Common Meat-Borne Diseases – Refrigeration
Continuing our series on Sausage making
Recipes: Garlic sausage, Biscuits ‘n’ gravy.
We apologize in advance, because there’s a lot of sausage making material here. Bear with us. You’ll need to know it, so plunge in. You will be rewarded with healthy, safe to eat sausage, and that’s well worth the little bit of extra time you’ll spend reading. (Plus, it’ll hurt Chuckwagon’s feelings if you don’t.)
The USDA has issued guidelines on refrigerating foods. A good general summary can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/shared/PDF/Refrigeration_and_Food_Safety.pdf , which in part says
There are two completely different families of bacteria: pathogenic bacteria, the kind that cause foodborne illness, and spoilage bacteria, the kind of bacteria that cause foods to deteriorate and develop unpleasant odors, tastes, and textures.
Pathogenic bacteria can grow rapidly in the “Danger Zone,” the temperature range between 40 and 140 °F, but they do not generally affect the taste, smell, or appearance of a food. In other words, one cannot tell that a pathogen is present
Spoilage bacteria can grow at low temperatures, such as in the refrigerator. Eventually they cause food to develop off or bad tastes and smells. Most people would not choose to eat spoiled food, but if they did, they probably would not get sick. It comes down to an issue of quality versus safety:
Food that has been left too long on the counter may be dangerous to eat, but could look fine.
- Food that has been stored too long in the refrigerator or freezer may be of lessened quality, but most likely would not make anyone sick. (However, some bacteria such as Listeria monocytogenes thrive at cold temperatures, and if present, will multiply in the refrigerator over time and could cause illness.)
Safe Refrigerator Temperature
Refrigerators should be set to maintain a temperature of 40 °F or below….
Keeping the Refrigerator Clean
One very important step in keeping your food safe is keeping your refrigerator clean. Wipe up spills immediately — clean surfaces thoroughly with hot, soapy water; then rinse.
Once a week, make it a habit to throw out perishable foods that should no longer be eaten. A general rule of thumb for refrigerator storage for cooked leftovers is 4 days; raw poultry and ground meats, 1 to 2 days. Refer to the cold storage chart for storage of meat, poultry, and egg products in the home refrigerator.
To keep the refrigerator smelling fresh and help eliminate odors, place an opened box of baking soda on a shelf. Avoid using solvent cleaning agents, abrasives, and all cleansers that may impart a chemical taste to food or ice cubes, or cause damage to the interior finish of your refrigerator. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions….
If food has spoiled in a refrigerator — such as during a power outage — and odors from the food remain, they can be difficult to remove. The following procedures may have to be repeated.
- Wipe inside of unit with equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar provides acid which destroys mildew.
- Wash inside of unit with a solution of baking soda and water. Be sure to scrub the gaskets, shelves, sides, and door. Allow to air out several days. Remove paper and clean with vinegar and water.
- Stuff unit with rolled newspapers. Close the door and leave for several days.
- Sprinkle fresh coffee grounds or baking soda loosely in the bottom of the unit, or place them in an open container.
- Place a cotton swab soaked with vanilla inside freezer. Close door for 24 hours. Check for odors.
- Use a commercial product available at hardware and housewares stores. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions.
We recommend limiting storage of fresh sausage to 2 to 3 days. Sausages may be frozen for up to 2 months without harm, but should be protected with proper packaging. Some packaging, such as vacuum packing in heavier sealed plastic pouches or bags, will keep foods safe for considerably longer. See guidelines from manufacturers such as FoodSaver.
How Long Can You Refrigerate…?
Here’s a thread (conversation) from a post of several years back in another website and galaxy far, far away.
Quote: How long will a cooked smoked sausage last in the fridge?
CW: Certainly simply cooking the sausage extends its life somewhat as many microorganisms are destroyed by heat. The destruction of spoilage bacteria such as brochotrix thermophacta allow the sausage to be safely stored refrigerated for a week or more without drastic deterioration in flavor or texture. However, like any food in nature, your sausage begins to decompose and putresce the minute it is made. We simply safely preserve it the best we are able for a relatively unspecific amount of time. Of course, each sausage will have its own rate of degradation and long before it becomes inedible for safety reasons, it will surrender its flavor and texture.
Quote: What about cooked fermented sausages?
CW: Fermented type sausages when air-dried below Aw 0.85 have two things going for it and lasts much longer. First, a culture of lactic acid-producing beneficial bacteria render pathogenic bacteria harmless. Next, as the sausage dries, the moisture no longer nourishes pathogenic bacteria and it becomes safe to eat even without having been cooked. Air-dried sausages may be safely stored for months, depending upon the type of sausage and how much moisture was left behind.
