TO MAKE SAUSAGES
& COOKING ARTICLE
making . . . all you ever wanted to know about sausage
making but were afraid to ask by Tallyrand
sausages are best cooked just prior to serving. They
will only keep a few days in the refrigerator but can
be frozen for future use, so make them in bulk. Sausages
are traditionally stuffed into casings (artificial or
natural) but can also be formed into patties and fried
like hamburgers, made up of minced (ground) meat and
spices. The variations are endless and only limited
by your own imagination: pork, beef, lamb, venison,
pheasant, duck, fish, seafoods or vegetarian ones even.
If you can imagine it, make it, you can stuff it! (into
a sausage casing of course)
sausages can further be divided into semi-dry and dried
sausages. Semi-dry sausages, such as summer sausage
and hot dogs are cooked, either in hot water or a smokehouse
and will keep under refrigeration for months. Dry sausages
are not cooked but are dried to about 75% of their stuffed
weight over a period of several months and will keep
for years at room temperature. Both types can be fermented
by the addition of a lactic acid producing bacteria
culture that provides a wonderful tang to the sausage
in addition to the enhancement of long keeping qualities.
in the word cured is the use of an agent or process
that provides long term keeping properties to the sausage.
The use of salt, drying and fermentation are examples
of curing that have been used for millennia. Modern
public health practices demand the use of chemical agents
in the form of nitrites and/or nitrates to assure the
destruction of pathogenic organisms such as that which
cannot emphasise the need for high standards of kitchen,
food and personal hygiene when attempting sausage making.
The average household or even the average kitchen has
enough bacteria and germs to make the normal person
sick. Hygiene is something that should be in the front
of the mind the whole time when making sausages.
So being fanatical about cleanliness and hygiene when
sausage making is a must:
a water/soap mixture of 100 : 1 to thoroughly clean
counter surfaces before and after use (be sure to
rinse with fresh hot water).
hot soapy water to clean all tools and then pouring
boiling water over them to rinse, this should be
done before and after using them
hand-washing, between tasks is a must, but using
disposable gloves for each task is also recommended
of the most common and lethal bacteria is botulinum,
it can occur in food products before the first hint
of a foul odour or other form of food spoilage occurs.
It is a food poisoning caused by the pathogen (bacteria
that cause food poisoning) clostridium botulism. The
pathogen is easily destroyed by boiling, but their toxin
producing spores are not so easily destroyed at 100ºC
(boiling point of water). They thrive in a low acid,
moist environment that is lacking of oxygen. If the
sausage is stored above the temperature of 4ºC, bacteria
will multiply, so always store them in the refrigerator
until just before required for cooking . . . do
not leave sausages sitting in the sun when barbecuing!
take a look at sausage casings; sausages require casings;
something to stuff the mixture into. They can be split
up into two general catagories, natural and man made.
Natural casings are the intestines of animals, more
specifically those of cows, pigs, lamb or sheep. Man
made ones are made from various materials. Man made
casings need little or no preparation but the fibrous
ones need to be soaked before use, but that is the extent
of the preparation.
casings are another story however. They can come in
a package of brine or in a heavily salted brine/water
paste, or even in a cake of salt. These need to be pre-treated
before use. The first reason is to dilute the salt to
a palatable level and to prevent them from getting so
tough that you need a chainsaw to cut through them.
casings come in a wide variety of sizes and are usually
sold by what’s called a bundle/hank or half hank. The
bundle or hank is about 80 metres, and will hold about
20kg of meat (sheep/lamb casing) or about 50kg of meat
in the medium sized hog casing. There is no way to determine,
except through trial and error how much casing is needed
for a batch of meat. Any leftovers go back into the
original bag with maybe a teaspoon more salt, and then
vacuum seal the bag if you can to help make the odour
in the fridge stay at a level that is appealing to the
sausages call for specific casings, the recipes
usually tell you what to use, but in general the following
will help determine what casing to use for what sausage:
for sausages that require thicker than normal
casings, and usually are not eaten with the
in sizes from 85mm to over 125mm, and are
used for such sausages as Capocolla, Veal
Sausage, Large Bologna, Lebanon and cooked
in size from 135mm inches to over 250mm and
are traditionally used for Mortadella or for
minced (ground) speciality sausages.
in size from 43mm to over 110mm and come as
natural whole product or can be sewn to increase
the size. They are traditionally used for
the types of bologna Leona style sausage,
dry and semi-dry Cervelats, dry and cooked
salami and also for veal sausage.
