Introduction to Sausage Making – 1 – Cleanliness

Beginning Sausage Making

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Just about everyone enjoys good sausages- – the breakfast variety, patties or links, or hotdogs at the ballpark, or if you’re lucky, those specialty German, Polish, (your favorite variety here) sausages sold at ethnic festivals at various times of the year.  …but, would you believe, you can not only enjoy ’em any time of the year, you can make sausages that taste even better that the commercial offerings? Drop us a note (comment) in “the Hitchin’ Post” if you’re interested, so we can get organized. You’ll need to join so you can comment. It’s free!Join Us! (get login & comment privileges)

Here we go: a new “Introduction to Sausage Making” project starring yours truly, Chuckwagon, disably-assisted by el Ducko. We’ll show you the way to safely and easily make tasty sausages. The next time you’re craving a sausage and you’re in, say, Newark Airport, and you get into an argument with the Hebrew National hot dog vendor, you’ll not only have a leg to stand on, you’ll have your own home-made all-beef dawgs to look forward to when you get home. …or kielbasa. …or bratwurst.         …and chili to put on ’em. …REAL chili. (“It’s made with beef, you know,” says Texan “el Ducko.”)

Here at, we’re sausage ex-spurts. We’re not REALLY sausage experts, but we play them on the internet.  …and on that happy note, we offer the following manifesto- –

Anybody (Even a Complete Dummy) Can Make Great Tasting Sausage.

Did I mention, tasty? …tell you what- – over the next few months, let’s make some simple, tasty sausages, but let’s make ‘em two-at-a-time. That way, not only can you see how easy and tasty sausage making can be, but you can also taste multiple styles. We’ll give you some tasty recipes, sure, but we’ll also give you some tips on how to make sausages with little or no equipment.  Assuming you have a grocery store with a meat market within a couple of hours’ drive, flight, or subway ride you can buy ground pork, beef, lamb, bison, or (in South Carolina) road kill possum. No grinder needed. You can pat ’em into patties, so no stuffer needed, either. Grandma used to make her (in)famous meatballs without a cannonball mold, right? If you were born with opposable thumbs, you’ve got what it takes.

That is, assuming you have some means of refrigeration and access to soap and water.  …and don’t do like my mother-in-law did. Always keep your meats and sausages cold. One day, before a flight from San Antonio, she packed some butcher-paper-wrapped beef skirt steak (a.k.a. fajita meat or, in our family, “rubber meat”) into her roll-on suitcase without freezing it or insulating it. She left a suspicious trail of blood through Charlotte Airport. Fortunately, it was back in the pre-TSA days, and she was able to escape in an innocent-looking SUV filled with granddaughters. Today, you might not be as fortunate. …or worse, come down with one of several diseases which we will warn you about.  …or even more worser, encounter your sixth-grade English teacher, the one who warned you about which never you should end a sentence with a proposition. …or something like that, “up with which we shall not put” (with apologies to Winston Churchill). At any rate, be prepared for a few kind reminders (a.k.a. lectures) from Chuckwagon regarding safe meat handling.

So, settle in for a pleasant, meat-filled journey through our Beginning Sausage Making course. You’ll be glad you did. …of course.

Our agenda, should you choose to accept it, reviews techniques for making fresh and cooked sausages such as:

