The Misleading Reading Proceeding
The Secret Of Sausage Making Is Knowledge!
Read, Read, Read!
Yeeee Hawwww….! It’s High Noon… time to get started with Project B. Now draw in a deep breath and let’s hear a real Yee Haw from YOU! Go ahead… do it. Everyone’s waiting on you. Don’t be embarrassed. Just yell yeee hawww like a real cowboy. It’s traditional, you know! We just can’t begin until we hear you yell. Yeeee Hawwww! There now, don’t you feel better? Okay, before we get our hands into the ground meat, we must read a little. First is a lesson about binding. Please read the information below and we’ll have a discussion. Be sure to find the “Check Yourself Up” for Unit 1.
You may wish to supplement your reading by also reading,“Home Production Of Quality Meats And Sausages”… by Stan and Adam Marianski. For those of you wishing to know how well you understand the material, I’ll post a series of True of False questions for each topic in the quiz section. The answers will be given at the bottom of the page as we progress and you’ll have to check your own score. We will not compare or discuss scores, but you should ask questions about the ones you miss. The questions are there only for you to evaluate your own understanding. If you miss a question, why not discuss the topic with the group online?
Quick links to the topics on this page:
- — Why We Make Our Own Sausage
- — Chuckwagon’s 32 Sausage Making Tips To Save You Grief
- — Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 1 – How To Start Making Your Own Sausages
- — Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 2 – Proteins And Amino Acids
- — Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 3 – Mixing/Curing/Stuffing, Grades of Meat
- — Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 4 – Additives Used In Sausage
- — Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 5 – Casing and Stuffing
No Spurs In My Kitchen!
I fondly remember my ol’ friend Tony, the little ol’ Italian sausage maker. He was a short little old man, had short little old legs, and he resembled Charlie Chaplin in a video on fast-forward. Tony wore the same bleached-out, purple tee-shirt daily with a smile that exposed his only upper incisor hanging over his lower lip and the man talked faster and louder than an apologetic evangelist.
The old card cheatin’ curmudgeon loved garlic and hated soap… and I always thought he, even at age seventy, should have played basketball. With those stumpy legs and other … uh…”qualities” he could have cleared the defensive court by simply breathing hard or just by standing near the “foul” line.
The old pepperoni squeezer gave away as much sausage as he sold by taking visitors into his vast, underground, hand-dug, smokehouse and having hacked off a chunk of “cured” salami with his broken Boker pocketknife, he wiped it’s blade on a pant leg before folding it away. Nevertheless, people flocked to his underground smokehouse for his grandfather’s “old country” recipe he kept completely secret, not even revealing it fully to his own wife.
Tony thought preservatives were for “wimps” and his special friends were treated to a small, paper, 3-ounce, Dixie-cup of home-brewed, hearty burgundy which would effectively peel the enamel from one’s teeth and I was always careful not to smoke or light a match around the stuff. Five ounces of “the red” would give a man a complete attitude adjustment or lap the valves on a ’57 Chev! And Tony would sip it, declaring it “good for the bowel and bladder”!
Why We Make Our Own Sausage
As a youngster, I remember the first supermarket opening years ago in our area, complete with its own butcher counter. My best pal, Bad Bob, and I just had to set aside the time to join the crowd at the grand opening and soon found a “citified-dude” with shifty eyes, a pencil-thin mustache and a huge smile behind the counter. The man had a tongue that would effectively fertilize five lower pastures and, excluding me, he was probably the greatest “bull shipper” in North America. Now, don’t misunderstand me; he was a great guy and everybody liked him. The man had a thunderous voice, a notorious smile, and size 16 handmade boots, so we called him “Sasquatch” – you know… Big Foot! I don’t believe he ever used a telephone; he just yelled up the street, and I believe many of his customers went into his shop just to get a look at his feet. Most of his customers seemed to return to purchase more of his… uh…“sausage”, although I’m not sure I should actually use that term to describe his product. Sasquatch added the maximum amount of fat allowed by law to his fresh sausage and enough salt to melt the ice on interstate 70 in January! It was also full of starch, artificial coloring, and spices that had been on the store’s shelves much too long – especially black pepper that had long since lost its flavor. Alas, the man’s sausage prices were higher than his 6’ 6” frame and his hot Italian recipe peeled paint, so Bad Bob and I continued to make our own ranch sausage as usual. It wasn’t long before we found that the secret in making the best sausages was not what we put in them as much as it was how we made them. Using a 55-gallon drum to smoke our creations, we followed M.I.D. (Meat Inspection Division of the United States Department Of Agriculture) instructions to the letter. Soon we were making our own first-rate sausages having less salt and less fat than any store bought variety, and best of all, we were saving a small fortune. People in the area knew we made better homemade sausages than they could purchase in the supermarket, and they often asked for our secrets – the hard earned knowledge gleaned only by experience. We gladly shared our techniques and recipes whereby we created our premium sausages, hams, and bacons. Although we did not sell our sausage, we gave away more than we consumed ourselves. Shucks pards, with a bit of sausage sense and safety savvy, you may create superb ranch sausages, hams, and bacon as well!
Commercial sausage has always been made with one principal objective – profit! With higher profits being an invariable issue, large companies have learned every trick in the book! Large producers do not use genuine paprika because food coloring is cheaper. No dried spices are used, since extracts are cheaper. To add weight, they often add starch to absorb water. Unfortunately, commercial sausage makers often use citric acid in fermented sausages instead of allowing the slow development of lactic acid bacteria, because proper fermentation takes time, and time means money. Although there is nothing at all wrong with today’s collagen and artificial casings, commercial suppliers use them almost exclusively since natural casings are expensive and impractical to use in automated, consistent-volume processing.
Since small, home-sausage making kitchens are non-commercial, there is no need for hobbyists to save a few cents on cutbacks. Always use the best cuts of meat and choice fat. Generally, pork shoulder and fatback are the choices of the hobbyist or small processor – not odds and ends of different cuts. Better sausages than those found in the marketplace do not have to be unavoidably expensive and the effort does not need to drain your bank account. If your finances are limited, be aware that an initial investment in a few specific hand-tools (grinder and stuffer) will save you money in the end. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using a 50-gallon barrel or an old refrigerator for your smoker. I’ve even seen a few made from old filing cabinets or even cardboard boxes. You may also locate used equipment perfectly capable of producing great sausage. And better yet, using perfected skills, you’ll save a mountain of cash making your family’s hams, bacons, sausages, salami, pepperoni, jerky, and any number of other meat products. On the other hand, you may choose to simply purchase a professional, insulated, smoker with all the latest gadgets and tricks. Meat curing and smoking guidelines are simple and very much worth the effort for placing just the right finishing touches on your own exquisite, custom-made creations. Soon, you’ll even develop your own special time-saving techniques as well.
All sausages contain relatively high amounts of salt and fat. There are no practical alternatives. If sausage is going to be palatable, it must contain at least 20% to 30% fat and about 1.5% or even 2% salt. Generally, about 2 grams of salt in 100 grams of meat is just about right. Sausages containing more than 3.5% salt are too salty to consume and it seems as though many commercial producers certainly push this limit. In dry cured sausage, the amount of salt is increased as it helps protect uncooked meat from pathogenic and spoilage bacteria and other microorganisms. Nonetheless, you simply do not have to purchase someone else’s recipes jam-packed with the stuff.
In the United States, fresh pork sausages may contain up to 50% fat (30% in beef sausages), and large companies seem to push this limit also. Cook up a batch of store-bought breakfast sausage and take a hard look at the grease left in the pan to see what I mean. Why consume 50% fat in a store-bought sausage, when you can make a healthier and better-tasting product yourself containing half that amount? Following USDA guidelines and employing proven strategies and knowledge, adjusting your own levels of salt, fat, and spiciness in a leaner and better quality sausage than you may purchase, just makes good sense. For their own protection, many people with heart problems or high blood pressure do just that, creating their own special recipes. Actually the procedure is totally safe, a lot of fun, and not as complicated as you may believe, providing you follow the rules precisely and understand why you are doing what you are doing. Destroying and preventing the bugs inside meat is not rocket science and practicing a few basic safety procedures does not require a college degree. Nevertheless, it does require a little common sense. Almost everyone eats sausage. Why not make your own? It’s healthy, economical, and lots of fun.
Chuckwagon’s 32 Sausage Making Tips To Save You Grief
1. Always use good meat to make good sausage. If you toss junky meat into the hopper, you’ll have junky sausage to contend with. Good Boston Butt (pork shoulder) is the first choice for sausage making. Incidentally, have you ever wondered why pork shoulder is called “Boston butt”? Meat cutters in the eighteenth century seaport Boston, Massachusetts, packed cuts of pork shoulder into wooden casks called “butts” to be placed aboard ships… which brings up the question, “ Do folks in Boston know their shoulders from their butts?
2. The meat MUST be kept as cold as possible throughout the entire mincing, mixing, and stuffing process. I cannot stress this point enough as is it will inhibit bacterial growth. Place the grinder blade and plate into the freezer 20 minutes ahead of time. If the plate and knife heat up, it can affect the mixture in all sorts of ways. Don’t be afraid to add a little softened crushed ice chips now and then, but nevertry to grind hard-frozen ice cubes with your grinder.
3. Work with small batches of meat at a time and never miss an opportunity to refrigerate the meat at any time during the process.
4. Always cut the meat into chunks about an inch in size before they go into the grinder. This prevents long strands of sinew from wrapping around the auger, binding it down. When this happens, the meat is usually pushed through the die and is torn rather than being cleanly incised.
5. Freeze fat before putting it into the grinder to prevent “smearing”. Meat should be nearly frozen to prevent “mushing”.
6. Freezing ruptures meat cells as ice crystals expand. When the meat is thawed, it exudes a mixture of proteins, minerals, blood, water, collagen, and other meat juices we view as simply blood. This liquid – called “exudate” – should be saved and added back to the sausage. Quick freezing produces less rupturing of meat cells.
7. Avoid using beef fat in sausage as well as the fat of wild game. Beef fat is yellow and the taste is inferior to that of pork fat. Also, avoid the fat of sheep or goats unless specified in a particular ethnic sausage.8. The most important reason for not stuffing casings as the meat leaves the grinder, is that minced meat needs to develop myocin and actin, (proteins) that makes a sticky “meat paste”. This is done either by hand or by using a mixer, but must be done in order to have proper texture in sausage called the “primary bind”. An investment in a vertical, geared, stuffer will keep you sane and made short work of stuffing casings.