Quote: How long is too long to dry/shrink down for semi dry type sausages?
CW: Depends upon where it is drying and the thickness of the sausage. In a moist storage chamber? In a refrigerator “crisper”? On the countertop? All have different moisture levels in the air (relative humidity). Kabanosy in half-inch collagen casings take about 5 days on a countertop. However, this is not the safest place to dry your sausage. In a paper bag in the refrigerator is fine but might take a week or more until it firms up inside. Vacuum packed, it will not continue to dry. It will remain moist until opened. Dry it first (to about 70% yield), then vacuum pack it.
Quote: I’ve stored some in paper bags and some I vacuum packed. Also I made some venison pepperoni and stored it in paper bags. Prob 1 inch in diameter. I left it in the fridge at about 42 degrees and 70 down to 50% humidity for about 6 1/2 to 7 weeks…. I actually forgot about it. Took it out today and it had the prettiest dark red color. It was somewhat hard but uniform throughout. I sliced some thin and the taste was amazing. Totally different than when I first smoked it. I had fermented and then smoked to an internal temp of 158.
CW: Now you know what “semi-dry cured” sausage tastes like. This is a terrific method for making Landjaeger Sausage. Hope this helps pal. Rattle my chain if you still have questions. I don’t have all the answers, but I DO make a hellofa sourdough biscuit!
Best Wishes, Chuckwagon
Quote: “Of course, each sausage will have its own rate of degradation and long before it becomes inedible for safety reasons, it will surrender its flavor and texture.”
CW, same question, but please answer for someone with a head like a goat ….I have been wanting to ask the same question. So if you can stomach the semi-dry cured sausage left in the icebox it is safe to eat? Sometimes I like it really dry and slice thin and often wondered at what point would the sausage make me sick (or a test subject). Thanks, Steve.
CW: Steve, that’s a great question. The answer is yes, it is safe to eat as far as pathogenic bacteria “curing” is concerned. However, there are other “spoilage bacteria” issues. Eventually, other microorganisms will begin to compromise and degrade the meat. However, even though a spoilage bacterium may make you sick, it will rarely kill you.
Think of the “hurdles” as they are called. The first thing we must consider in pork sausage is any possibility of Trichinella Spiralis in the meat. This is a parasitic roundworm whose larval form may be present in the flesh of pork or wild game and its painful infection is known as trichinosis. It is not a bacteria and it’s not a mold with toxic spores. Nor is it a fungi. It’s a microscopic danged worm that is miserable when it penetrates the gut and gets into muscle. The medications mebendazole or albendazole may be used to treat infections in the intestines, although once the larvae have invaded the muscles, there is no specific treatment for trichinosis and the cysts remain viable for years. How do we protect ourselves from infection of trichinae? By cooking the meat to a safe temperature. Trichinella Spiralis in meat is destroyed at 137°F. Steve, if you don’t know much about the infection or how to destroy the organism, please click on this link http://wedlinydomowe.pl/en/viewtopic.php?t=4808 and read my article about Trichinella Spiralis.
One more thing about this nasty worm. Remember, once the larvae have invaded the muscles, there is no specific treatment for trichinosis, and the cysts remain viable for years. Now, why would anyone take a chance by “fudging” on the rules. Here’s my point…You would be surprised at just how many people believe that simple freezing will destroy trichinella spiralis. Actually, the majority of people believe it, and that frightens me. I often think of the folks who shoot wild pigs or javelinas and think simply freezing the carcass will take care of trichinella spiralis. It absolutely will not! In fact, The Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, at Massachusetts General Hospital has concluded that “Smoking, salting, or drying meat are not reliable methods of killing the organism that causes this infection”. Further, “Only freezing at subzero temperatures (Fahrenheit) for 3 to 4 weeks will kill the organism”. If folks ever gazed into a microscope and saw the round nematode worm embedded far into human muscle tissue, they would surely think twice about proper sub-zero temperatures. However, most people do not have the means of freezing meat at these cryogenic temperatures – thus, they take the chance.
