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Brian Dougherty

A question for sausage makers

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I have been dabbling with making summer sausage recently.  One of my motivations is my wife has health issues that keep her from eating typical sausage meats.  However she can eat lean beef including the 93% lean ground that is so common now.  What I have been doing is adding another 3% fat in the form of olive oil to get the sausage up to a total of 10%, and then smoking/cooking it off.  It has been turning out pretty well, and I have been playing with the seasoning to get it to where we both like it.

However I have a questions about the curing process.  Most online sources of information seem to be blindly repeating information that was previously "Learned" online.  You know, "heat your sausage up to non-magnetic, and smoke in used motor oil while the door to the smoke house points north" sort of stuff.  Just like anything else you try to learn off the web, you have to filter out the regurgitated garbage from good info and the mostly correct info.

The general process is to mix your seasonings and curing salts into the meat and let it rest overnight before stuffing so that the nitrite in the curing salt can do its job.  Then stuff into casings.

I am wondering why you can't stuff the casings immediately after mixing in the curing salt and seasonings.  Then let the stuffed casing cure overnight.  It makes stuffing easier, and the finished product seems ok, but I'd prefer to avoid playing around with botulism.

This seems like an obvious questions but I haven't found the answer.  I bought a copy of a book that sausage types seem to consider the meat curing bible, but haven't found the answer in it yet.

I know we have some self sufficient folks hanging around here that prepare their own meat, so what do you all do?

 

Edited by Brian Dougherty

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When we do ours (and I just had some with part of my lunch an hour ago) we do not let it sit before stuffing it.  We do let it sit overnight, but I am not entirely sure that is necessary.  We generally smoke ours fairly fast; just a few hours, but it really depends on sausage thickness (our 4" rounds are the biggest we do).  I think if we were going to do a colder smoke at about 100 *F for a couple days it may be more critical.  The curing agents keep bad things from growing, and those things grow best within a certain temperature range.  If you shoot through that temperature range faster than they can grow (as we tend to do, I think) then it is OK.  If you smoke it cold enough (like refrigerated temps) then the cure can act while you are getting the smoke flavor.  I don't see how it can matter if the meat is in a case or not for the curing agents to do their thing.  

We've done it this way for a decade without any problems (and loads of compliments).  

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Thanks Jerrod.  I can't think of why the curing salts won't do there thing in the case either unless it is because the casings block the air flow.  

FWIW, the dangerous temperature range is usually called out as 40F to 140F.

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As Jerrod noted you must jump over the pearlite nose of spoilage. One of the reasons for the overnight rest, in a refridgerator, is to allow the fat to temper and harden up and create defined grain bounderies. 

Edited by Vern Wimmer
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I have been making my own sausage (and salami) for a few years now and generally freeze the meat till I have enough to make a decent batch. I grind it cold after thawing and then mix in the spices and herbs. It is forced into the skins straight away.  I dont put any curing salts in the sausage but do in the salami but then the salami sits in the fridge overnight before it  is smoked for 6 hours so the salts still have time to do their thing.

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I was born into the butchery trade here in the UK and have probably made tons of sausages over the years. We first processed the meat from fresh then mixed in all the bits and pieces until we had a suitable mix. The sausages were then stuffed and hung in the fridge overnight. They were ready as soon as they were made, but the overnight refrigeration was to stop then spitting all over the place and splitting when cooked. The overnight thing allowed then to dry out a bit to make them easier to cook!

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Thanks all.

Vern, Do you suppose that if I put it in the fridge overnight, let it come to room temperature, and then repeat these steps 2 more times that the grain would be further refined? :lol:

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Garry's comment made me think I should probably add that we too freeze our venison until it is time to make sausage, at which point we buy refrigerated pork to add to it.  Not sure how that would make a difference, but it is a potential variable.  We just got 3 deer cut up and put in the freezer.  Probably won't make sausage until around either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  

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5 hours ago, Brian Dougherty said:

Thanks all.

Vern, Do you suppose that if I put it in the fridge overnight, let it come to room temperature, and then repeat these steps 2 more times that the grain would be further refined? :lol:

"Room temperature" is an imprecise term. You need to be aware if the suet point of your paricular meat alloy. If you exceed that you will push it to the tallow zone and weaken the grain boundries. The best way to determine this is by making what we call a "pattie" and subject it to a test cycle, then break it open and see how it worked.

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20 minutes ago, Vern Wimmer said:

"Room temperature" is an imprecise term. You need to be aware if the suet point of your paricular meat alloy. If you exceed that you will push it to the tallow zone and weaken the grain boundries. The best way to determine this is by making what we call a "pattie" and subject it to a test cycle, then break it open and see how it worked.

:lol:

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