Rounds or Beef Rings
28 mm to over 44 mm and are used traditionally
for ring Bologna, ring liver sausage, mettwurst,
Polish Sausage, blood sausage, Kishka and
the most widely used and are the most common
ones found when you go to buy "casings".
They are usually by the bundle and are strung
through a plastic ring as a group. If care
is not taken upon opening the package, you
can spend hours trying to untangle them. Casings
range in size from just under 32mm and go
to just over 44 mm, and are used for country
style sausage, linked hot sausage, large frankfurters,
Kishka, Kielbasa and pepperoni.
in 2 varieties "regular" and "sewn".
The regular bungs are about 1 inch in diameter,
give or take a quarter inch or so. The sewn
range in size of 2.5 to 4 inches. Bungs are
used in making liver sausage, Braunschweiger,
Genoa and the German white Thuringer sausages.
part of the pig that is referred to as chitterlings
or sheep casings
a nice white colour, relatively strong for
how flimsy they look and are the most tender
of natural casings when it comes to eating
them. They range in size from 16 to just over
26 mm and are used for most pork sausages,
hot dogs and for sausage sticks.
natural casings for sausages
the natural casings from the package, and place them
in a large bowl, spread them out, and examine the
way they are bound.
the amount that you will need for your sausages (be
excessive, any leftovers can be added back to the
the casings to be used in a second bowl and fill with
water, allow to soak for a few minutes then drain
a few inches of water in the sink; drain the casings
again, place in the sink.
a casing, open one end and fill the entire casing
with water from the tap, do it for one whole length,
then drop it and move to the next one, basically flush
in the sink of water and then withdraw what you need
as you are ready to stuff it (after they are stuffed,
you need to remove all the air pockets; poke the casings
with a tip of a knife, a sewing needle or pin).
casings for sausages
though made of natural ingredients is classed as man-made
as it is produced / manufactured. Cattle hide has
two layers, the hair side and the flesh side. The
flesh side is dried, ground and dissolved and reformed
into casings. These are formed into tubes, with a
definite diameter, and are extremely uniform. The
only variation in home made sausages will be the packing
them to uniform tightness, which is not an easy task
by hand. They are available in clear and mahogany
coloured, and they come in a range of sizes for a
particular type of sausage: 18 to 32 mm. On a negative
note, if you over stuff one, it splits a long way
and is a pain to recover from.
are used to make dry and semi dry sausages, and have
fibres running the breadth and length of them. They
allow for a much tighter packing of the meat on the
inside, and generally have a protein inner lining,
that makes removing them easy along with allowing
them to shrink to fit as the sausage dries. They come
in sizes ranging from 37mm to 150mm in diameter and
varying lengths. They usually need some sort of soak
time to make them usable. They are usually factory
tied at one end, and need a special knot when you
tie the other end, so that the knot won't unravel
and cause the interior to drop to the floor.
plastic, or something so close it doesn't matter.
Advantages are that it need no special care before
use, can be cut uniform, so that all packages are
the same size and weight and can be packed super tight.
Available just about any size, shape or colour you
desire. The disadvantages that they are no good for
smoking; the smoke will stain the plastic and the
flavour will also stay on the plastic and not get
to the meat.
subject that seems to cause the most confusion to beginners
is that of cures and best done only when you have thoroughly
understood the process and are serious about doing it.
Cures come in various forms and with various names,
but the bottom line is that one type contains sodium
nitrite and the other contains sodium nitrate.
The generic name for the former is Prague Powder No
1 and the latter is No 2. These go under various trade
names, but are always recognised by the Prague nomenclature.
Not readily available, but you may find them at your
local chemist (pharmacy) or ask your local butcher.
No 1 is used for cured sausages that fall into the
semidry category in addition to other cooked products
such as "boiled" ham.