The next “hurdle” deals with the killer bacterium called Clostridium Botulinum. It is a pathogenic bacterium and although it is relatively uncommon, it is deadly. Sodium nitrite is a salt and an anti-oxidant used to cure meats, serving a vital public health function as it blocks the growth of Clostridium Botulinum and helps to prevent spoilage. Nitrite also gives cured meats their characteristic color and flavor. In addition, USDA sponsored research indicates that nitrite can help prevent the growth of Listeria monocytogenes, an environmental bacterium that can cause illness in some at-risk populations. In cured-smoked-cooked sausage, the addition of sodium nitrite acts immediately and cures meat in a very short period of time. However, in air-dried sausages, sodium nitrite’s chemical cousin (sodium nitrate) is used as it breaks down over a period of time into “nitrite” and finally nitric oxide – the actual curing agent.
Another way to destroy the bacteria it is to dry up its source of available water. (Aw) When a sausage is dried to Aw 0.85 or lower, it is considered safe to eat although the meat may not have even been cooked. Now, you are probably wondering how we make salami from raw, uncooked pork without the threat of Trichinella spiralis. The answer is we must use “certified” pork – meat that has been deeply frozen below zero for a specified period of time.
Finally, we may use acidity to help destroy pathogenic bacteria. In preserving sausage, we simply introduce a lactic acid-producing bacteria such as lactobacillus or pediococcus. Bacteria cannot tolerate acidic environments. Of course, acidity affects flavor and the addition of an acid is not just a simple solution for every type of meat. Yet, without lactic acid – producing bacteria, we wouldn’t have wonderful, tangy, fermented type sausage.
Best Wishes, Chuckwagon
More (sigh) of Chuckwagon’s Musings: (see also the notes from the 2015 “Project B” files, part 7)
This is the part where most folks say, “Yeah, yeah… we already know about that”, but perhaps you should give this topic just one more consideration before moving on. Why? …because your sausage or meat product may be responsible for injuring yourself or someone else if it’s not properly made. Each year in the United States alone, food borne diseases cause approximately 76 million illnesses and 325,000 hospitalizations. Of this number, more than 5,000 Americans painfully suffer the clearly evident indications and symptoms of preventable food contamination, breathe their last breath, and agonizingly die! Food-borne illness is caused by three contaminants:
- microbiological organisms – bacteria, parasites, etc.
- chemicals accidentally introduced into foods – pesticides, fungicides, fumigants, cleaning fluids, etc.
- physical objects – metal shavings, glass fragments etc.
What can you do to keep from becoming a statistic? Learn all you can about food contamination and observe the rules. I’d even go so far as to suggest taking a “certification class” for food handlers. Foodservice sanitation classes are offered at technical schools everywhere. Sometimes “certification” can be accomplished in just a matter of hours and days. These classes are fun and a good way to meet other people. In any event, please maintain a high standard of personal hygiene while making sausage. Wear a hair net or cap and for goodness sakes, wash those hands every chance you get – with bacterial soap. Keep your equipment clean and sanitary. Always store food items in correct containers at proper temperatures. Cool down prep-cooked sausage quickly for storage and protect them from vermin and insects.
The Major Causes Of Food Poisoning
Pathogenic Bacteria. Sausage makers and food handlers , must be aware of the strains of (a.) food spoilage bacteria, (b.) pathogenic bacteria, and (c.) beneficial bacteria. Millions of microbes may be found on unwashed hands and dirty utensils and under the right conditions, multiply at an alarmingly incredible rate. Of the three microorganisms affecting food (bacteria, yeasts, and molds), pathogenic bacteria, existing virtually everywhere in our environment, remain the greatest cause of food poisoning. As sausage makers, we must constantly be aware of the primary factors necessary for bacterial growth. We must also know how to change any dangerous circumstances immediately. Bacteria need merely four elements for growth:
- moisture- Did you ever imagine that meat is comprised of three-quarters water? If we freeze the water in meat, we give it temporary defense against bacteria by “binding” the moisture. Moisture is the primary reason meat spoils. Will dehydrating meat preserve it? We’ve been doing just that for thousands of years!
- nutrient- Meat, (mammalian muscle) consists of roughly 75% water, 19 % protein, 2.5% fat, 1.2% carbohydrates, and 2.3% non-protein substances such as amino acids and minerals. Exposed to the atmosphere, meat becomes a virtual feast for bacteria.
- warm temperature- Bacteria thrive at body-temperature! Called the “danger zone”, the range from 40°F. (4°C.) to 140°F. (60°C.) is the optimum temperature periphery for bacteria to multiply. It is interesting to note that bacteria are restricted from growing at 130°F. (54°C.) but actually start to die at 140°F. (60°C.).