9. The texture of sausage may be improved by freezing the fat then cutting it into larger dice by hand, rather than passing it through a grinder. The frozen fat is then folded gently by hand, into the primary bind. Other specific recipes may call for fat cut into smaller particles than the meat.
10. Sausage must contain salt for a variety of reasons. Never reduce the amount of salt in a sausage recipe without professional advice. How much salt is needed in sausage? About 2% in fresh type sausage or 2 grams per 100 grams of meat. However, 2% used in fresh sausage, is simply not high enough for safety in a fermented “dry-cured” sausage requiring up to 3%. Dry-cured sausages without starter cultures (called “traditional” sausage), require even more… anywhere from 3 to 3.5%. Four to five per cent salt is unpalatable.
11. Follow recipe directions precisely. Observe established rules in method, procedure, and technique. You cannot make your own rules in sausagemaking and expect them to work. In other words, you cannot “fudge” on established, time-honored, and proven sausagemaking regulations. The inexorable rules in place in the sausagemaking world today are the summation of knowledge throughout centuries of world history. Most people who substitute ingredients, alter the technique, or alter the recipe, have a disaster for an end product, and nearly all of these people will blame the recipe.
12. Good sausage contains 20 to 25% fat. Fat lubricates the meat and gives it flavor. It also serves as a binder and although the content may be lowered, without it, a sausage’s texture becomes almost unpalatable.
13. Make sure the grinder blade is not on backwards. It must be pressed up against the plate with just a little pressure. You should be able to adjust the pressure as you detect just the slightest bit of resistance on the machine.
14. Never attempt to sharpen the flat side (plate side) of the blade. The contact surfaces must remain flat within a few thousandths of an inch. (Think of the two “flat contact sides” of a scissors. A cutler never touches them. He does however, grind the adjacent beveled edges to sharpen them.
15. After grinding, add the cure (Pink Salt) mixed into a little water for even distribution. Mix the spices and cure into the meat and continue mixing until the myosin develops a sticky meat paste.
16. Always use sterilized (prepared) spices in sausage. Non-sterile fresh spices and herbs from your garden may contain various bacteria from the soil and can spoil a batch of sausage within hours.
17. The purchase of an electronic scale is a solid investment you’ll never regret. Use it for precisely measuring salt, cures, and ingredients of all types. These days, the battery-operated scales are accurate and inexpensive.
18. To get the last bit of sausage out of the grinder, put a slice of bread down the hopper and continue grinding until the meat has cleared the plate.
19. If you use wine in sausage, be sure it is not a fruity sweet wine, and then limit the amount used. More is not better; too much wine makes the texture crumbly because it denatures the proteins, including the very importatnt binders actin and myocin. Please use only “dry” wine. The best way to add it is using an atomizing “spritzer” to spray it in while it is very cold during the mixing step.
20. Always preheat the empty smokehouse, add the sausage, then raise the temperature gradually – only a few degrees at a time at twenty or thirty minute intervals over several hours. I have yet to meet a sausage maker who didn’t ruin his first batch by cooking it too quickly. If the fat “breaks” (melts) and grease runs out onto the bottom of the smoker, you may as well toss the batch and start again. Cooked too quickly or too much, it is impossible to salvage. And don’t feed it to your dog… he didn’t do anything to you!
21. Trichinella Spiralis is destroyed at 138°F. (59°C.). Prep-cooked sausages such as “brown n’ serve” are often cooked to the temperature of 148°F. (64°C.) for later heating to a final serving temperature of around 155°F. (68°C.). Sausages smoke-cooked to this temperature are guarded against most spoilage and pathogenic bacteria including salmonella, listeria monocytogenes, and toxoplasma – responsible for 1,500 deaths annually. However, it is critical that internal meat temperatures above 168° F. (76° C.) in “smoked-cooked sausages” be avoided as fat starts breaking (melting) at this point and will melt in pockets inside the sausage, eventually running out of the sausage. If this occurs, the sausage’s texture will invariably replicate sawdust! You may as well throw it out and start again from scratch. And don’t feed it to your dog! He deserves better. During prep-cooking, always heat and smoke sausages “low n’ slow.
22. Always use non-iodized salt in sausage making. Iodized salt leaves a metallic taste behind.
23. After grinding, add the cure (Pink Salt) – mixed into a little water or cold stock – for even distribution throughout the meat.
24. Having ground meat for sausage, we must remember the simple task of developing a “sticky meat paste” that sausage makers refer to as the “primary bind”. Cold meat (just above the freezing point) must be mixed and kneaded well enough to develop the proteins myosin and actin. As this occurs, the mass will become sticky and develop soft peaks when pulled apart. The proper development of myosin and actin is critical for good texture in the finished product, although the meat should never be overly-mixed, as this may result in the sausage becoming “rubbery” in texture.
25. It is a good idea to develop the primary bind before vinegar, tomato, or any highly acidic foods are added. In chorizo, blend in vinegar, but do not over-develop the mixture. Too much vinegar in the recipe will denature proteins and create other problems.
26. If you are making a “semi-dry cured” sausage that requires prep-cooking to an internal temperature of 150˚ F. (66˚C.), be aware that cooking in an oven with slightly lower heat, will cause a sausage to dry out more as it cooks longer.
27. If you have used vacuum sealing bags, you’ve probably experienced smashing sausages that have lost their shape. A simple solution is to place them into a deep freezer an hour before placing them into vacuum sealed plastic bags for longer storage. The quicker the meat is frozen, the smaller the ice crystals will be which will rupture meat cells affecting the texture of the sausage.
28. If your emulsified hot dogs and sausages are tough or rubbery in texture, you may be over-extracting the actomyosin myofibrillar proteins. In other words, you may be mixing the sausage a little too much, especially with the addition of salt or water. This elasticity may also be perceived as toughness or stiffness in texture. Inevitably an “insufficient amount of water” is blamed for this elasticity or toughness when the real source is over-stirring or too much agitation of the meat particles.
29. Grind fresh black pepper just before it goes into the sausage. Use a coarse “butcher’s grind” for fresher aroma and better taste. Store-bought, pre-ground pepper has lost its taste. Leave it on the shelf and grind your own peppercorns (purchased from a spice company) for great tasting sausage.
30. Collagen casings cannot be linked by twisting them. They must be tied off using string, or simply cut to length using scissors if using smaller diameter casings like those for breakfast sausages.
31. Avoid air pockets in sausages by firmly packing the meat into the stuffer using your fist. Make certain the pressure relief valve is working properly. Trapped air pockets in casings are pierced deeply with a needle in several places immediately following stuffing.
32. Moisten hardwood sawdust well ahead of burning time, and do not soak it to the point it is dripping wet. Turn the hot plate to high until smoldering begins, then turn the heat down until it only produces constant but very little smoke. Moistened wood is not as acrid. Smoke penetrates meat much faster at higher temperatures. A case in point may be a sausage perfectly smoked at 120° F (50° C) for 4 hours. The same sausage may acquire a bitter, over-smoked flavor if smoked at 250° F (120° C) for the same length of time.
Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 1
Getting Started (Reading)
How To Start Making Your Own Sausages
Commercial sausage has always been made with one principal objective – profit! With higher profits being an invariable issue, large companies have learned every trick in the book! Large producers do not use genuine paprika because food coloring is cheaper. No dried spices are used, since extracts are cheaper. To add weight, they add phosphates to absorb water. Unfortunately, commercial sausage makers often use citric acid in fermented sausages instead of allowing the slow development of lactic acid bacteria, because proper fermentation takes time, and time means money. Although there is nothing at all wrong with today’s collagen and artificial casings, commercial suppliers use them almost exclusively since traditional natural casings are expensive and impractical to use in automated, consistent-volume processing.
Since small, home-sausage making kitchens are non-commercial, there is no need for hobbyists to save a few cents on cutbacks. Always use the best cuts of meat and choice fat. This generally means pork shoulder (butt), and fatback – not odds and ends of different cuts. Better sausages than those to be found in the marketplace do not have to be unavoidably expensive and the effort does not need to drain your bank account. If your finances are limited, be aware that an initial investment in a few specific hand-tools (grinder and stuffer) will save you money in the end. There’s certainly nothing wrong with using a 50-gallon barrel or an old refrigerator for your smoker. In some instances, you may be able to locate used equipment perfectly capable of producing great sausage. Better yet, as you develop skills, you’ll save a mountain of cash making your family’s hams, bacons, sausages, salami, pepperoni, jerky, and any number of other meat products. Some folks just wish to have better meat products than they have available in their local supermarkets.
Actually the procedure is totally safe, a lot of fun, and not as complicated as you may believe, providing you follow the rules precisely and understand why you are doing what you are doing. Destroying and preventing the bugs inside meat is not rocket science and practicing a few basic safety procedures does not require a college degree. Nevertheless, it does require a little common sense.
If you wish to make dry-cured salami and you are new to sausage making, be aware that crafting an air-dried sausage takes a tablespoon of experience, a teaspoon of expertise and a couple of dashes of some special knowledge. Because it is made with raw meat, one cannot merely jump into crafting dry-cured projects without some study and basic knowledge of the specific skills required to do so.
Basically, there are only four groups of sausages when they are classified according to curing options:
1. Fresh Sausage
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 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.
2. Cured, Cooked, And Smoked Sausage
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.
All About Botulism (And Clostridium Botulinum)
The Western United States has one of the highest incidences of botulism in the United States because of soil and high altitude.
Conditions that favor botulism include a high-moisture, low-salt, low-acid environment in which food is stored without oxygen or refrigeration.
Anaerobic conditions can develop in canned foods, smoked fish, sausages and some cooked foods.
Botulism can be controlled in home-canned foods if home canners are made aware of the dangers and how to prevent it.
Four classifications are being used currently in the United States to discuss botulism in humans. These are
(1) food-borne botulism, caused by consuming food containing botulinal toxin
(2) infant botulism, caused by production of botulinal toxin after germination and growth of the spores within the infant’s intestines;
(3) wound botulism, resulting from germination and growth ofClostridium botulinum within a wound; and
(4) undetermined botulism, occurring in persons older than 12 months, in which no food or wound is implicated.
The majority of reported cases of botulism have traditionally been food-borne in nature. In recent years around 30 cases per year have been reported.
Infant botulism was first recognized in 1976. Currently, around 100 cases are reported each year. The age range has been 22 days to 14 months.
Although the possibility of wound botulism was recognized as early as 1920, no actual cases were reported until 1943. Since the 1980s, the incidence has steadily increased, mostly among injection-drug users.
