let the lack of subzero outdoor temps keep you from it. We use aluminum baking sheet pans and spread the meat out to facilitate freezing. If the meat gets too frozen it hurts nothing. Actually along with the sheet pans we bring into use pretty much every roasting pan and whatever else we can use for freezing. The more spread out the meat the faster it freezes, I mean, half freezes.

OK, so at this point we have our mixture of half frozen meat strips/cubes and our cure and flavorings. This where a commercial size grinder comes in. Use the biggest plate on your grinder that can be obtained. I think for our Ankarsrum (10/12 size grinder) it was a 12mm plate. Those are huge holes. We were only able to hand mix our flavorings, and I didn’t cube the meat, I only cut it into strips. That can be a problem in the sausage, so I run the strips through the grinder with the honkin’ huge plate to get it finer and to further distribute the fat and meat throughout. The meat goes back into the freezer as soon as possible to keep it cold and refreeze it. Keep the grinder attachment with the meat so that what’s in it doesn’t have a chance to spoil.

At some point you’ll change out the grinder plate to one more in agreement with the recipe. Most recipes will specify a size in mm or in general terms (fine, medium, coarse). From this point on follow the recipe. If you don’t like what you get for results change it next time. Remember you can fine tune recipes for your palate.

We're about to either stuff casings to make the familiar sausage links that we all know or just form patties. We form patties by hand. If you intend to stuff casings you'll need to decide what size and type of casing you need and purchase it. Casing can be synthetic, animal derived, or even fabric. If it's animal casing it needs to be rinsed out before being filled. I use a large mixing bowl inside the sink to hold the length of casing. Running the water at a medium stream I hold the casing so that the water goes into it. As tangled as the casing appeared when I put it into the bowl, as it inflates with water it always seems to unravel. Allow it to inflate and run some water through it. As it's run up onto the sausage nozzle the water will come out and it will remain untangled which is exactly what you want. That makes the job easy.

Most sausage makers say don’t do what I’m about to tell you that I do. For the final grinding I attach the sausage tube that holds the casing. As I final grind we are also filling casing. I handle the grinder and keep an eye on the wife so that she can keep up. At this point you don’t want to form finished sausages, unless you want one continuous length. The goal here is only to fill casing. After running the rinsed casing up onto the tube, put a knot in the end and put it up against the end of the tube. As the meat comes out it will push the casing ahead of it. The trick is to hold the casing back just enough to fill the casing without overfilling it. A severely overfilled casing will burst as it’s being filled, the other type of overfill will burst as you form the links. It’s best to underfill rather than overfill, but exclude air. As the filled casing comes off the end of the tube we run it onto a sheet pan and coil it up. After the casing runs out (on the tube) I push the air out and put a knot against the meat mixture in the casing, or the end can simply be twisted. To form links grasp the sausage tube where you want the link to be. Pinch it using the meaty portion of your fingers, not the finger nail. Then spin the link you want to form. For the next link do the same except spin the link opposite the last one formed. Continue doing this until you run out of filled casing. Since we underfilled the casing, don’t be surprised when you have to push the meat "down" to properly fill a link. If there is too much air in the casing use a pin to allow it to escape. When possible I like to have that pin hole in a portion of the casing where I squeezed the meat out of. It’ll all make sense as you do it.

If you do have a burst casing it’s no big deal. First, learn from it. Second, just call that the end of that particular link and form your new links from that point, starting over again. Any meat that can be reused from burst casing or whatever, just run it through the grinder again and back into casing.

In a nutshell, that's sausage making.
 
Resources:

http://lpoli.50webs.com/index.htm, Simply a huge resource with lots of information, hundreds of sausage recipes, cured meats, and links to many more resources and recipes. Supplying this site makes my job easy because it’s all that you need. Look around and you’ll be amazed at what’s here and what it will lead you to. Seriously. Those folks who love for Taylor Pork Roll, I use this gents knockoff recipe and it's the real deal. It's a bit more complicated than "regular" sausage, but not by much. Break it down into steps and it's downright easy. I really like this resource... A LOT! It doesn't only contain what you think of as sausage,  but it has cold cuts and cured meat products.

http://krampertsfinest.com/Compiled-Sausage-Recipes A sausage recipe book that I compiled more years ago than I want to think about. All recipes from the ‘net, and no I haven’t tried them all, but it is one download for many recipes. Oh, and it's free. There are few sausages contained in it that the above resource doesn't have.

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 09-28-2015, 05:48 PM
#2
  • savagejoerude
  • If you ain't a LOSER, you ain't livin'!!
  • New Orleans USA
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Great article my friend. As you know I was once in a former life a Chef. I was luck enough to run a couple of kitchens when I was in the biz where I got to make fresh sausage. One also had a commercial smoker and I made some great smoked sausage there. Nothing like what you buy in the store. I also lived for a while in Tennessee where we killed the hogs and made fresh sausage right there... Talk about GOOD. They made breakfast sausage patty style. Then I brought out my tube and casings and showed them Italian, green onion , and Louisiana style hot sausage LINKS.. They still make some when they can get casing...  I still make fresh sausage when I have the time. Nothing better. After reading this I am thinking of getting out the old meat grinder and go to work... Pork shoulders are on sale $.99 a lb.. One thing I will say is sausage making is an art. I always say use what you like and experiment. There are as many recipes as there are sausage makers.....