- lack of oxygen- Aerobic bacteria need oxygen; anaerobic bacteria do not. Certain pathogenic bacteria in sausage being smoked certainly present a risk. Casings also cut off a certain volume of oxygen as does the “overnight curing” covered with plastic wrap inside a refrigerator. Remember the first rule of sausage making: Don’t smoke it if you can’t cure it! (meaning the use of actual cures of sodium nitrate or sodium nitrite).
Bacteria have been named mostly in Latin or Greek, for their shape. Spherical bacteria are called cocci. Rod-shaped bacteria are known as bacilli. Curved bacilli (resembling a comma), are called vibrio. If they are spiral-shaped, the are called spirilla, and if the bacilli is tightly coiled, it is called spirochaetes. Many bacteria exist simply as single cells. If they are found in pairs, they are neisseria. The streptococcus form chains while the staphylococcus group together in clusters resembling grapes.
If a specific bacterium is facultative anaerobic, it is most active in oxygen but can survive without it. On the other hand, an obligate anaerobe cannot grow in the presence of oxygen. Bacteria do not grow in size – they multiply in number. And they do it very quickly! Without oxygen, the addition of sodium nitrates or sodium nitrites is necessary to prevent botulism. (Ed.Note: fresh sausages such as we will make in this project do not contain nitrites or nitrates. Thus they must be kept cold, and cooked soon after manufacture.)
It also becomes crucial that meat be removed from the “danger zone” temperature range as quickly as possible during any preparation or cooking process. This includes grinding, mixing, and stuffing sausages, procedures often supported using ice, ice water, or refrigeration and freezing. As bacteria need moisture to multiply and meat is about three-quarters water, it becomes an ideal environment for the growth of bacteria, even when it is mostly dried. However, there is a point in which meat can lose so much “available” water, it will no longer sustain bacteria. This point differs within each particular type bacterium. We’ll talk more about this “water activity” later on, as well as another bacteria-destroying process known as potentiometric hydrogen ion concentration… or simply “pH acidity”.(Ed.Note: we will not be considering “semi-dry” and “dried” types of sausages in this project. However, be aware that these types exist, and are made possible by manipulating both pH and water activity.)
Our first line of defense against pathogenic and spoilage bacteria is the application of extreme temperatures applied to meat either being cooked or frozen. As sausage is prepared, it is essential to work with only small batches at a time outside the refrigerator. Very often, meat is partially frozen before it is put through a grinder and bacteria at this temperature remain mostly inactive. In the grinder, ice chips are sometimes added to keep the temperature down as the friction of grinding actually warms the meat. Outside of the refrigerator, most bacteria begin to wake up as the temperature rises above 40°F. (4.4°C.). At 50°F. (10°C.), it is safe to work with the meat only temporarily before it goes back into the refrigerator. Most bacteria thrive at the temperature of our bodies (98.6°F. / 36.6°C.). As temperatures rise much above the “danger zone” (40°F – 140°F), their growth becomes restricted until around 140°F. (60°C.), they begin to die. Yet, strains such as Clostridium botulinum, may survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C) by producing heat-resistant, isolating envelopes called spores – nature’s way of protecting the organism by sheltering the bacteria from other unsympathetic environmental conditions.
Clostridium Botulinum – The Killer
Clostridium Botulinum is a common obligate anaerobic bacterium microorganism found in soil and sea sediments. Although it can only reproduce in an oxygen-free environment, when it does reproduce, it produces the deadliest poison known to man – botulinum toxin. One millionth of a gram ingested means certain death – about 500,000 times more toxic than cyanide. Onset of symptoms can occur quickly and include nausea, stomach pain, double vision, and spreading paralysis, ultimately reaching the heart or respiratory organs. If treatment is given and the dose is low, half of those affected may survive, but recovery may take months or years. Although fatalities occur yearly, especially in countries where home canning is popular, the risk of acquiring botulism is very, very low. However, the lethal consequences of poisoning may make you wish to reconsider the proper addition of sodium nitrate/nitrite in your products to almost eliminate the risk. Worldwide, there are about 1000 cases of botulism each year.
The rod-shaped bacterium was first recognized and isolated in 1896 following the poisoning of several people who had consumed bad ham. It was later discovered that due to the enzyme superoxide dismutase, the bacterium might actually tolerate very small traces of oxygen. Botulinum spores are extremely persistent and will survive heating up to 250°F. (121°C), freezing, smoking, and drying. Insidiously, they lie in wait for the right conditions to occur and give no foul smell or taste, making it even more treacherous.