  • 1 – Introduction – Cleanliness. Recipes: sage breakfast sausage, allspice breakfast sausage
  • 2 – Common Meat-Borne Diseases – Refrigeration. Recipes: Garlic Sausage, Biscuits ‘n’ gravy.
  • 3 – Buying meats – Handling & Measurements. Recipes: commercial breakfast sausage spice mix, simple (very simple) spicy chorizo breakfast sausage
  • 4 – More Common Meat-Borne Diseases – cooking. Recipes: Italian Sausage Spaghetti sauce. Stuffed bell peppers.
  • 5 – Less Common Meat-Borne Diseases – Chuckwagon’s “32 ways to Avoid Grief” Sausage Making manifesto. Recipes: cocktail meatballs, “vegetarian” chili
  • 6 – Taking It to the Next Level – Handy Hardware Options That You Can Do Without For Now, But… [Grinders, Stuffers, Mixers, Weigh Scales, Smokers]. Recipes: Picadillo, party cheese+sausage dip
  • 7 – Faking It to the Next Level – Tricks with Plastic Bags & Vacuum Sealers (casing-less sausage-shaped sausages, patty partial freezing). Recipes: Bronsonville Jots,  Chuckwagon’s “Hip Shot” Hamburgers
  • 8 – Classic Sausages (Yup, There’s a Way, But…) Recipes: (Liquid) “Smoked” Andouille for Cajun Recipes, Kielbasa with Liquid Smoke Instead of Nitrite
  • 9 – Things You May Want to Avoid When Making Sausages – Food Processors, Chopping by Hand, Mixer Attachments, Funnels, Fresh (non-sterile) Ingredients. Recipes: Pork & Apple Sausage (Somerset Sausage) – Pork and Herb, Tomato, Leek, etc Sausages
  • 10 – Challenges – Seafood and Other Perishables. Recipes: smoked Rocky Mountain trout, variations on seafood sausage recipes
  • 11 – Let’s Play Chicken – Chicken and Turkey Sausages. Recipes: Turkey or Chicken Sausage, Turkey and Sun-Dried Tomato Sausage
  • 12 – Exotica – Special Precautions – Lamb, Bison, Venison, etc. Recipes: Loukanikos (lamb with feta cheese), Gyros
  • 13 – It’s Not Just For Breakfast Anymore – Sausage in Other Dishes. Recipe: Jambalaya

These are subject to change, of course, so we’d better begin before… ( you know…) they change.

It ain’t just next to godliness anymore. Nosirree. Ignore cleanliness and you’ll meet your god far sooner than you suspected. …and you’ll take those who partake with you along with you. Food-borne illnesses can not only be messy, they can be fatal, so don’t risk it. We’ll talk briefly about several steps you can take to minimize the risk of food-borne problems, including but not limited to:

  • Contamination- – equipment and raw material preparation, handling, processing, storage.
  • Spoilage: before, during, and following preparation

It goes without saying, so we’ll say it anyway- – wash your hands! Here’s another one, though- – wear gloves! You can purchase disposable gloves at most grocery stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies. If you happen to have smaller than average or larger-than-average hands, there are a number of medical supply firms in most major cities which stock all sizes in several materials. If you have a sensitivity to latex, ask your pharmacist or supply house people for a recommendation. Try the nitrile gloves- – they had good luck with them, says el Ducko, back in his American Red Cross phlebotomist days.

Wash your equipment thoroughly. See that neat stack of bowls, up on your kitchen shelf? What effective catchers of dust, dirt, and mildew they are, especially when turned right-side-up like most people store them. If you are going to use bowls, run ‘em through the dishwasher or, as a minimum, wash them by hand in hot, soapy water. Then, for heaven’s sake, don’t wipe them dry with a dish towel or a sponge. You wouldn’t BELIEVE what critters reside in those things! Turn them out on a drain board and allow them to dry, if you must. …or use them when a little bit damp. …no problem.

Anything that might come in contact with your sausage- – knives, mixing paddles, spoons, containers… make sure that it’s washed with soap and hot water. Waxed paper, plastic wrap, foil and the like are generally pretty safe, but… when it doubt, wash it with hot water and soap.

How safe are ground meats? Next time you get a chance, go hang out in a supermarket where you can see the butchers at work. …especially early or late in the day. You’ll note that they wash dang near everything in hot water with soap. They wear hair nets on their scalps (and beards, if they have ‘em). They wear gloves. They wash equipment multiple times a day, and thoroughly wash it at the end of their shift. It’s a wonder than meat slicers work at all, given such frequent goings-over that they get.