The Botulism Organism
There currently are seven known types of Clostridium botulinum bacteria. These differ in such characteristics as proteolytic activity, tolerance to salt and reduced water activity, minimum growth temperature and resistance to destruction by heat.
The proteolytic type A, B and F strains produce very heat-resistant spores which are a major concern in the processing of low-acid foods. These types digest proteins in foods and produce a foul odor that may warn Consumers of spoilage.
The nonproteolytic type B, E and F strains can grow at refrigerated temperatures, but produce spores of very low heat resistance. These types cause problems primarily in pasteurized or unheated foods. Because they are nonproteolytic, no off-odor or evidence of spoilage may be produced with toxin development.
Type C strains cause botulism in birds, turtles, cattle, sheep and horses. Type D is associated with forage poisoning of cattle and sheep in Australia and South Africa. No outbreaks of type G have been reported; however, type G has been isolated in cases of sudden and unexpected death in humans.
Inactive Clostridium botulinum spores are found in soil and water throughout the world. In the spore form, these bacteria are relatively harmless. The problem occurs when the spores germinate into vegetative or actively growing cells. As the vegetative cells grow they become overpopulated and begin to die. As they do, they produce the deadly neurotoxin that causes botulism.
Type A toxin is more lethal than types B and E. The toxin is a protein which can be inactivated by heating at 180 degrees F for 10 minutes. The toxin can be absorbed into the blood stream through the respiratory mucous membranes as well as through the wall of the stomach and intestine.
Several conditions must be present for the germination and growth of Clostridium botulinum spores. Acid level is a primary factor. Acidity is measured on a pH scale of 0 to 14, with 7 considered neutral, 0 to 7 acidic and 7 to 14 alkaline. A pH near 7 or neutral favors the growth of Clostridium botulinum, while growth is inhibited at a pH of 4.6 or lower. The pH of a food also has an influence on the amount of heat necessary to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum. The higher the pH (lower the acid level), the greater the amount of heat needed to kill the spores.
A second important factor affecting the growth and toxin production of Clostridium botulinum is temperature. Proteolytic types grow between temperatures of 55 and 122 degrees F, with most rapid growth occurring at 95 degrees F. Nonproteolytic types grow between 38 and 113 degrees F, with an optimum for growth and toxin production at about 86 degrees F. For these types, refrigeration above 38 degrees F may not be a complete safeguard against botulism.
Another important condition affecting the growth of Clostridium botulinum is the present of oxygen. These organisms can’t grow if air or free oxygen is present in their microenvironment (the area immediately next to them). This area is so small that it is not readily observed. Therefore, it is possible to have conditions develop in a food system or wound whereby it appears that lots of air is available, but in reality there are areas where no air is present and anaerobic organisms, such as Clostridium botulinum, can develop. Anaerobic conditions develop when food is canned. If the food is not heated enough to kill the spores of Clostridium botulinum, the spores will germinate and grow during subsequent storage of the food.
Canning is not the only condition in the manufacture and preservation of foods in which anaerobic conditions can develop. Smoked fish can develop anaerobic conditions in the visceral cavity and under the skin. The interior of sausage also may become anaerobic during the preservation process. Anaerobic conditions capable of supporting the growth of C. botulinum also have developed in such foods as chopped garlic in oil, foil-wrapped baked potatoes, sauteed onions, turkey loaves, meat stews and pot pies left at room temperature or in a warming oven overnight. In these cases the original baking killed competing organisms and eliminated much of the oxygen in the micro-environment under the crust, foil or buttery coating. Subsequent storage at warm temperatures created an ideal environment for the germination and growth of botulinum spores. For these types of foods, growth of Clostridium botulinum is inhibited by storage at a low temperature (below 38 degrees F) and/or the use of a preservative, such as sodium nitrite.
Food-borne botulism was first identified in Europe during the 1800s as a problem in sausages. The sausages probably were slightly preserved with salt and smoke. Refrigeration was nonexistent or dependent on seasons of the year. Because of the great problem with sausages, the disease was named botulism after the Latin word for sausage, botulus.
In the 1900s, refrigeration practices improved and sausages no longer caused a major problem with botulism. However, at this same time, the technology and containers for canning became available. Almost immediately, botulism became a problem in canned foods. By 1926, most of the problems in the commercial canning industry had been solved. Since that time, most of the outbreaks of food-borne botulism in the United States have been caused by improperly home-canned foods, mostly fish and vegetables, such as string beans, corn, beets, spinach, asparagus and chili peppers.
Although low-acid vegetables and fish have been the chief culprits, tomatoes, tomato-based mixtures and such fruits as figs, apricots, pears, peaches, applesauce, persimmons and mangoes also have been involved. In some of these cases inadequate processing permitted the growth of molds, yeasts or bacteria, which in turn raised the pH of the food sufficiently to permit the growth of C. botulinum.
In some of these cases, molds or bacteria grew due to poor processing and reduced acidity. In others, reduced acidity may have been due to differences in variety or in the degree of ripeness, pointing up the fact that overripe tomatoes and fruits should not be selected for home canning. With fruits, the syrup added before processing does not become acidic until acid diffuses out of the food. This may take some time if the fruit is not heated (processed) enough.
Colorado and other states in the West have higher per capita rates of food-borne botulism than other parts fo the United States. One contributing factor is that the soil in the western United States from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean contains a particularly high count of Type A Clostridium botulinum spores, the type of spores that produce the toxin most dangerous to humans.
A second factor is the higher altitude. The temperature of boiling water decreases as the altitude increases. Thus, the temperature at which foods are processed is lower. To compensate, the canning pressure for low-acid foods must be increased by 1/2 pound for every 1,000 feet rise in elevation. For example, at 5,000 feet vegetables must be pressure canned at 12-1/2 pounds pressure per square inch rather than the usual 10 pounds recommended in canning instructions designed for sea level canning. Forgetting to make these changes leads to underprocessing and an increased risk of botulism.
Unlike food-borne botulism, which is caused by ingestion of pre-formed botulinal toxin, infant botulism is presumed to be caused by ingestion of viable spores that later grow and produce toxin in susceptible infants, mostly under 6 to 8 months of age. Because C. botulinum spores are found in the soil everywhere, the probability of ingesting the spores from Garden soil, dust in the air, and such sources as vacuum cleaner dust is quite high. The only food item thus far associated with cases of infant botulism has been honey, although the possibility exists for contamination with the spores from any raw or unprocessed food, especially if it has not been carefully washed.
Symptoms of food-borne botulism usually appear within 18 to 36hours after the contaminated food is eaten, but the time can vary from six hours to 10 days. The most significant symptoms are blurred double vision and difficulty in swallowing and speaking. Fever is absent early in the disease.
For some types of the disease, early symptoms may be gastrointestinal in nature (nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, constipation, cramps, headache, fullness) and lead to a false diagnosis of appendicitis, bowel obstruction or heart attack.
Symptoms of infant botulism include constipation, followed by general weakness, feeding and swallowing problems, weak or altered cry, loss of motor tone and poor head control. The syndrome can evolve in anywhere from 6 hours to one week or more and ranges in severity from no more than minimal constipation to sudden death. In cases of the latter, infant botulism is thought to account for at least some of the reported cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Unless treatment of food-borne botulism is initiated promptly at the onset of the symptoms, death may result within three to seven days. Improved detection methods and the ready availability of antitoxins have reduced the high death rate to around 10 percent in recent years.
Most state health departments offer 24-hour assistance in diagnosing and obtaining antitoxin for treatment of botulism. In Colorado, contact the State Health Department at (303) 692-2000 weekdays or (303) 370-9395 weekends and evenings if botulism is suspected.
Treatment of food-borne botulism consists primarily of 1) removing any unabsorbed toxin in the digestive tract, 2) neutralizing the circulating toxin with an antitoxin as quickly as possible, and 3) keeping a patient breathing by a mechanical respirator (iron lung) as necessary. Recovery may take several weeks to months.
Treatment of infant botulism is somewhat different than that of food-borne botulism. Antitoxin generally is not used because of potentially hazardous side effects on young infants. Rather, comprehensive supportive care in the hospital for the course of the disease, usually three to four weeks, is the usual treatment.
Botulism can be controlled if Consumers are aware of the dangers and take steps to prevent spoilage in home-canned and home-cooked foods. Here are some important tips to remember:
• Clean foods well before cooking or processing. This reduces but does not remove all bacteria. Bacteria are still present in nearly every pint or unit of food to be cooked or canned.
• Be sure all home canning methods are up-to-date with current research-based recommendations and are properly adjusted for altitude.
• Process all home-canned meats and vegetables, with the possible exception of tomatoes, in a steam pressure canner at 240 degrees F for the time recommended in a current USDA research-based publication. At sea level, a pressure of 11 pounds per square inch (psi) is necessary to reach 240 degrees F. With each 1,000 feet rise in altitude an additional 1/2 psi is needed to achieve 240 degrees F. When using a weighted pressure gauge, the 15 pound weight must be used at all altitudes in Colorado.
• Acid foods, such as tomatoes and fruits, if properly selected and processed, do not support the growth ofClostridium botulinum and may be canned in a boiling water bath if current, research-based instructions are followed. The addition of acid in the form of lemon juice or citric acid is recommended in all tomato products canned in a boiling water bath as a precautionary measure.
• Before using home-canned food, critically examine the product and container. A bulging lid or leaking jar are signs of spoilage. When you open the jar, look for other signs of spoilage such as spurting liquid, an off odor or mold.
• As an added precaution, boil all home-canned vegetables and meats without tasting for 10 minutes plus one minute per 1,000 feet above sea level (15 minutes at 5,000 feet). Boil home-canned spinach and corn 20 minutes before tasting. If the food looks spoiled, foams or has an off odor during heating, discard it.
• Dispose of all spoiled food in a place where it will not be eaten by children or pets. One sure way to prevent the spread of toxin is to boil suspect foods 30 minutes before disposing. This will ensure destruction of any toxin that might be present and prevent its spread.
See 9.300, Bacterial food-borne illness, for more tips on avoiding food spoilage.
Given the widespread nature of C. botulinum spores in the soil, especially in the western part of the United States, complete prevention of infant botulism is probably not possible. However, measures that can reduce the incidence include avoidance of honey and protection from excessively dusty or muddy conditions among infants under 1 year of age.
• CDC. 1998. Botulism in the United States. 1899-1996: Handbook for Epidemiologists, Clinicians, and Laboratory Workers. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
• Sobel, J., Tucker, N., Sulka, A., McLaughlin, J., and Maslanka, S. 2004. Foodborne Botulism in the United States, 1990-2000. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 10:1606-1611.