In non-cooked fermented sausages, the microorganism must be destroyed using a combination of salt, a drop beyond 5.0 pH, and a minimum drop in Aw water activity to 0.97 or less. Placing fresh vegetables or un-sterilized (garden fresh) spices into sausage is not recommended as botulinum spores are not uncommon on leafy herbs, peppers, beans, chilies, and corn. Cut off from oxygen by being stuffed into casings and placed in a smoker, the smoking temperatures are ideal for bacteria growth. The risk using fresh garlic is less, but cases of botulism poisoning have been reported after people have eaten home-canned garlic cloves in oil – the ideal environment for anaerobic bacterial growth!
As we began making our sausage project, we made a “loose sausage” without physically manipulating the sausage, thus preventing proteins from developing to make the sausage particles stick together or “bind”. Lots of folks like this type of sausage in gravy over a biscuit for breakfast. The English “sage” sausage is ideal for this loose-type meat. Another favorite is good ol’ garlic sausage. We’ll see this below.
NEXT… as we start on another fresh-meat sausage, we’ll develop the proteins by manually mixing the meat until sticky peaks are seen when the meat is pulled apart. We’ll also see what adding a bit of salt does to these proteins. This is how we develop “binding” properties and it is the reason we mix hamburger meat, tossing it with our hands, before forming a patty to fry. The actin and myocin proteins “bind” the meat particles. You’ll be amazed at the difference between these two projects. You’ll also understand a little more about the quality of binding. As we delve further into the subject, we’ll even add an outside binder of powdered milk or soy protein concentrate. Until a sausage maker understands the “primary bind”, his “cured-cooked-smoked” sausages will never be quite right and the texture of his brats and franks will suffer – along with his reputation!
In order to bind meat in a sausage having a proper texture, it must be mixed well until it actually becomes sticky. Ground meat just naturally does not combine well until proteins are developed – myosin in particular – as it sticks to itself. As mechanical agitation develops myosin, a desired sticky “meat paste” forms, known as the “primary bind”. In making sausage, it is just as important not to over-develop myosin, as the texture may become too mushy and fine-grained. It’s best to mix sausage meat just past the “sticky” stage where “peaks” develop. Depending upon the particular sausage recipe, the “primary bind” may require a bit of help, Many people use non-fat milk powder as a binder in sausage but most do not realize they should look for “dairy fine” milk powder from a supplier, as grocery stores do not carry the superfine textured milk powder required in good sausage. The product actually resembles cornstarch in texture.
Another favorite binder is soy protein concentrate. It not only helps bind meat together, it helps meat retain its natural juices, and prevents shrinkage during cooking. Soy protein concentrate contains 250% more protein than meat! It has one shortcoming only – when used in fresh sausage, the meat becomes a little more difficult to “sear” or brown while cooking. In a cooked patty, it gives the meat a greasy appearance although it tastes just fine. However, adding a little powdered dextrose or corn syrup solids (contributing their own flavors as well) usually help brown the meat. In the United States, both non-fat milk powder and soy protein concentrate are limited by the USDA, to 3.5% in commercial sausage. Corn syrup solids also provide binding quality in sausages that are cured at lower temperatures. Powdered dextrose is another favorite additive in sausage. It is simply glucose made from cornstarch, but is only 70% sweet as sugar. Its lower molecular weight readily forces itself into the cells of the meat for complete distribution.
Time Out for Some Science (courtesy of Wikipedia)
Fructose, or fruit sugar, is a simple ketonic monosaccharide found in many plants, where it is often bonded to glucose to form the disaccharide sucrose. It is one of the three dietary monosaccharides, along with glucose and galactose, that are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion…. Pure, dry fructose is a very sweet, white, odorless, crystalline solid and is the most water-soluble of all the sugars. Fructose is found in honey, tree and vine fruits, flowers, berries, and most root vegetables.
Commercially, fructose is frequently derived from sugar cane, sugar beets, and corn. Crystalline fructose is the monosaccharide, dried, ground, and of high purity. High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is a mixture of glucose and fructose as monosaccharides. Sucrose is a compound with one molecule of glucose covalently linked to one molecule of fructose. All forms of fructose, including fruits and juices, are commonly added to foods and drinks for palatability and taste enhancement, and for browning of some foods, such as baked goods.
Sucrose is a disaccharide, composed of two linked simple sugars. All carbohydrates that you consume from foods are digested into monosaccharides before they are absorbed by your body. Sucrose is rapidly broken down into individual glucose and fructose molecules. Sucrose is often extracted and refined from either cane or beet sugar for human consumption. Modern industrial sugar refinement processes often involve bleaching and crystallization, producing a white, odorless, crystalline powder with a sweet taste of pure sucrose, devoid of vitamins and minerals. This refined form of sucrose is commonly referred to as table sugar or just sugar.