No 2 is used for dried sausages and country cured
hams and bacon.
of these powders are combined with enough salt so that
they can be measured out by the teaspoon for recipes.
They are also coloured pink to distinguish them from
common salt. In addition to the anti-bactericidal effects
of cures, the most obvious effect of cures is the pink
colour of the finished product. These cures are readily
available from the many sources of sausage making supplies.
is another subject that has been much maligned. It is
either ignored completely, declared too complicated
for amateurs or quack substitutes such as "Fermento"
are recommended. As mentioned above, fermentation adds
a taste element that simply can not be duplicated any
other way. Furthermore, the lactic acid produced by
the fermentation provides the sausage with an additional
weapon against spoilage. Cured sausage without this
step is like beer without alcohol.
to modern times, sausages were hung up to cure and with
luck, the appropriate lactic acid producing bacteria
would happen along and colonise the sausage and produce
the needed fermentation. Unfortunately, as in winemaking,
trusting to luck often produces unpleasant surprises.
to the popular literature, the fermentation step is
no more complicated than adding yeast to bread. In fact
the culture is sold in foil packages just like yeast
and stored in a freezer. It is inexpensive to begin
with and only 1/8 tsp. is required for a 2kg batch.
use, the culture is mixed with a little water and sugar
and then mixed in (along with the spices) with the meat
mixture. After stuffing, the sausage is held at around
32ºC overnight for the fermentation to take place. This
can be done in a smoker, oven with just the light on
or just take a little longer at room temperature. The
sausage is then smoked, cooked or dried according to
the recipe. There simply is no excuse for not fermenting
if the type of sausage calls for it and that is just
about all sausage except fresh.
the spices and brine add the majority of the flavours
when making sausages, the smoke is what makes it stand
out from the rest of the stuff you can consume. It used
to be part of the preservation effort, before refrigeration.
Now it is used primarily as a flavour. Commercial entities
often add preservatives of a chemical nature to the
meat, usually add some liquid smoke, steam cook it and
sell it to you as a "smoked product".
the cloud of smoke there are minuscule droplets of chemicals
(natural chemicals that is) such as carbolic acids,
ketoses, phenols and others that condense out on the
meat surface. Some of these will be absorbed into the
meat the same way salt works its way into the meat when
brined, others just stay on the surface and add that
smoky flavour we all love. The chemicals also prevent
the formation of bacteria and other micro organisms
that cause the food decay. They also work with the salt
and the cure to prevent the fat from turning rancid.
sausages (fresh and dry) are smoked just to add flavour,
not to dry out the meat. Ensure that the surface is
dry (this applies to meat, fish and sausages) before
placing in the smoker or the smoke will not condense
out evenly on the surface of the product. Smoke fresh
sausages to a deep dark mahogany colour then be sure
to refrigerate, remember this is for flavour only. For
dry sausages, smoke to get the flavour you want, not
to exceed about 90ºor so, then continue the drying
process with cool air just like the recipes call for.
Soak or not to soak? Chips, chunks or logs? Soaking
for an hour before use restricts the airflow and a much
more mellow flavour is obtained. With to much air, or
not pre-soaked, a much stronger, bitter flavour can
result. Soaking and style of wood used should be left
to personal preference.
come in all shapes and sizes and are not difficult to
make. There are many sources on the web for information
on them. You should get one that's capable of fermenting
at 32ºC, smoking at 71ºC and cook at 142ºC which are
the basic numbers needed for most sausage and ham.
the actual process . . . sausages are basically a minced
meat, fish, seafood or vegetable put into a casing.