• Summary of Notifiable Diseases, United States, 2000. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 49 (53) 1-100, June 14, 2002.
1Colorado State University Extension foods and nutrition specialist and professor, food science and human nutrition. 10/99. Revised 12/06.
Colorado State University, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Colorado counties cooperating. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination. No endorsement of products mentioned is intended nor is criticism implied of products not mentioned.
3. Semi-Dry Cured Sausage
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.
4. Dry Cured Sausage
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.
Choosing The Right Cuts For Sausage
I am amazed at the number of people who believe that sausage is made from odds and ends and left over scrap pieces trimmed from less desirable cuts of a cow, pig, or other animal. Worse, some believe they can add scraps of sinew, gristle, silverskin, and tendons because “it will all be ground up anyway and no one will know the difference”. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The old master, Rytek Kutas used to say, “If you use junk meat, you’ll have junk sausage”. As home-hobbyists and amateur sausage-makers, we all have choices at our disposal – whether or not to use the finest cuts and best spices, additives, and prep products in our sausages. Please use only first-class materials in your sausage to avoid disappointment. The choice will also pay off when other people judge your ability to make superior meat products.
Unless you butcher your own livestock, it is probably best to purchase untrimmed Boston butts from a reputable grocery-meat cutter or specialty meat supplier for making all around, well-balanced pork sausage containing about 25 – 30% fat. If you use beef, chuck, rump, or round, are good choices for high-quality beef sausage. Do you need fat inside a good sausage? Absolutely, but use pork fat. That’s where the flavor is! Fat also adds the creamy moisture needed for the correct “mouthfeel” and “chewability”. Add it when it is very cold or nearly frozen so it does not “smear” into the meat and smear the inside of sausage casings. The USDA limits fat to 30% although we’ve found that about 25% fat makes a pretty good product. Some specific types of sausages may require more or less fat in their recipes. For instance, the “fresh” type pork breakfast sage sausage, of which we are all so fond, may legally contain up to a whopping 50% fat legally! If you are like me, I’ll pass on that much fat packed into a sausage by a large meat corporation. I’ll make my own, thank you – with only about 20% fat.
Does pork blend well with beef? Completely! Sausage products include all sorts of ground meat, in proportions and varieties usually mixed with spices. Before carving up ten pounds of pork (two five-pound butts), you may want to prove your recipe by making only a few pounds initially. Tip: Cook and taste a small patty before adding more spice.
Here is an important point that most beginners seem to be obligated to learn for themselves for some reason: Beginners tend to use too many varieties of spices as well as excessive quantities of spice, trying to improve grandpa’s old time secret recipes, only to discover their own hodgepodge doesn’t taste anything at all as had been anticipated. Nor is there a constant flow of neighbors knocking at the door with hopes of getting their mitts on the stuff. The truth is, beginners using too much spice, or too many types of spices, trying to improve a recipe, usually toss out ten or more pounds of otherwise great pork, not to mention the loss of labor and time spent grinding and stuffing the meat. The best sausage recipes are very simple and often contain only a sprinkling of spices. Many sausage makers use only salt and pepper for seasoning. Others use only salt, pepper, and one other “signature” spice such as marjoram in Polish Sausage, fennel in Italian Sausage, sage in English Sausage, etc.
Use an ultra sharp boning knife and closely carve the flesh from the “Y” shaped bone of a pork butt. Trim the fat and reserve it. Remove the gristle, gland, blood veins, and any clots, cutting the meat into two-inch chunks for the grinder. Place the chunks inside a clean container inside a freezer for a while to firm up the meat, being careful not to freeze it solid. Use the time to weigh spices and additives, including the cures (nitrite or nitrate) mixed with water, and process them in a food processor. What do you do with the bones? Simmer ‘em of course, to make great stock for soups and stews.
As a grinder blade produces friction while rotating against its plate, it creates heat. Fat, (passing through the plate’s holes), will begin to liquefy as it approaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit, where it separates from muscle (called “smearing”) rather than achieving a good emulsion by remaining solid. As the fat cools having exited the grinder, it will solidify anew – into unappetizing, greasy, orange, clusters scattered throughout the meat! This is called “breaking” the fat, and leaves lean meat having the texture of sawdust while tasting just terrible – sort of like something I step in once in a while down at the ol’ corral. Rather than having sausage containing locked-in tasty solid fat, you’ll end up with a burger or sausage leaking orange, greasy “ninety-weight”, burnt-tasting, oil all over the place as it cooks. MMmmm…just the stuff for the crankcase in your ‘57 Chev.
Ground meat will have a better finished texture if the meat is initially prepared by cutting it into inch-and-a-half chunks, spreading them onto a sheet tray or large plate, and placing the chunks into a freezer for five or ten minutes, until they almost start to freeze. It’s also a good idea to place the grinder’s blade and plate (not the housing) into the freezer at the same time. As these parts begin to heat with use later on, keep them cooled by adding softened, crushed ice or ice-water to lubricate the meat during grinding. Never grind hard-frozen, solid ice cubes inside your meat grinder; soften them a bit in water.
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 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 weight readily forces itself into the cells of the meat for complete distribution. 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.
A. Click on and read: 1. Meat Selection and 2. Grinding
B. Complete the Self Check-Up (In the Quiz section. See CheckUp #1)
Simply click on the following links:
- meat selection – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/meat-selection
- curing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/curing
- grinding – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/grinding-meat
- mixing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/mixing-meat
- stuffing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/stuffing
- drying – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/drying
- smoking – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/smoking-meat
- cooking – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/cooking-meat
- cooling – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/cooling-meat
- storing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/storing-meat
- freezing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/freezing-meat
- thawing – http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/thawing-meat
Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 2
Proteins And Amino Acids
Have you ever wondered what meat is made of? Knowing a little about this subject just can’t help but make you a better sausage maker. First of all, meat is about 75% water! Hard to believe eh? Vitamins and minerals? Only 1% more. How about fat? It adds up to only another 3%. Sugar (glycogen)? Yes, about 1%. That leaves us with about 20% of something else. Do you know what it is? It’s protein. One of the four basic building blocks of life. If sausage makers wish to understand what meat is and how its proteins are denatured during preparation, then it only stands to reason we should discuss the basic elements of proteins and amino acids.
There are four basic building blocks of life. They are:
- Carbohydrates (sugars)
- Lipids (fats)
- Nucleic Acids ( DNA and RNA)
Your body uses the protein you eat to make particular protein molecules having specific jobs.
- EXAMPLE: For instance, your body uses protein to make hemoglobin that carries oxygen to every body part.
Other proteins are used to build muscle. When you eat foods that contain protein, digestive juices in the stomach and intestine break down the protein (in food) into amino acids that may be reused to make the proteins the body needs to maintain muscles, bones, blood, and body organs. Proteins are sometimes described as necklaces with differently shaped beads of amino acids. These amino acids can join together to make thousands of different proteins, but only 22 of them are vital to human health – and the body makes only 13 of them naturally. The remaining nine amino acids must be acquired by eating protein-rich foods and they are called “essential amino acids”.
- Proteins from animal sources are called “complete”, because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids.
- Most vegetable proteins are considered “incomplete” because they lack one or more of the essential amino acids. This is a chief concern for vegetarians and people who are lactose intolerant. But people who eat a vegetarian diet can still get all their essential amino acids by eating a wide variety of protein-rich vegetable foods.
Your body’s weight is about 15% proteins – large molecules made of hundreds of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen atoms. Broken down into smaller parts, science identifies specific “amino acids”.
3 Types of Proteins:
- Sarcoplasmic (plasma) water soluble myoglobin – belongs to this group (gives meat its color)
- Myofibrillar (contractile) salt soluble myosin and actin – belongs to this group (water-holding & emulsifying)
- Stromal (connective) relatively insoluble collagen and elastin – belong to this group (transmit movement)
There are 3 categories of meat proteins.
1. Sarcopolasmic proteins are found in intracellular fluid and compose 30% of total muscle protein. They contribute only 20% to binding ability and the isoelectric point of its molecules is low, although they do contribute to tenderization through postmortem glycolysis, effecting a pH change. Don’t be too hard on the sarcopalasmic proteins though, because they potentially add flavor contributions from a process known as “protein hydrolysis”.
Myoglobin consists of a typical amino acid protein concentration responsible for color intensity in meat. It was biologically designed to hold oxygen, and then release it for energy metabolism, so… it binds oxygen somewhat temporarily, dramatically changing meat’s color. Below are a few typical concentrations:
- poultry white muscle .05 mg/g
- chicken thigh 1.8-2.0 mg/g
- turkey thigh 2.5-3.0 mg/g
- pork, veal 1.0-3.0 mg/g
- beef 4.0-10.0 mg/g
- old beef 15.0-20.0 mg/g
- mechanically separated meat 0.08-3.0 mg/g
2. Myofibrillar proteins are called the “contractile” proteins for the way they act upon muscle e.g. rigor mortis. Myofibrillar proteins are composed of 55% myosin – generally considered the single most important because of their long, highly-charged, “filament” molecule that is present in lean muscle. Actin and myosin are primarily responsible for creating the “sticky gel” that holds mixed, comminuted meat together.
- Stromal proteins are in connective tissue and are primarily collagen, composing about 20 – 25% total body protein in the skin, sinews, tendons, etc. They are designed to transmit force to hold things together, thus they are generally tough and inert. Stromal proteins are of little or no value in processed meats as they have little binding ability. Further, as an animal ages, its meat becomes tougher due to the stromal protein’s unique make-up. Stromal protein is generally considered a problem in processed meats and “high collagen meats” are often limited to 15 – 25% maximum, although chopped, ground, powdered collagen which can be dispersed, can be useful in forming a gel when heated. They may also be useful in retaining water and fat.
Adding Cures, Spices, And Salt
All sausages contain relatively high amounts of salt and fat. There are no practical alternatives. If sausage is going to be palatable, it must contain at least 20% to 30% fat and about 1.5% or even 2% salt. Generally, about 2 grams of salt in 100 grams of meat is just about right. Sausages containing more than 3.5% salt are too salty to consume although it seems as though many commercial producers certainly push this limit. In dry-cured sausage, the amount of salt is increased as it helps protect uncooked meat from pathogenic and spoilage bacteria and other microorganisms. Nonetheless, you simply do not have to purchase someone else’s recipes jam-packed with the stuff.