Corn syrup is a food syrup which is made from the starch of maize (called corn in some countries) and contains varying amounts of maltose and higher oligosaccharides, depending on the grade. Corn syrup, also known as glucose syrup to confectioners, is used in foods to soften texture, add volume, prevent crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor. Corn syrup is distinct from high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is manufactured from corn syrup by converting a large proportion of its glucose into fructose using the enzyme D-xylose isomerase, thus producing a sweeter compound due to higher levels of fructose.
Back to the Narrative
Please note all these products are natural and are used in most commercial sausage kitchens today. Don’t be hesitant to use them in sausage making as they are completely safe in recommended amounts and contain no additives, preservatives, or foreign chemicals. However, as with any other substance, there are limits set for their use and common sense should prevail.
We’ve covered a lot of material! For more reading, please refer to an earlier piece, one of Chuckwagon’s better scribblin’s, buried somewhere inside http://sausageswest.com/sausage-making-sausage-recipes-sausage-making-hobbyists/not-sausage-making-home-page-close/forum-website-contents/%cf%89-project-b-%cf%89/project-b-2015-introduction/1-project-b-2015-startup/5-project-b-2015-reading/ You may want to have a look at it. The ol’ Chuckster has some pretty good words of wisdom in there, seein’ as how he has one o’ them fancy degrees in meat science, grew up on a ranch, and seems to know more about this stuff than anybody around here. He covers some pretty important stuff in that document, including
- Proteins & Amino Acids
- Mix/Cure/Stuff/Grades of Meat
- Casing & Stuffing
…some of which are beyond the scope of this introductory introduction. Have a look when you feel so inclined. Meanwhile, we’ll continue our “broad brush” with some of Chuckwagon’s writings.
Types of Sausage
Basically, there are only four groups of sausages when they are classified according to curing options:
The name Fresh Sausage simply means that the meat has not been cured (treated with an actual curing agent) and must be refrigerated and eaten within three days, or frozen for later use. Just about everyone has some experience making their own “fresh” sausage even if it has just been adding a little ground pork to some ground beef, including a few spices, mixing it together until it becomes “sticky” and then forming it into a patty and cooking your “sausage” burger on a griddle or grill.
Add all the seasonings you may, stuff it inside casings, or mold it into patties, but remember without a sodium nitrite cure and possible prep cooking, it must be refrigerated and used up within 72 hours or frozen. With a little sausage savvy and some practice stuffing the meat into casings, you’ll be making the famous English “breakfast” sausage containing pork and sage in no time at all. As you learn to “link” sausages, you’ll enjoy making all your favorites including fresh Italian sweet-hot links, German brats, Mexican chorizo, and kielbasa – the well-known Polish sausage. Note that “fresh” sausage is never smoked (without cure being added).
As we begin making our first project, we’ll make a “loose sausage” without physically manipulating the sausage, thus preventing proteins from developing to make the sausage particles stick together or “bind”. Lots of folks like this type of sausage in gravy over a biscuit for breakfast. The English “sage” sausage is ideal for this loose-type meat. Another favorite is good ol’ garlic sausage.
THEN… as we start on our second fresh-meat sausage, we’ll develop the proteins by manually mixing the meat until sticky peaks are seen when the meat is pulled apart. We’ll also see what adding a bit of salt does to these proteins. This is how we develop “binding” properties and it is the reason we mix hamburger meat, tossing it with our hands, before forming a patty to fry. The actin and myocin proteins “bind” the meat particles. You’ll be amazed at the difference between these two sausages. You’ll also understand a little more about the quality of binding. As we delve further into the subject, we’ll even add an outside binder of powdered milk or soy protein concentrate.
Cured, Cooked, And Smoked Sausage (not covered in this project)
This sausage is cured with an actual chemical cure, (most often Prague Powder #1, also called “Cure #1” containing sodium nitrite) to destroy clostridium botulinum and other pathogens. Whenever meat is placed inside casings, oxygen is cut off, just as it is whenever oxygen is replaced by smoke inside a smokehouse. Following drying, they are partially or fully cooked, depending upon the type of sausage, while being simultaneously smoked if desired, to destroy possible trichinella spiralis and retain moisture.