The mince may be purchased from a butcher, but is best
when done by oneself. Many food processors these days
have a mincer attachment and they all operate on the
same principal; an auger pushes the meat into a rotating
blade that chops the meat as it forces it through the
stationary output plate. The size of the holes in the
plate determine the coarseness of the minced meat. They
can range from 4mm to 13mm and the meat can be run through
several times for a very fine mince. Your processor
may even have a sausage stuffer attachment….who knows
have a look, pull out that manual and see what all those
tools that are sat in the drawer are for!
sausage making process can be broken down into 4 main
great tip, is that you must keep your meat as cold as
possible throughout the sausage making process. Before
and after each step of the process refrigerate the meat
and keep it as stiff as possible without actually freezing
it. When mincing (grinding) the meat, if you use warm
or soft meat, it tends to be mashed through the mincing
(grinding) plates, turn mushy and lose all of the juice
in the meat. You will also notice that once meat has
been minced, there is far more surface area for bacteria
to develop, which is another good reason to keep it
the sausage meat
sure you cut your meat to fit the size of your mincer
‘funnel’, then refrigerate the meat.
the (previously sterilised) mincer/grinder, equipment
and dishes for the minced meat set-up on your cleaned
the largest holed mincing plate, take the meat out
of the refrigerator and mince, working as quickly
the minced meat and return to the refrigerator or
freezer, to chill down again.
the process until it is minced/ground to the required
texture is obtained. It is always best to mince/grind
the meat initially twice through the largest holed
plate and then gradually work down to the finest (if
you want a fine mince/ground meat).
of spices and flavourings to the sausages
are two different methods of adding spices to the
sausage: Tossing the cut meat in the seasoning and
allowing to marinate in the chiller before mincing/grinding.
This way when you mince (grind) the meat the spices
are evenly distributed throughout the meat. If using
this method it is best to add the spices to the cut
meat the night before mincing; this allows more of
the flavours to work their way into the meat.
can be done with the sausage stuffer attachment on your
food processor or with a piping bag. The latter needing
a little skill and patience.
a sausage stuffer attachment
flushing the casings keep them in a bowl of warm water
next to the sausage stuffer. The warm water keeps
the casing lubricated when you feed it onto the stuffing
the stuffing horn that is best suited to the thickness
of the casing you are using. Find the end of a casing
and slip this over the end of the stuffing horn.
the casing over the stuffing horn towards the sausage
stuffer, so that it forms an accordion-like pleat.
the casing wet throughout this process or it will
not slide back on the stuffing horn very easily. Leave
some of the casing hanging over the horn.
stuffing the sausage meat into the casing. You will
need to regulate the flow of sausage into the casing,
which will determine how tightly packed the sausage
is. If you try and pack the sausage too tightly the
casing will burst. If the casing does burst, tie it
off at that point and start again. To regulate the
flow of sausage hold the casing on the stuffing horn
with your thumb and forefinger. Increasing or decreasing
finger pressure on the casing will determine how tightly
and consistently the sausage is packed.
the sausage comes out of the stuffing horn, you can
tie the ends at regular intervals or make links by
twisting the sausage. Certain sausages like Boerewors
are made in one continuous piece, which is then coiled
for storage and is cooked as a whole coil.
a piping bag
flushing the casings keep them in a bowl of warm water
next to you. The warm water keeps the casing lubricated
when you feed it onto the stuffing horn.
a piping tube that is best suited to the thickness
of the casing you are using. Find the end of a casing
and slip this over the end of the piping tube, push
the casing over the piping tube towards the bag, so
that it forms an accordion-like pleat.
the casing wet throughout this process (keep dipping
your hands in warm water.
pressure to the piping bag with one hand, stuff the
a sausage is formed, make links by twisting the sausage
and then pipe again.
the flow of sausage into the casing, by applying different
amounts of pressure to the piping bag. This will determine
how tightly packed the sausage is, if you try and
pack the sausage too tightly the casing will burst.
If the casing does burst, tie it off at that point
and start again.
stuffing the sausage into the casings, hang the sausage.
This allows the casings to dry properly as well as gives
the flavours in the sausage time to develop. Cover a
broom handle with aluminium foil and straddle between
two chairs. Hang the fresh sausage over the broom handle
until the casings are dry. Make sure that the sausage
stays cool or bacteria will develop. If the sausage
has a lot of liquid it will drip from the casings as
they dry, so you may want to put something down on the
floor to catch the drippings.
article has been written specially for Hub-UK
by Tallyrand to celebrate our twelve months of producing
the web site together and to champion the great British
sausage - anyone who has not enjoyed British 'bangers'
has not eaten the real thing!
Hub-UK : firstname.lastname@example.org