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 09-29-2015, 03:10 PM
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I wish I could get shoulder for $.99/lb! I get it on sale for $1.89. Even so, compared to the price of really good quality sausage @ $8+ per pound I don't gripe too much.

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 10-29-2015, 08:16 AM
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Really nice article.  Might have inspired me to make a batch of sausage one of these days.  A few years back I went to the trouble of making Landjaeger sausages (curing, smoking, pressing, etc.).  That was quite a process but I do love some Landjaeger.

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 10-29-2015, 07:53 PM
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I absolutely love landesjaeger! I never made any though.

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 11-01-2015, 06:55 PM
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(10-29-2015, 07:53 PM)ShadowsDad Wrote: I absolutely love landesjaeger! I never made any though.

   Brian, you and me both! Smoked meat products make my mouth water. Must be the Northern European in me. I had a friend when I was in the Navy. His name was Charlie Whitehorse, he was Lakota Nation, Oglala Sioux. He came back to Norfolk Va to the  USS Seattle AOE-3 and gave me some pemican his Great Grandmother made from buffalo. 
   You would throw away the "jerky" they sell now. Chewy, soft, fatty,oily, tasty. my goodness, it was goodness itself. I have had nothing like it since and that was 1975.

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 11-01-2015, 08:30 PM
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You can make your own pemmican. It's not difficult. I haven't done it, but I bet you'd find the information on the 'net. It's basically dried and pounded meat with fat added. There can be other things in it, but that's the basic recipe. It's absolutely loaded with nutrition. As you know it's also traditional native American food.

My intro to landesjaeger was in '71. We were exchanged with a West German platoon as part of Project Partnership. At the end of the week it was time to return to our post but the Bundeswehr laid out a table for their troops to take what they wanted for weekend chow at home. That was music to my ears. There was the dense brot loaded with wheat berries and of course the landesjaeger.

Our normal chow was pretty terrible at our base (Dexheim- 12th Engr Battalion - I was in A Co) since the cooks were paying their rent and buying fraus with our food. But that week of Project Partnership was pure food heaven. We were considered officers according to the Bundeswehr and ate in the officers mess even though we were all Enlisted ranks, E4 and higher. Excellent food with wait service. It was like eating in a restaurant every meal. Even the field mess was excellent. Then it culminated with the landesjaeger and brot. There was probably cheese on the table as well, but I only had eyes for the sausage.

For those who don't know what it is... it's a pressed flat sausage, done on wooden slats, that's dried and smoked. Just fantastic stuff. It requires no refrigeration. It's unlike our jerky because of the fat content. It has more in common with pemmican, but that's a poor comparison as they are both quite distinct. Another bad comparison would be, oh what is the name of the dry sausage... it's greasy and about 3/8" in diameter, comes packed in a plastic tube wrapper (got it... Slim Jim). Anyway, that's still a poor comparison to landesjaeger.

After I got out of the military I found a German gent in the next town over who made the real stuff. I'd always take a few links when I went hunting. He made the best Hungarian sausage too. It was nice and garlicky, semi dry, and loaded with hot paprika.  But that's another story, the short version is that it was an excellent pork store.

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 11-02-2015, 05:57 AM
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Didn't mean to hijack the thread with landjaeger talk but it is great stuff.  In fact, when I decided to make some, I first needed to acquire a mini fridge for the garage so I keep keep the temperature and humidity correct during the whole process but that didn't stop me.  The results were quite good but the whole thing gave me new respect for the people who make it.

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 11-02-2015, 11:52 AM
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You didn't hijack anything. The thread is sausage making and you added to it. Feel free to do more hijacking of that nature! :-)

I agree; landesjaeger is better bought than made. You won't read that from me very often.

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 01-03-2016, 09:12 PM
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I have the makin's of NJ pork roll either on hand or on order. We put 3 pork butts in the freezer the other day (30lbs) , and I have the required bacilli on order as well as experimental casings. Since it's getting colder and I have a huge freezer outside, it's now sausage making time.

Knock off Taylor Pork Roll (TPR) aka Taylor Ham, might seem difficult, but it's much easier than other sausage. It just has added steps that are done on subsequent days.

We've been out of Taylor Ham for a few months now and we're both looking forward to getting our resupply of it. Those who know about TPR know about it and those who don't will wonder, "Why all the fuss?". But it's delicious and many folks from there pay dearly to have it shipped to them. Now that I can make it we have as much as we want.

Hopefully I'll be able to take some pix of the operation.

Here's the recipe I use: http://lpoli.50webs.com/index_files/NewJ...rkRoll.pdf

We want to make a mess of hot Italian sausage and Keilbasa too. If time and space in the freezer permits maybe some hot dog size kielbasa.

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