Prep-cooked or “par-cooked”, the sausages are usually refrigerated and then finished on the grill or in a pan when convenient. These are the famous Bratwurst, Bockwurst, Knockwurst, and emulsified sausages known as hot dogs or “wieners”. Also included in the emulsified category are bierwurst, Vienna sausage, and bologna. Cooked Italian mortadella, cooked salami, Mexican chorizo, Chinese “lop chong”, Cajun boudin (blood) sausages and andouille garlic sausages, smoked Polish kielbasa, and German Berliner, are a few other popular favorites.
Semi-Dry Cured Sausage (not covered in this project)
Slice it with your pocketknife and eat it “as is” while you fish your favorite spot along the river, or present it on cold, fancy plates at a party. Fermented, semi-dry sausages are easily recognized by their tangy flavor and are popular everywhere in the world.
You’ve probably purchased it at the grocery store as semi-dry-cured summer sausage, or perhaps semi-dry cured pepperoni or salami. Semi-dry cured sausage contains sodium nitrite found in Prague Powder #1 (also known as Instacure #1) to destroy any possible clostridium botulinum. A process called fermentation provides its “tangy” flavor before the sausage is finally cooked during preparation to destroy any possible trichinella spiralis, yet this type sausage is not usually cooked before it is served or eaten; it’s simply sliced and eaten having been further dried and cured. There are exceptions of course, pepperoni being the most widely-used air-dried sausage cooked atop everyone’s favorite pizzas.
Semi-dry cured sausage starts out much like the cured-cooked-smoked sausage but may be further dried to enhance its keeping qualities simply by dehydrating it to a point less than AW.85, achieving a moisture loss up to 30% of its original weight. Special precautions must be taken to keep this sausage from drying either too quickly or too slowly. If the casings harden prematurely, moisture may not or cannot escape properly, producing a hardened gray ring around red meat. On the other hand, if the sausage dries too quickly, undesirable molds may develop. Semi-dry cured sausage would not be possible without the existence of beneficial bacteria; more about that later on.
Dry Cured Sausage (not covered in this project)
Fermented, air-dried sausage is not cooked during its preparation, and is not usually cooked before serving or eating. This is the only type sausage safe to eat without having been refrigerated and it is always made with Cure #2 (pink salt), containing nitrates as well as nitrites. Having these unique traits requires unique precautions, equipment, and knowledge in making sausage in this category, especially whenever using pork, as the destruction of possible trichinae becomes vital.
Enough, already. Let’s have some…
Boot Jack’s Barbed Wire Breakfast Sausage – or – Goodness Gracious Garlic Sausage – and – Biscuits and Gravy
Click on the recipe links below, select one or the other sausage recipe, and print it out (plus the “Biscuits and Gravy” recipe. …or, if you’re not a biscuit fan, make both sausage recipes, if you want, so you can compare them.
Print out each of the recipes you plan to make, so you’ll have a copy in your kitchen. Go shopping and pick up the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget FRESH spices. Make sure you have batteries for your camera. (…maybe some chocolate, too.) Next, follow the instructions and make some sausage. Keep it refrigerated. Ask questions. Take pictures. Have some fun. Keep a notebook and write down what you learned.
Here’s a good, basic, garlic breakfast sausage: 2.2 lbs. (1 kg. )Boot Jack’s Barbed Wire Breakfast Sausage by Chuckwagon, found at http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Boot-Jack-Barbed-Wire-Bangers.pdf
Optional: Folks who prefer just a bit more garlic in the mixture may enjoy Goodness Gracious Garlic Sausage by Chuckwagon, at this link: http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Fresh-Garlic-Sage-Sausage.pdf
When you have made the breakfast sausage, try your hand at “Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy.” As we noted earlier, instead of mixing your sausage until the primary bind is developed, don’t mix it that much. Crumble it, as suggested in the “biscuits and gravy” recipe below.
Note the places for you to measure out a volume of an ingredient, then weigh it. (You didn’t think we’d give you EVERYthing, now, did you?) Let us suggest that you start a page in your notebook where you record the bulk densities of all your ingredients, so you can do your own conversions in later recipes. As it turns out, most people west of the North Atlantic are illiterate when it comes to using weights instead of volumes, especially English-to-Metric conversions, and don’t know how to…(AAWK! Hey! Don’t knock me off my soap box, CW, and don’t hit me again! Just because most idiots don’t… WHAM!)
Boot Jack’s Barbed Wire Breakfast Sausage by Chuckwagon
………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe
- 3 lbs. pork butt (ground) …………………………………..1 lb.
- 2 lbs. beef chuck (ground) ………………………………..2/3 lb. (make a burger with the rest?)
