Saturday, February 20, 2016

Making sausage

I have this insatiable need to know stuff. If it catches my imagination, it is a lost cause. I will find out.

I'm not so much about blogging, but it's that curiosity bump that just won't go away.

I wanted to try my hand(s) at making sausage. Fresh sausage is no fun, but I don't have a sausage grinder or a sausage stuffer and really I try to stay away from things that might not be available at some point. Like electrical gadgets that do nothing but stuff meat into pig intestines...

I used a simple recipe I found on It was intended as a fresh sausage, but I figured it was worth a try.

The initial batch I used hamburger (20% fat) instead of pork because I couldn't find any ground pork.

Most of the fresh "sausage" I wrapped and put in the freezer. But I took two pieces a step further. I added a little more salt, since I knew it would be curing for a while, then wrapped one in plastic and stuck it in the back of the refrigerator. The other I packed tightly into a small jar, then inverted it into a larger jar so it had air on all sides, spread salt over the outside and left it, also, in the refrigerator.

Today, a month later, I pulled them out and put both pieces in a 200 degree oven for a couple of hours (since I don't have a smoker).

I made...sausage, or something. Not quite sure what I'd call it. It's not like any sausage I've ever had before.

The two pieces are very different.

#1, packed sausage. Very solid, and very dark. VERY salty. The texture is like jerky, or one of those "beef sticks" that are sold in supermarkets. The outside is chewy but not tough, the inside more like pepperoni but not at all soft or smooth as pepperoni would be. I can tell it could do with a higher percentage of fat. The flavor isn't familiar but it doesn't taste "off" or bad in any way. The color is a uniform dark brown all the way through. The core temperature was up around 160 degrees.

#2, wrapped sausage. I can tell the two were from the same batch, but good grief the difference. This one is visibly raw (although it doesn't smell like it's gone off either) and crumbly. The outside inch is dark gray, the inside still slightly pink so I'm guessing that either it didn't age long enough or the air getting to the outside is necessary for aging. The core temperature on this one was also around 160 degrees after 4 hours in a 200 degree oven.

I'll cook #2 for dinner tonight to make sure it's safe. The other--I think it's fine the way it is. Now I need to get some glass or metal tubes to use for molds and try it again. A higher percentage of fat this time, and a little less salt.

I know now that sausage CAN be made without the casings. Now to experiment...

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