Which brings up a point: contamination is rarely found inside whole muscle meats. On the outside, though, it’s a different matter. You can practice the best cleanliness possible, yet still contaminate. The problem: for our sausages, we use ground meat, so-called comminuted meat (see , for example, FAO [Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations] documents such as (their highlighting) )

Fresh processed meat products – Definition

These products are meat mixes composed of comminuted muscle meat … with varying quantities of animal fat. Products are salted only, curing is not practiced. Non-meat ingredients are added in smaller quantities for improvement of flavour and binding, in low-cost versions larger quantities are added for volume extension. All meat and non-meat ingredients are added fresh (raw). Heat treatment (frying, cooking) is applied immediately prior to consumption to make the products palatable. If the fresh meat mixes are filled in casings, they are defined as sausages (e.g. frying sausages). If other portioning is customary, the products are known as patties, kebab, etc. Convenience products, such as chicken nuggets … have a similar processing technology and can also be included in this group. In contrast to the rest of the group, chicken nuggets etc. are already fried in oil at the manufacturing stage during the last step of production.

Comminuted meats, what we would call ground meats, are thoroughly ground and mixed, so any contamination on the outside becomes dispersed throughout the mince. Thus it is important to make and keep the handling and grinding equipment (and the handlers, too) as clean as possible.

We’re cheating a bit, here, using ground meat available from your friendly local butcher. If you decide to invest in a grinder, keep it scrupulously clean. While buying ground meat, though, either get the butcher to grind it for you as you wait, or check the label to see when it was ground. If the label has only a “sell buy” or similar label, ask the butcher what the policy is on determining that date. You can then tell if it’s been sitting there, its contaminants slowly “doing their thing,” for very long.

Opt for “fresh.” Insist on it. You’ll be able to taste the difference in most cases. Your gut will be able to tell the difference if it’s less than fresh.

Okay- – time to scare you. (Seatbelts, everyone!) The Consumer Reports people often do investigations of common everyday items, trying to determine if products are safe or comparable in quality or priced better. Have a look at what they say about safety in beef production. E. Coli, anyone?

Those graphs are a real eye-opener, aren’t they? I suspect that, if you ruled out everything that Consumer Reports found fault with, you would be living somewhere where there were no other people near, food grew on trees, it never got cold at night or hot during the day, and there were no mosquitoes or poison ivy or guns. Unfortunately, the Garden of Eden is no longer operable, and Camelot…

Spoilage Alert! First, do the best that you can, okay, starting with cleanliness. It’s fundamental. And then, for those of you who like spoiler alerts, keep it cold, too. Partially frozen is good. If it’s approaching 40 degF/4 degC, stick it in the refrigerator or, better yet, the freezer, for a bit. Don’t let your masterpiece get warm, or bad things will happen. Bacteria multiply like mad, and the bad ones are, indeed, mad. …at YOU!

Here’s a great way to cook and eat your sausage. beginning sausage making

Take about 2 ounces or 50 grams of sausage, mash it up while frying it, then add two eggs. Scramble.

Alternately, you can form patties and fry. You can also roll them into cylinders and pretend that they are links.


Sage Breakfast Sausage, Allspice Breakfast Sausage

Here are two recipes to get you started. These are simple “fresh” type sausage without cure being added. They must be refrigerated and consumed within three days, or frozen for use later. Chances are that most American markets will sell ground pork in one pound or multiples of a pound, so we have scaled the recipes “for your computational convenience.”