- 2 tblspns. un-iodized salt (______gm)……………..2 tspns (______gm)
- 2 tspns. rubbed sage (______gm).……………………2/3 tspn (______gm)
- 1 tspn. white pepper (ground) (______gm)…..….1/3 tspn (______gm)
- ½ tspn. ground ginger (______gm)..………………….1/4 (sparse) tspn (______gm)
- ½ tspn. mace (______gm).………………………………..1/4 (sparse) tspn (______gm)
- 3 oz. rusk (toasted bread crumbs) (______gm)…1 oz (______gm)
- 1 cup water (______gm).…………………………………..1/3 cup (______gm)
Chill the meat to 32 degrees then grind it through a ¼” plate. Mix all ingredients well. Some folks prefer to use pork stock in place of the water in this recipe. This breakfast sausage is traditionally stuffed into 32 m.m. hog casings. However, patties are tasty topped with a fried egg and served with a piece of toast.
Goodness Gracious Garlic Sausage by Chuckwagon
Raw garlic added to sausage is pungent and it may be a little bitter. Par-cooked or ‘barely browned’, it becomes sweetened with roasted garlic flavor. The ol’ timer knew that oil and salt are the best kept secret ingredients in protecting garlic’s flavor. For example, if one were making a garlic marinade, oil and salt would be added to garlic, as omitting either would significantly reduce the flavor of the garlic.
Why? It’s because oil protects and stabilizes allicin, the compound in garlic that’s responsible for its characteristic flavor. Allicin is produced when garlic is cut or crushed, and it quickly degrades into less flavorful compounds when exposed to air. When oil is added to comminuted meat, it coats the meat particles. However, once in oil, the allicin dissolves and is protected from air. With this protection, it freely moves into meat particles delivering full flavor.
Salt has its own trick also as it speeds up the process. Salt draws water containing allicin out of the garlic much quicker than it would on its own.
So, what is the secret? Don’t add all raw garlic to your sausage… cook most of it by poaching it just a few minutes in a little oil and salted water. When the liquid is reduced and cooled, put it into a food processor and pulverize the cooked garlic. Add the liquefied garlic mixture to the primary bind and blend it thoroughly with the meat.
………………..Grind/stuff recipe………………………………..Ground Meat recipe
- 10 lbs pork butt (ground)……………………………………..1 lb
- 1 cup fresh parsley (chopped)………………………………half of ¼ cup
- 2 tspns. freshly ground black pepper……………………1/4 (scant) tsp
- 2 tspns. rubbed sage……………………………………..………1/4 (scant) tsp
- 1 tspn. liquid smoke…………………….……….………….……1 “dash”
- 4 cloves garlic (Use instructions above)……………… ½ clove
- 90 grams salt…………………………………………………..……..9 grams
- ½ cup of water………………………………………………………120 ml
- 2 tblspns. olive oil………………………………………………….1/2 tsp plus a bit
[Place the grinder knife and a 3/8” plate into the freezer. Cut the meat into 1” cubes to keep long strands of sinew from wrapping around the auger behind the plate as the meat is ground.] Prepare the garlic, salt, oil, and water solution using the instructions above. [Grind the meat and then] Add the meat to a bowl and then mix in the garlic solution and the remaining spices. [Work with small batches, refrigerating the meat at every opportunity.] When the primary bind has developed and the meat shows peaks when pulled apart, prepare patties [stuff it into 29-30 m.m. fresh hog or lamb casings].
This sausage is perishable and must be refrigerated. Use within three days or freeze the remainder.
Biscuits n’ Gravy (Campfire Style Sausage Gravy For Biscuits)
- Biscuits (warm, split)
- 1 lb. Mild Pork Breakfast Sausage
- 1 tblspn. butter
- 6 Tbspns. Flour
- 1/2 C. Water
- 2 -1/4 C. Whole Milk (a little more if gravy is too thick)
- 3/4 tsp. Salt
- 1 tsp. Paprika
Over medium heat, crumble sausage in fry pan, add butter, and stir, cooking sausage until browned. With slotted spoon remove sausage from fry pan and reserve pan drippings. The butter and drippings should measure 1/4 cup. Add a little vegetable oil if needed. Over medium heat, add the flour one table spoon at a time and whisk while cooking. Stir constantly as flour cooks and turns light brown. When the flour has cooked, increase the heat slightly and add water slowly while stirring. When flour mixture is smooth add milk, paprika, and salt, stir until blended. Allow the gravy simmer, but not boil (will curdle the milk). When blended add sausage, mix and simmer until heated through. Pour over warm biscuits.