Soon we’ll begin making Cured-Cooked-Smoked Sausage, and you’ll need to add 2 level teaspoons of Cure #1 (Prague Powder #1) to each 10 pounds of meat. This “pink powder” was developed by Griffith Labs. They recommend 4 ounces mixed into 100 pounds of meat. Since most modern home recipes are only about ten pounds, they recommend merely 2 level teaspoons for ten pounds of meat.
Since “Semi-Dry Cured” sausage is initially (during preparation) cooked or smoked, it also requires 2 level teaspoons of Prague Powder #1 (sodium nitrite) for each 10 pounds of meat.
Note that “Dry Cured” sausage is not cooked during preparation and usually not cooked before consumption. This is the only sausage that is safe without refrigeration. This type sausage requires Prague Powder #2 (sodium nitrate). The same volume is required (two level teaspoons per ten pounds of meat) but… it becomes vital that you use only type 2 pink salt for Dry Cured products. Your book will explain the reason for this. Also, while making hams or bacon, you will notice large amounts of pink salt specified- – much more that ordinary sausage requires. This is because the meat is injected and soaked in the brine, then most of the brine is poured off and discarded, the curing salt (nitrite) having done its job.
Whenever making any type sausage, it is most important to use only sterilized spices and only kosher (not iodized) salt. Spices or herbs from your own garden will turn rancid overnight when mixed in sausage. Thawed frozen meat is acceptable for making sausage if it is kept below 38 degrees F throughout the grinding process. Frozen meat will extract blood as it is thawed. The blood is part of the sausage making process and should be placed back into the mixture.
Let’s observe firsthand, the magic binding ability of denatured proteins. Let’s make a minimum amount of “loose meat” breakfast sausage in which the proteins are NOT modified or developed. We will note that the meat particles do not stick together as they are cooked. We are not going to physically manipulate or agitate this sausage purposely so that it will separate while cooking in a pan. When it has cooked, we’ll add it to a terrific gravy recipe for “biscuits n’ gravy”. At the same time, let’s make a kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of either sausage 1a (garlic sausage), or sausage 1b (Jamaican sausage with spice). This time, we’ll modify and denature the proteins in the meat. We’ll see a great difference in the texture between the first “loose meat” sausage and your choice of the last two sausages. I believe you’ll be amazed with the difference.
(A.) Fresh type “loose meat” sausages:
Begin by choosing the two recipes you’ll make. Click on the link and print out each recipe 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. 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. When you have made the breakfast sausage, try making the recipe below for Biscuits n’ Gravy. A photo would be nice.
(1.) 2.2 lbs. (1 kg. ) Boot Jack’s Barbed Wire Breakfast Sausage by Chuckwagon
(1a.) Note: 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
(1b.) Note: Folks who prefer to make a Jamaican sausage with a little more spice, may enjoy “Brooklyn’s Jamaican Breakfast Sausage” by Graybeard. His instructions are for a kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of pork butt and various spices at this link: http://sausageswest.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Brooklyn-Jamaican-Bkfst-Sausage.pdf
Biscuits n’ Gravy
(Campfire Style Sausage Gravy For Biscuits)
1 lb. Mild Pork Breakfast Sausage
1 tblspn. butter
6 Tbspns. Flour
1- 1/2 C. Water
2 -1/4 C. Whole Milk (little more if gravy is to 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.
Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 3 – Mixing/Curing/Stuffing, Grades of Meat
Okay all you good lookin’ sausage makers! Let’s press on. I hope you were able to see the dramatic difference between loose sausage with no binding properties and a sausage mixed, molded, and worked to produce binding proteins. When we include actin and myocin, our sausage takes on a whole new texture and composition. This is one of the “secrets” of sausage-making.
Next, let’s explore a little about mixing, curing, and stuffing by reading some information about each topic. Click on the links below and read the material. There will be another “ self checkup” with this reading in case you wish to see if you understand the process. Before you start adding an actual cure to your sausage, we want to make sure you understand not only what you are doing, but why you are doing it. Cures such as sodium nitrite must be used with caution and good sense.
Next, read more about beef and pork. Near the end of this unit (#3), I’ll post an internet interactive meat identification source from the good folks at the Unitversity Of Nebraska. It is truly a useful tool and you’ll be amazed. Right now, why not learn to “speak the lingo” and see why cowboys think calves are so doggone cute!
Rustler’s Bovine And Porcine Basics
Speakin’ The “Lingo” And “Throwin’ A Wide Loop”
Americans eat a tremendous amount of beef annually. In fact, if we lined up all the cattle Americans consume in merely one year, the line would encircle the earth 125 times! Yet, the fact remains; the bovine is one of the most inefficient animals on our planet, considering the expense of the amount of grain it requires to simply produce a pound of beef. So, why do we continue to support such an uneconomical menu item? The answer is simple… flavor! In the history of our wild-west, I suppose rustled or stolen beef always tasted better than the domestic stuff! However, if you intend to take up the life of a cattle-rustlin’ outlaw , “swingin’ a wide loop”; if you just can’t help becoming the west’s next rustler, you’d better learn how to “speak the lingo” and develop a little knowledge regarding cattle and the basics of beef.
A cow is a female of the genus “Bos” from the Bovine family Bovidae, and there is a dynamic herd of about one and one third billion worldwide! A young cow, more than one year of age, is called a heifer until she gives birth to a calf in about nine months becoming a“fresh” cow with a ten-month milk supply, later becoming a “dry” cow. A bull is the reproductive male and a steer is a neutered male.
During the late 1700’s, cross-breeders in England developed “polled” (born without horns) cows, and in the American west, the traditional Texas Longhorn was slowly replaced by English Hereford and Aberdeen Angus breeds. Ranchers found the Hereford to be a sturdy animal, able to survive extremely cold western winters. The once-popular Texas Longhorn not only grew more slowly than the English breeds, it was a leaner animal as well. Accordingly, by the 1920’s, the Longhorn had all but vanished from the range, as the marbled meat of the Angus became the preferred cut for the grill. However, at maturity, the Angus, like the Longhorn, was found to be slightly smaller than other breeds and ranchers began to crossbreed other cattle with it to produce larger offspring. Today, the meat of the Angus is very much in demand, but in the intermountain west, the Hereford, with it’s red body and white face, chest, flanks, and lower legs, is the cattleman’s favorite, being able to survive extreme weather and having more tolerance than other breeds.
Why did rustlers prefer cattle? The animal is easier to manage than hogs and sheep, making it the rustler’s choice. The bovine is simply a tediously dull animal, lacking ordinary quickness and keenness of mind, and used to provide meat. Your horse Thunderbolt, will respond to its name – your cow Bossy, will not. That’s alright buckaroos… quite often I don’t even respond to my own name!
The Three Basic Grades Of Beef
The Meat Inspection Division of the United States Department of Agriculture grades beef quality by estimating the age of the animal, the amount of fat marbling (determined by looking at the rib eye at the 12th rib), and by the texture, color, and appearance of the rib eye. U.S.D.A. “quality grading” is optional and according to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association only about 2% of all the beef carcasses produced in this country, submitted for grading, are quality-graded as “Prime”.
- Prime beef cuts are generally the most tender, flavorful, and delicious steaks and roasts and contain less meat due to a higher fat content (marbling). This grade is the most expensive beef and usually only found in meat markets – as opposed to supermarkets. Unless you butcher your own, the best cuts of beef will come from meat markets supplying restaurants and are always Prime or Choice cuts of meat.
- Choice beef is juicy and tender, producing excellent steaks and roasts. About 44% of the beef submitted for quality grading is “Choice”grade, (the next grade down from Prime), and is usually available to and selected by, shoppers in retail markets. There is nothing wrong with cuts of this grade and they will save careful shoppers money.
- Select beef is generally the most popular grade of beef containing the “average cuts” needing tenderizing occasionally. They are mostly used for grilling or in slow-cooking recipes. Usually marinated, these cuts are found in the supermarket and save the consumer even more money than by purchasing choice grade.
When beef is purchased in vacuum packages, it appears dark reddish-purple. When the package is opened, exposure to oxygen causes the meat to turn bright red, and after a few days, the surface will change to brown. Other grades of beef, sometimes found in supermarkets, are referred to as:
These are usually tough cuts and require a little talent to “render tender”, but that’s not to say they can’t be made into very tasty meals. There is no clearly cut definition of these categories and some care should be exercised when making selections. Many people don’t realize that the very best cuts of beef are not available in supermarkets, as they are sold only to restaurants and retailers. Fine restaurants often utilize a process called “aging”, a term used to describe the holding of various meats at a temperature of 34 to 36 degrees F. (1 to 2 degrees C.) for a specified period of time while tough connective tissues break down through the action of enzymes, increasing tenderness. Often, mold will develop upon a carcass (a sure sign of aging), and will simply be washed away with vinegar or cut away before the tenderized meat lying beneath, is cut, cooked, and served. And what about cuts from older steers? Quite often they end up in discount stores.
Pigs And Hogs
One billion hogs live throughout the world and about half are in China, the world’s leading producer having forty different breeds. Of these, the United States has only eight commonly raised breeds including the American Landrace, Berkshire, Chester White, Duroc, Hampshire, Poland China, Spotted, and Yorkshire – all developed in this country with the exceptions of the Berkshire and Yorkshire, imported from England during the 1800’s.
Piglets weigh only about 2-1/2 pounds at birth but double their weight in a week. Fully-grown males (boars) weigh more than five hundred pounds, and sows (females) more than four hundred and fifty. A young female that has not yet had piglets, is called a “gilt”, and a young, castrated male is known as a “barrow”. Giving birth to piglets is called “farrowing”. The time period from conception to birth is 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days, and most sows deliver 2 litters per year, each having seven to twelve piglets.
Today, hogs grow faster on less feed, produce more lean meat and less fat than those raised in the past, and actually consume about twenty percent of the corn grown in the United States. Hog producers, listening to consumers’ preferences and concerns, have dramatically changed pork since the 1980s. America’s fitness trend and a more health-concerned generation have simply demanded it. Of prime importance, improved breeding and feeding practices have all but eradicated trichinella spiralis in pork! As producers continued to upgrade the quality of pork, they have also consistently reduced the animal’s fat content by nearly forty – five per cent. The most popular selection of pork, the tenderloin, is now a whopping 42% lower in fat. Pork chops today, are a colossal sixty percent leaner than those just thirty years ago. Today’s lean pork means it plays a vital part in a healthy diet as it contains many nutrients including six essential vitamins, four important minerals, protein, and energy. Our old perception of pork is changing as consumers are beginning to realize it is a most desirable lean meat.
