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Homemade sausage: How good it is

Jul 6th, 2016 | Category: Cooking

by Corina Sahlin

Maybe it’s the German in me, or maybe it’s the prospect of creating easy, quick, healthy meals for my family… Making and eating sausage is a big feature in our homesteading life. Even if you don’t raise your own pigs, beef or chicken, or if you don’t hunt game, you still can easily make sausage at home.

Stuffed sausages. PHOTO BY CORINA SAHLIN

Stuffed sausages. PHOTO BY CORINA SAHLIN

You can use any kind of meat for sausage: breakfast-type sausages and chorizo sausage usually call for pork and maybe a mixture of pork and beef, many middle-eastern sausages use lamb, and several healthful alternatives consist of chicken or turkey. As long as you keep the correct ratio of meat to fat (about 80 percent meat to 15 to 20 percent fat), your sausage will turn out great! As always, I recommend using high quality, organic, preferably local meat.

Traditionally, sausage was made with all the parts of an animal so nothing got wasted, but nowadays people often use pork shoulder, because it’s economical and already has the right ratio of meat to fat. If you use chicken or turkey, you need to use the white and dark meat, as well as some of the skin (for fat), or add another kind of binder, otherwise the sausage will be too dry and fall apart. The same goes for game meat, which is leaner than other meat. We usually add pork fat or ground pork to venison to create a delicious sausage.

You need a meat grinder or a Kitchen Aid stand mixer with a meat grinding attachment if your meat is not ground already.  Meat grinders cost between $100 and $250 new, but ours paid for itself many times over already. Maybe you can borrow one from a friend in exchange for sausages. You also need a sausage stuffer, or instead you could just shape the sausages into patties and freeze them. You also need casings if you want to stuff sausage (more on that later).

Start with partially frozen meat, because it cuts and grinds much better that way. If the meat is not cut off the bone, it’s time to do this first. Then cut the meat in even cubes small enough to fit into your meat grinder. Cut any large pieces of connective tissue, which could clog up your grinder. Weigh your meat and grind it. You need to know the weight so you can add the correct amount of spices in your recipe.

Some people start with ground meat, including us because that’s how we have the butcher package it after he slaughters our hogs. Even though it’s ground, we still put it through the grinder again to make it nice and fine.

Remember: you are aiming for a mixture that has about 15 to 20 percent fat.

Adding spices and herbs to the ground meat. PHOTOS BY CORINA SAHLIN

Adding spices and herbs to the ground meat. PHOTOS BY CORINA SAHLIN

Next comes the fun part: adding spices and herbs to create the flavor you love! There are a huge numbers of recipes out there, and I recommend googling recipes for the types of sausages you love. We dissolve the spices in 1/2 cup of water for every 5 pounds of meat because they are easier to mix that way. Don’t be shy to use your hands to mix everything thoroughly.

You can now freeze the meat in quart ziplock bags as patties or even vacuum seal them, which is incredibly convenient and easy, or you can stuff the meat into casings to create a traditional sausage. In either case, you should fry up a little patty to make sure you like the taste and adjust accordingly.

If you decide to stuff sausage into casings, make sure you follow the directions for dealing with the casings. Many types of casings are made of animal intestine or edible beef collagen, and they have to be soaked for a while first.

Before you start stuffing the meat, lubricate the outside of the stuffing tube with some fat before sliding the casing onto it, because it helps with feeding it off the tube.  When stuffing, make sure there are no air pockets in the meat.

Sausage stuffing can be an art and takes a little bit of practice, and it helps to have two people work together: one to feed the meat into the stuffer, and the other to handle the stuffed tube which is the sausage. Once you get the hang of it, it’s super easy and fun!sausage 4

First, slide a little bit of the casing on the stuffing tube out and tie a knot in the end, then let the meat feed into the casing slowly, which automatically pulls the casing off the tube. If you use natural casing, you twist it at certain intervals to make it into links of whatever size sausage you want. If you use collagen casing you need to tie it into links with cotton butcher string.

Following are some of our favorite recipes.

Breakfast Sausage

Ingredients 

10 pounds of ground pork

5 Tablespoons salt

1 Tablespoon ground pepper

6 Tablespoons rubbed sage

3 teaspoon ginger

3 teaspoon nutmeg

3 teaspoon thyme

1 pint of water

 

 

Kielbasa Sausage

Ingredients 

5 pounds ground pork

1/2 cup water

8 cloves fresh garlic (run it through a garlic press)

2 teaspoons black pepper

4 teaspoons salt

3 teaspoons marjoram

 

 

Caraway Sausage

I put everything except the meat in my Cuisinart to chop the onions and mix the spices in.

 

Ingredients 

5 pounds ground pork

3/4 cup cold white wine

3 Tablespoons caraway seeds

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

1 cup minced onions

4 Tablespoons maple syrup

4 Tablespoons salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons allspice

 

Corina Sahlin homesteads in Marblemount with her family and offers online courses through her website. For more information, see www.marblemounthomestead.com.

Published in the July 2016 issue of Grow Northwest

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