One is a fairly mild, traditional sage breakfast sausage that we featured in a beginning sausage making project back in 2012. Link: Marianski’s Breakfast Sausage The other dates back to the pirate days of Port Royal, Jamaica, and was provided by our ol’ friend Gus Klekner. It’s a tasty, fascinating alternative to our usual sage sausages. You can find this one on our website at: Link: Brooklyn Jamaican Breakfast Sausage

Breakfast Sausage by Stan Marianski
………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe

  •  pork butt… 1 kg. (2.2 lbs. )…………………………1 lb.
  • salt…………..18 gr. (1 Tblspn.)……………………..8.2 gr (1-1/3 tsp)
  • pepper…….2.0 gr. (1 tspn.)………………………..0.9 gr ( ½ tspn.)
  • sage…………2.0 gr. (2 tspn.) ………………………..0.9 gr (1 tspn.)
  • nutmeg……0.5 gr. (1/4 tspn.) …………………….0.22 gr (1/8 tspn)
  • ginger………0.5 gr. (2/3 tspn.) …………………….0.22 gr (1/3 tspn)
  • thyme ……..1.0 gr. (1 tspn.) ……………………..45 gr ( ½ tsp)
  • cayenne…..0.5 gr. (1/4 tspn.) …………………….0.22 gr (1/8 tspn)
  • cold water 100 gr. (3/8 cup)………………………..45 gr (3 Tblsp)

Ground Meat Directions: Typical store-ground pork grind (as opposed to coarse grind) is fine. Mix meat with all ingredients, including water. Form into patties.
Grinding/Stuffing Directions: Grind meat with ¼” (5-6 mm) plate. Mix meat with all ingredients, including water. Stuff into 22-26 mm sheep casings. (If using hog casings, use 28-30 mm). Tie into 4” links.
Both: Cook before serving – recommended for frying (links can be grilled).

“Brooklyn’s Jamaican Breakfast Sausage” Recipe (by Graybeard)
………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe

  •  pork butt… 1 kg. (2.2 lbs. )…………………………1 lb.
  • salt…………..20 gr. (1.1 Tblspn.)……….………..9.1 gr (1-½ tspn)
  • pepper…….2.0 gr. (1 tspn.)………………………..0.9 gr ( ½ tspn.)
  • allspice 1.5gr. ( ¾ tspn)……………………………..0.68 gm ( heaping ¼ tspn)
  • cardamom 1gr. ( ½ tspn)……………………………0.45 gm ( ¼ tspn
  • coriander 1gr. ( ½ tspn)……………………………..0.45 gm ( ¼ tspn)
  • thyme ……..1.0 gr. (¾ tspn.) ……………………0.45 gr ( 1/3 tsp)
  • cold water 100 gr. (3/8 cup)………………………..45.0 gr (3 Tblsp)

“This recipe comes from a little girl named Brooklyn from Jamaica that just made it out of Port Royal in 1692 right before the big earthquake hit. She was picked up by a bunch of pirates and forced to cook for them on their voyages all over the Caribbean. She finely escaped from them after many years and made it to Florida. Now in some way out of the place areas down there still serve it to this day. When I was down there I was lucky enough to get the recipe for it.”

Ground Meat Directions: Typical store-ground pork grind (as opposed to coarse grind) is fine. Mix meat with all ingredients, including water. Form into patties.
Grinding Directions: Grind meat with ¼” (5-6 mm) plate. Mix meat with all ingredients, including water. Form into patties.
Both: Cook before serving – recommended for frying.

2 thoughts on “Introduction to Sausage Making – 1 – Cleanliness

  1. Our “Introduction to Sausage Making” Project is now open for comments. Click on agenda item #1, “Introduction – Cleanliness” on the Project Listings page. First two featured recipes: “Sage Breakfast Sausage” and “Allspice Breakfast Sausage.” Even if you’re no beginner, you’ll enjoy the fresh sausage recipes in the series.
    Duk 😀

  2. All sections of “Introduction to Sausage Making” are now published and available for your use. Check out the recipes! You can certainly stuff these sausages if you want to, but you can also make any of them by using ground meat from the grocery store without using a grinder, stuffer, or other expensive equipment. See the “Sausage Project Listing” for links.

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