Although the elimination of trichinae in pork is one of the most significant improvements in the industry, not everyone is happy with the reduced fat content of the animal. Since pork fat is the secret of its flavor, traditional sausage makers are disgruntled with modern lean pork as there is simply less fat available. Most sausage makers these days must scramble to find “fat back” – the creamy, flavorful addition necessary in amounts of about ¼ the total volume of any good sausage. Many experienced fermented-sausage crafters claim the days of authentic salami flavor are now gone, while any ol’ timer will tell you how the savor and essence of the meat itself has been reduced. Pork is not “aged” as is beef, and it must be cut and wrapped within 24 hours of slaughter for best results.
Unlike beef, having three primary cuts along it’s back, the hog has but one – the loin. The fore-end of the loin is called the “shoulder cut” or “shoulder chops”, while the center cut has “rib chops”. The south end of the loin on a northbound pig contains the tenderloin and the “sirloin chops”. Shoulder cuts have a lot of fat and connective tissue and are good for roasting or braising but not especially pan-frying. Center cuts have two types of connective muscle while loin chops have one.
Check Yourself UP (Quiz – Units 2 and 3)
- T F The best sausage is made from scraps of the primal cut known as “grade one”.
- T F The best sausage is made without fat.
- T F When meat and fat are very cold, there is less chance of “smearing” as it enters the casing.
- T F Pork blends with beef very well.
- T F If you are not sure about the amount or quality of the spices or herbs used in sausage, it’s best to fry up a taste-test mini-burger.
- T F Beginners tend to use too many varieties of spices as well as excessive quantities of spice, trying to improve old time secret recipes.
- T F Even if you add too many spices, there will probably be a constant flow of neighbors knocking at your door with hopes of getting their mitts on any type of homemade sausage.
- T F Fat begins to liquefy as it approaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- T F Fat does not liquefy.
- T F Fat begins to liquefy as it approaches 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
- T F Meat may be cut into two-inch chunks before going into the grinder, or whole cuts may be just crammed into a grinder with a large “big bite” throat.
- T F It’s best to mix sausage meat just past the “sticky” stage where soft “peaks” develop.
- T F Soy protein concentrate is used as a binder in sausage.
- T F Soy protein concentrate is a curing agent.
- T F Soy protein concentrate is the same thing as powdered milk.
- T F Soy protein concentrate is limited by the USDA, to 3.5% in commercial sausage.
- T F Soy protein concentrate is an organic product.
- T F Powdered dextrose is made from cornstarch and is only 70% as sweet as sugar.
- T F Meat is made mostly of proteins.
- T F Carbohydrates are sugars and they are necessary for life.
- T F Carbohydrates should be eliminated from your diet whenever possible.
- T F Lipids are fats.
- T F Proteins from animal sources are called “complete”, because they contain all nine of the essential amino acids.
- T F Your body’s weight is only about 15% proteins
- T F Myoglobin is a sarcoplasmic, water soluble, protein responsible for color in meat.
- T F Actin and myosin are myofibrillar, salt soluble, proteins.
- T F Whenever making any type sausage, it is important to use only sterilized spices and only kosher (not iodized) salt.
- T F Thawed frozen meat is acceptable for making sausage if it is kept below 38 degrees F throughout the grinding process.
- T F Frozen meat will extract blood as it is thawed. The blood is part of the sausage making process and should be placed back into the mixture.
- T F Whenever making gravy, it is best to make a roux with some type of fat and flour. The flour must be cooked so it does not taste “raw” in gravy.
31. T T El DuckO is actually an alien astronaut from the planet Xerox who crash-landed and banged his head on a rock! This explains his unusual behavior. He should go home!
1.F 2.F 3.T 4.T 5.T 6.T 7.F 8.T 9.F 10.F 11.F 12.T 13.T 14.F 15.F 16.T 17.T 18.T 19.F 20.T 21.F 22.T 23.T 24.T 25.T 26.T 27.T 28.T 29.T 30.T 31.T
Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 4
Additives Used In Sausage
Soy Protein Concentrate And Non-Fat Dry Milk
Soy protein concentrate is not a mysterious, risky, chemical additive. It is a natural, tasteless, concentration of the soybean, in white powdered form, containing up to 250% more protein than steak. Soy protein is invaluable in the sausage making process as it causes meat to retain its juices and maintain its volume, while it serves as a binder. Slap a burger on the griddle made only from freshly ground meat and see what happens! It crumbles, shrinks, and the juices run out during cooking – while those served at your favorite local burger joint (containing soy protein concentrate), retain their juices, holding their shape and volume.
Dairy fine, non-fat dry milk accomplishes the very same tasks. Used as a binder for sausage, the granulated type found in a grocery store is not the substance to place into sausage. Powdered dry milk with the consistency of cornstarch is available from sausage making supply stores. There are limits to observe and the amount used in sausages should not exceed 3-1/2%, as higher amounts produce a mushy product with a “beany” flavor. The use of both products has only one drawback. Fresh meat won’t sear and brown nearly as well as an untreated product. As it cooks, it may appear tasteless and bland although it is not. What may we do about it? Use another natural product to hold the color of the meat inside – corn syrup solids. Powdered dextrose may also be used as a browning agent for sausage.
Corn Syrup Solids
Corn syrup, dried into solid flakes, is also used as a binder in sausage, as well as maintaining the fermentation bacteria (lactobacilli) necessary for that great tangy taste in dry-cured products. Perhaps the most important feature of corn syrup solids is the preservation of color in meat, allowing it to be browned although it may contain soy protein.
This product is used to support lactic acid organisms by assisting fermentation, producing the tangy flavor in many dry-cured sausages. Powdered dextrose is only 70% as sweet as sugar and is often used as a browning base for other types of sausage containing either soy protein concentrate or non-fat dry milk.
In the sausage making world, two specific families of lactic acid bacteria have been almost universally chosen to meet the needs of fermented type sausages. These are lactobacillus and pediococcus – both symbiotic. Each includes its own strains and depending upon the qualities desired in a specific product, more than one strain may be combined in one culture. Some do well in sausages of higher salt content, others do not. Some do better than others at higher (or lower) temperatures. The strains most beneficial (therefore most commonly used), of lactobacilli include: lactobacillus pentosus, lactobacillus curvatus, lactobacillus plantarum, lactobacillus farciminis, lactobacillus sakei, et.al. Of the pediococci, two widely used strains are pediococcus pentosaceus and pediococcus acidilactici. These are the workhorses of fermentation, thriving on sugar – dextrose ideally – as glucose (dextrose) is the most simple of all forms of sugar, being utilized quickly to produce rapid fermentation. Glucose, produced from cornstarch, is only about 70% as sweet as sucrose refined from sugar beets or sugar cane, then being combined with fructose from fruit. Lactose (called milk sugar) binds water very well but has poor fermenting quality and non-fat dry milk contains about 52% lactose. For this reason, I choose to add dextrose to fermented sausage rather than powdered milk composed of more than half lactose – the worst choice of fermenting sugars. Moreover, there are limits to be considered in using added sugar as the more that is used, the more sour or “tangy” the product will become.
Never reduce or increase the prescribed amount of salt in a sausage recipe, as measured levels help destroy trichinae, inhibit growth of other bacteria and organisms, and serve as a binder. Salt also fine-tunes certain proteins in meat enabling them to hold water. Since the development of sodium nitrite in Prague Powder, sausages usually contain less than 3% salt. Previously, preserved meat required up to 8% sodium chloride (table salt) – enough to permanently raise anybody’s blood pressure!
Fermento is a product blend of cultured whey protein and skim milk producing a quick tangy flavor in semi-dry cured sausages such as venison summer sausage, cervelat, goteborg and other summer sausages. Use one ounce per two pounds of meat, but do not exceed six pounds in 100lbs. of meat. (Five pounds of Fermento will process approximately 160 lbs. of meat.) Too much used in a sausage recipe (over 6%), will produce a mushy texture.
Fat Replacer is a product made by the Sausagemaker™ in Buffalo, New York. It is made of Konjac flour (from a plant root), xanthan gum (fermented glucose), and microcrystalline cellulose (cellulose from plants). The first two ingredients are water soluble. Microcrystalline cellulose is not. Fat Replacer simulates the “creamy” mouthfeel of fat and can be used in everything from grilled burgers to dry-cured salami. It contains almost no calories and it’s affordable. A proven cholesterol fighter, it is USDA approved. One half pound will treat 60 pounds of meat.
The Sausage Making Process
Have you ever wondered why pork shoulder is called “Boston butt”? Meat cutters in the eighteenth century seaport Boston, Massachusetts, packed cuts of pork shoulder into wooden casks called “butts” to be placed aboard ships. I wonder if the folks in Boston know their shoulders from their butts. Unless you butcher your own livestock, it is probably best to purchase untrimmed Boston butts from a reputable charcuterier, grocery-meat cutter, or specialty meat supplier for making all around well-balanced pork sausage.
Sausages are generally made following proven steps in particular sequence, varying slightly with the type of sausage being made.
1. Selection Of Meat
2. Chopping, Seasoning, & Preparation
3. Curing – Fermenting
5. Mixing & Developing The Primary Bind
7. Fermentation (if dry-cured)
Grinding, Seasoning, and Mixing
We’ve learned a little about fat content in sausage. A certain percentage of fat is necessary to add flavor, lubricating moisture, and texture. Then we learned that about 20-25% fat makes a pretty good product. Of course, specific types of sausages may require more or less fat in their recipes. There is no such thing as reduced-fat sausage. Without it, the flavor and texture will disappoint everyone. That being said, I am only able to think of one exception to the rule. Jerky is made using the very least possible fat, as it becomes rancid in the product over time. Jerky is dried – not cooked; the leaner, the better.
Remember, pork blends very well with beef. Sausage products include ground meat in all sorts of varieties and proportions usually mixed with spices. If you are a beginner, you may wish to prove your recipe by making only a few pounds of sausage before carving up ten pounds of pork butts. Always cook and taste a small patty after the mixing step before adding more spice.
Sausage evolved for one reason only – to preserve meat. Our ancestors must have been terribly disheartened following the major group effort of tracking and slaying an animal, just to lose most of the carcass to food spoilage bacteria. Early man simply knew nothing about preserving meat, but as time passed, he found that by cooking, drying, and adding salt, it took longer to spoil. The greatest discovery came when sodium nitrate and nitrite were found as natural contaminants in salt. Suddenly, preserved meat had even more advantages. For the first time, man was able to travel with a reserve of dried and salted preserved meat at his disposal. Of course, it had to be reconstituted in water and rinsed of its salt, but it was indeed preserved. As intestines were stripped of their contents and cleaned, they were filled with spiced chopped meat and the first true convenient fast food was developed. Sausages of all types became popular everywhere on earth after Roman soldiers put together their mixture of minced pork spiced with crushed pine nuts and salt. As time went by, the process became even more refined as an array of spices was added and smoking often became part of the process, especially in northern Europe. Sausages at first were named for their place of origin (and are even now to some extent); others are named for their ingredients or tagged with a specific handle in its indigenous language. Hundreds of years have passed as enhancements have been made to proven favorites and new varieties have been added. Today, having the benefit of centuries of improvements, and increasing expertise, we enjoy the finest sausages in all history.
Will you be using the “old style” hand-crank grinder (mincer) you found in Grandma’s basement? You might have to replace the plate and blade. Maybe you’ve ordered a new model from any number of sources. They haven’t changed much over many years and old-style, hand cranked machines yet remain the very best for producing a few pounds of products at a time – as long as the blades are sharp. If Granny’s old blades were just worn out and dull, rest assured you may order new ones at modest prices from any sausage supply store. Many old models may be modernized by replacing the hand-crank with a pulley and an electric motor driving the auger by simply changing the auger bushing. Investing merely a few bucks, you may install a brass bushing, gear down the speed, and save much time and labor. Not interested? If you are like me, occasionally I just have to give up my electric grinder to lay my mitts on my old-time, cast-iron crank machine. Its nostalgic and it allows time for my girlfriend and I to talk about the news of the day and enjoy each other’s company while doing something we both enjoy!
Many better electric mixers are sold with meat-grinding (mincing) attachments. Although they are smaller, require a little more time, and are definitely not for commercial use, some home hobbyists use them satisfactorily. Although there is also usually an attachment for stuffing casings with this type grinder, it is not recommended due to its exceedingly slow stuffing speed. It is best to purchase a designated vertical stuffer to save frustration. There are now quite a few companies making rather decent home-grinding units available at a moderate price. Most are of good quality with size 8 or 10 plate, yet are not intended for commercial use. For the hobbyist, it might be just the right machine for occasional use.
If a person is going to grind (mince) hundreds of pounds of sausage, a professional unit becomes vital. A quality heavy-duty grinder is usually an expensive item! If your funds are limited, it may pay to check around with various sources to see if a used grinder in good condition might be obtained. Many are rebuilt and re-sold by suppliers.
Set up your grinder being sure the grinding blade is screwed firmly against the plate, providing some resistance as you crank the handle, or “load” the motor ever so slightly, preventing “smearing” of the meat. Simply turn the outside cast iron securing ring clockwise with your left hand while turning the crank with your right hand until you encounter definite friction resistance. Does friction apply heat as the four-bladed grinder presses against the plate? Absolutely. Do people sometimes place the blade backwards into the grinder? Yes, they do. All motorized and hand-cranked grinders turn clockwise. Partially frozen fresh meat helps to reduce elevated temperatures produced by grinding friction. Yet, for best results, add a little ice water or crushed ice frequently, as you grind. Never add solid ice, as meat-cutting blades are not designed to grind solid ice and will become dull quickly. Old-time grinder blades are hypereutectoid carbon steel, cast and hardened at more than Rockwell C-60. You may not wish to sharpen them yourself, unless you are a machinist with a grinding “platen”. Dull blades may be replaced for about ten dollars each. Please note that the parts of your grinder and stuffer should be lubricated with FDA approved “food-grade” white grease rather than any type of cooking oil. When exposed to air, cooking oils become tacky and rancid in time. Generally, for aesthetic purposes, lean meat is ground coarsely while fatter meat is ground finely. If you’d like your sausages to have a more attractive and professionally finished appearance, grind the partially, or nearly frozen meat, using a 3/16” or ¼” larger plate, and then separately grind the fat through smaller 1/8” holes in another plate.
Spices In Sausage
Beginners, almost without exception, introduce too many varieties and excessive quantities of spices into their sausage. Attempting to improve grandpa’s old time “secret” recipe, most soon discover their own hodgepodge doesn’t taste anything at all as expected. Nor is there a constant flow of neighbors knocking at the door, hoping to get their mitts on the stuff. The sad truth is, most beginners usually toss out ten or more pounds of otherwise great pork, not to mention losing time and labor spent grinding and stuffing the meat. The fact remains, for thousands of years, the best sausage recipes have been the most simple and often contain merely a sprinkling of spices. A vast number of sausage makers use only salt and pepper as seasoning. Others add a “signature spice” as fennel in Italian sausage, or marjoram in Polish kielbasa. Beginners quickly learn that even the slightest departure from an accepted and “tried” recipe may cause immense dissimilarity in a finished product. With experience, most come to realize that the spices and herbs best suited for sausage fit into a pretty tight group:
Rip Snortin’ Reading Routine – Unit 5
A good carpenter “measures twice and cuts once”! Great sausage makers check their ingredient measurements twice then stuff casings once. Whenever working with large amounts of sodium nitrate/nitrite, I’ve often asked other sausage makers to check my math. I’d rather be slightly humiliated than greatly mortified by injuring someone by adding the wrong amount of curing agent. Usually mixed with spices, proper distribution of curing agents is crucial to sausage safety. Prepare the proper amount of Instacure (Prague Powder) by stirring it into a little cold water. Review the recipe and determine if you are going to use nitrate or nitrite. Remember, Cure # 2 contains both nitrate and nitrite and is used in “dry-cured” products or whole meats. Add spices with more cold water producing a well-blended and thickened “soup”. If you have a blender or food processor, use it to completely intersperse the liquid, spices, and curing agents, before adding the “soup” to ground meat. Next, thoroughly combine the mixed “soup” with the ground meat, using sterile plastic gloves covering your hands, or by using a mixing machine, until the curing agent and spices are evenly distributed completely throughout the meat. Most beginners having mixed meat by hand a few times will consider the purchase of a good mixing machine to avoid painfully cold hands. For persons suffering with arthritis, there’s nothing like a good electric or hand-cranked mixer! If you are going to mix large amounts of sausage, you may wish to investigate the “geared”, hand-cranked, stainless steel model sausage mixer available from most suppliers.
Please be sure to read the material at this link: http://www.meatsandsausages.com/sausage-making/stuffing
Casings And Stuffing
For years, I used a push-type horn stuffer complete with a lever-driven piston, and I often invented new and exciting, colorful, adjectives and nouns. From the onset, it became evident that adding moisture to the meat mixture was necessary just to be able to press the meat mixture through the *!#*! device into casings. Most of the time, the sausage (with too much added water) turned out mushy and many times just pulling the handle down required the assistance of three men and a boy! Impressing no one with my vibrant vocabulary, and finding my marriage in jeopardy, I eventually purchased a hand-cranked, geared, vertical model stuffer from Rytek Kutas during his “early days” – one of the best investments of my lifetime. I still have it and it works just fine.
Today, like many home sausage makers, I use a motorized grinder and never add moisture to sausage with the exception of finely crushed ice to cool the blade and of course, just a bit of water to make the “soup” containing the cure and spices. Although it is possible to remove the blade and plate from the grinder, add a “spacer”, and attach a “stuffing horn” complete with a few yards of casing ready to be stuffed, I was never able to see the wisdom in this type of setup as it is incredibly slow and frustrating! Stuffing casings right out of the grinder is poor practice, yet innumerable people believe it is proper practice. If you must process sausage in this manner, please grind the sausage into a container placed inside a bowl of ice. Mix the ground meat well to develop the myosin, cool the mixture until it nearly freezes, then pass it through the grinder again without using the blade and plate, being sure to use a “spacer” – a plate having only two large apertures, eliminating much of the resistance of trying to push the mixture through multiple holes.
Commercially made sausages are nearly always stuffed into synthetic, collagen, plastic, or other man-made casings by motorized and geared stuffers. Most often, natural casings are not used commercially since they vary in diameter and volume, making it difficult for companies to provide a consistently uniform product. Regardless of the type stuffer you choose, you should be aware that meat mixed with salt, especially combined with soy protein concentrate, will set up like cement if you don’t expedite the process a bit and get the meat into casings immediately.
Small batches of homemade sausage are best stuffed into natural hog or lamb casings being completely rinsed of packing salt inside and out. Soaked casings are placed upon the nozzle of your kitchen tap then flushed with water to remove the salt inside them. Natural casings used for your favorite sausages, are made from the submucosa collagen layers inside the intestines of sheep, hogs, and cattle. Flushed, cleaned, turned inside out and scraped with knives, they are finally salted and shipped in a saturated salt solution. They have historically been the ideal container for the world’s first “convenience food”. Moisture and heat make casing more porous and tend to soften them, explaining why smoking, cooking, and humidity must be carefully controlled. The secrets of the old mom-and-pop “wurstmachers” over hundreds of years, have been developed into a most efficient and safely consumed product today, although now, there aren’t enough to go around! As a consequence, commercial sausage makers now use plastic, cellulose, and collagen casings almost exclusively.
Hog casings (upper intestines) are sold in 91-meter lengths cut into “hanks” 1 to 2 meters long and gathered into bundles called “shorts”. Their average diameter is about 35 millimeters and may be used for cooked sausages, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Kielbasa, Kishka, larger franks, and a host of other stuffed sausages. Hog middles (middle intestines called “chitterlings”) are curly in appearance and cut into one-meter lengths, sold in bundles of nine or ten. They are available in wide, medium, or narrow calibers, determined by the location of the item within the animal. Middles are ideal for Braunschweiger, liver sausages, dry salami, and Italian salami. Hog bungs (called “fat ends”) are the intestine’s extreme southern end of a north-bound pig. Bungs are sold individually and are used primarily for liver sausage and Branschweiger, Genoa salami, Thuringer, and summer sausage. Diameters vary from 55 to 90 millimeters.
Measured by diameter in millimeters, small breakfast sausages require 29-35 mm. casings. Use 35-38 mm. casings for Polish sausage, and 38-42 mm. for summer sausage and larger Polish or liverwurst sausages. For small batches of sausage, use a partial “hank”, replacing leftover casings inside their salt solution in an airtight refrigerated container. Sheep casings are more delicate, used for the best sausages, are smaller in diameter, and high in quality. Available in 18-28 millimeter diameters, they are often used for frankfurters, fresh pork sausages, cabanosa, Bockwurst, Chipolata, and slim-jim beer sticks.
The three most used beef casings are “bung caps”, “beef rounds”, and ‘beef middles”. The caps are used with capicola, large Bologna, and cooked salami. Beef “rounds” derive their name from their characteristic “ring” shape, and are used for stuffing ring Bologna, ring liver sausage, Mettwurst, Polish sausage, blood sausages, and Polish Kishka and German Holsteiner. Beef “middles” are used for Leona sausage, all types of Bologna, Cervelats, cooked salami, and veal sausage. Beef middles are sold in “sets” of 9 and measure 18 meters in length (30 feet). Beef bladders are the largest diameter casings acquired from cattle, are oval and used for Mortadella and other specialty sausage.
Whenever using fresh hog or lamb casings, prepare them by soaking and flushing them with fresh cold water. As they soak, rinse the packing salt from their insides by placing only one at a time, inside a bowl of water beneath the tap in your sink. Open one end of the processed, cleaned, and salted intestine, slipping an inch or more of it over the water tap. Flush cold water through the casing for a few minutes, to remove any remaining salt. As you remove the casing from the tap, allow a bubble of water to remain inside then gather the full length of the casing over a stuffing tube first lubricated with water. Never attempt to lubricate the stuffer with butter or any other lubricant other than water, as this will affect the cooking-smoking of the skin later on. Stuff the entire casing firmly before linking uniform lengths by pinching off a desired amount, holding each end using both hands, then twisting each new link by flipping it forward in a circular motion twice. Many folks tie lengths using 100% cotton string although fingers become sore if there is much sausage to be linked. It is important to immediately remove any air pockets in the sausages by pricking the links with sterile needles in multiple locations along the entire length of the sausage. I use a piano tuner’s “voicing tool” with a spiffy hardwood handle and four needles. Trapped air, if not removed, becomes the ideal breeding ground for bacteria. Don’t be concerned about the small holes made in the sausage. The tiny holes will seal themselves almost immediately and natural casings will shrink equally with the meat while being cooked or dried.
Generally, smaller casings allow about half the volume of meat to be stuffed into them as when using those of a little larger diameter, and there is now a trend for sausage makers to stuff even simple breakfast sausage into 32-35 mm. hog casings instead of the traditionally smaller lamb casings. As with all natural casings, unused portions may be replaced into their original containers of saturated salt solution and may be stored for an indefinite period of time when refrigerated.
Synthetic And Fibrous Casings
Each year, in the United States alone, there are billions of pounds of sausage produced. Livestock simply cannot produce enough casings to wrap all the luncheon meats and sausages we devour annually. Today, about 80% of the sausage sold in your local market is stuffed into synthetic casings. Thank goodness for cellulose and plastic! There is an array of colors – red for Bologna, white for liverwurst, and clear-colored for salami and an assortment of other favorites. Some have a coating of protein inside which causes the casing to shrink along with the meat as it dries. Fibrous casings have the added strength of fibers running lengthwise through them, giving them added strength, allowing packers to stuff them more tightly eliminating air pockets. This casing is actually porous enough to allow the absorption of smoke.
Where was this stuff fifty years ago? Collagen is not synthetic, as most people seem to believe. It is the insoluble fibrous protein in connective tissue in cattle and other vertebrates. Upon prolonged heating, it yields gelatin and glue used in many products. In the sausage-casing industry, it is simply the flesh-side, corium layer of cattle hides, swelled in an acid, then sieved and filtered before being extruded into sausage casings. It’s wonderful stuff, fully digestible, not erratic in size, doesn’t need to be cleaned, flushed, or even pre-soaked, and remains fairly strong for stuffing, yet is most tender to the tooth. It is shipped to you inside sanitary containers, ready to be stuffed onto the horn without additional washing, soaking, or handling. The only single drawback with using collagen casings is they cannot be twisted into links and have to be tied with string. Collagen casings are ideal for smoked or dry-cured sausages. In smaller diameters, breakfast sausages don’t even have to be linked; simply cut them to length with scissors after stuffing. Whenever making 19 m.m. snak-stix, collagen casings can’t be beat.
Natural casings are shipped packed in a salt solution inside sealed containers. It is most unlikely they will decay. However, infrequently gas builds up and its odor will cause you to believe either the contents have spoiled, or that someone has buried a body in the basement! Simply wash and use the casings, packing any leftovers in saturated, uniodized, kosher salt solution. Casings on fresh sausage may be tough if the product is cooked at too high a temperature for too short a period of time. Casings may also be tough if not soaked long enough before being stuffed. If smoke will not penetrate casings, they have not dried properly. In some cases, smoke may penetrate the casing but will be deposited on the meat’s surface, permitting separation. On the other hand, if casings are over dried, smoke will be deposited upon the surface with very little flavor penetration.
Collagen casings must dry a bit before they are able to handle the weight of their contents while hanging them in your smoker. If the humidity is too high in the smokehouse, they may fall. If casings wrinkle, they may have been too dry before stuffing, under stuffed, or improperly cooled. Following cooking inside a smokehouse, sausages should immediately be showered with cold water, hung at room temperature for an hour, then removed to a cooler overnight.
Preparing Fresh Sausage Casings
If you’re using fresh casings, rinse the casing under cool running water to remove any salt. Place it in a bowl of cool water and let it soak for about half an hour. While you’re waiting for the casing to soak, you can begin preparing the meat by cutting it into chunks. After soaking, rinse the casing under cool running water. Slip one end of the casing over the faucet nozzle. Hold the casing firmly on the nozzle, and then turn on the cold water, gently at first, and then more forcefully. This procedure will flush out any salt in the casing and pinpoint any breaks. Should you find a break, simply snip out a small section of the casing and tie the new end off with string (cotton string only). Place the casing into a bowl of water and add a splash of white vinegar. A teaspoon of vinegar per cup of water is more than sufficient. The vinegar softens the casing a bit more and makes it more transparent, making your sausage more pleasing to the eye. Leave the casing in the water/vinegar solution until you are ready to use it. Rinse it well and drain it before placing it onto the stuffing tube. Use a tapered tube for stuffing fresh casings. If you’re using edible collagen casings, there’s no need to soak or flush them. They are sterile. Simply place them over a non-tapered stuffing horn (tube) and go to work.
2. T F A “polled” cow is called a heifer.
3. T F The Texas Longhorn almost became extinct.
4. T F The English Hereford and Aberdeen Angus are favorites because they winter well, are larger than the longhorn, and have marbled meat.
5. T F “Prime” beef is found mostly in meat markets rather than supermarkets.
6. T F “Choice” beef is usually available at retail prices in supermarkets.
7. T F “Select” beef is usually marinated and can be a great choice for grilling if it’s tenderized.
8. T F Most people realize that the very best cuts of beef are not available in supermarkets.
9. T F “Select” beef is sold only to restaurants and retailers.
10. T F Half the world’s pigs are in Russia.
11. T F Pork is not “aged” as is beef, and it must be cut and wrapped within 100 hours of slaughter for best results.
12. T F Unlike beef, having three primary cuts along it’s back, the hog has but one – the loin – and the fore-end of the loin is called the “round”.
13. T F Soy Protein Concentrate causes meat to retain its juices and serves as a binder. It is about 70% as sweet as sugar.
14. T F You may safely reduce the salt content in any sausage recipe to suit your own taste.
15. T F Fermento is a flavoring additive made of whey protein and skim milk.
16. T F The ideal amount of fat in sausage is about 57%.
17. T F If a grinder’s blade is put in backward, it really doesn’t matter.
18. T F All motorized and hand-cranked grinders turn clockwise.
19. T T El DuckO quit drinking orange juice because the front of the carton said “concentrate”!
20. T F The friction caused by the rotating blade in a grinder causes heat but not enough to be of any concern.
21. T F The parts of your grinder and stuffer should be lubricated with “food-grade” white grease rather than any type of cooking oil.
22. T F When exposed to air, cooking oils become tacky and rancid in time.
23. T F Beginners almost invariably use too many spices in their sausage.
24. T F A vast number of sausage makers use only salt, pepper, and soy protein isolate as seasoning
25. T F Spices should never be smoked.
26. T F While exhaling hot air, Chuckwagon becomes tacky and rancid in tone.Answers:
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More Self – Checkup Questions About Casings In Unit 5
1. T F Very little water, if any, should be added to comminuted sausage.
2. T F Stuffing casings as it leaves the grinder is poor practice.
3. T F Today, most sausage is still stuffed into natural casings by commercial companies.
4. T F Ground sausage mixed with 2% carrot juice is the best way to make it “set up” for stuffing.
5. T F Ground sausage mixed with salt and soy protein concentrate, will set up the meat almost immediately, making the stuffing step more difficult if you wait too long to get it into the casings.
6. T F If you wait long enough for the meat proteins to “set up” the meat, the stuffing process will be much easier.
7. T F Natural casings are made from the novascotia casanova collagen layers inside the intestines of sheep, hogs, and cattle.
8. T F You should never rinse the inside of a sheep casing as it will cause it to shrink.
9. T F Never rinse out or soak collagen casings. They are already sterile and water will turn them into a disgusting slop which will drop onto the floor in a splatting mess and your wife will possibly yell at you.
10. T F Salt helps proteins develop.
11. T F At a commercial casing plant, sausage casing are flushed, cleaned, and turned inside out and scraped with knives, before they are finally salted and shipped in a saturated salt solution.
12. T F Today, there are just not enough natural casings to keep up with demand, and commercial companies depend heavily on plastic, rubber, cellulose, and collagen.
13. T F Natural casing are all slightly different, making volume, shape, and uniformity a problem for commercial sausage companies.
14. T F Hog casings are made from upper intestines and are sold in 21-meter lengths cut into “hanks” That are 12 meters long.
15. T F The average diameter of a hog casing is about 53 millimeters and may be used for cooked sausages, pepperoni, Italian sausage, Kielbasa, and a host of other stuffed sausages.
16. T F A “hank” is a collagen casing that has been quartered.
17. T F A “hog bung” is a “middle” and technically a chitterling.
18. T F Hog bungs are also called “fat ends” and are commonly used for a sausage called “Braunschiessen”.
19. T F Beef middles may be sold in “sets” of 9 and are 30 feet in length.
20. T F Never attempt to lubricate the stuffer horn with anything other than water or mineral oil.
21. T F Tiny holes made by a needle in natural casings, will seal themselves almost immediately. They are pierced to eliminate any trapped liquid.
22. T F Natural casings will shrink equally with the meat while being cooked or dried.
23. T F Castor oil is a great lubricant for sausage and a couple of tablespoons in a 10-pound batch will prevent “smearking”.
24. T F Cod liver oil and Cheyenne cayenne are the real secrets of the best kielbasa.
25. T T El DuckO is living proof that evolution can indeed go in reverse!
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