“Yeeee Hawww” !! Time to start up the fourth somewhat-annual Project “B,” for 2015. Let’s begin by hearing from good ol’ moderator Chuckwagon, who covers a few “Rules of the Road,” before he leads off with “The Fascinating World of Sausage Making.”
Preface To Project B2 (May 18th, 2015)
A Few Rules…
Hi everyone! Project B is organized for those who wish to learn the very basics of sausage making. We will assume that beginners have no experience whatsoever. It is also a place for more experienced members who wish to participate to truly help others over some of the obstacles. It is not the place for more experienced members to boast about their own knowledge or experience. Rather, posts made by more experienced members should be geared directly to helping beginners learn – as they once did themselves. The moderator will be a little more critical in this area and may even delete certain information if necessary. In other words, experienced members are encouraged to help beginners by providing pertinent material and crucial information alright, but in the spirit of support and encouragement. Knowledge should be shared humbly and prudently ONLY with the advancement of the beginner in mind. There will be a ton of questions and we encourage those with experience to share their knowledge while remembering it is a beginner’s project. Let it be said upfront, “There are no ‘silly’ questions here… just silly answers”.
Beginners will find a suggested reading and study agenda included with each new topic and there are even quizzes for those choosing to correct their own answers. Whether or not participants wish to discuss their mistakes with others, is entirely optional.
The format for Project B includes reading and studying the very basic issues of the craft, while making “fresh” type sausages and then “cured & prep-cooked”- type sausages for grilling. Finishing up, we’ll touch on Semi-dry curing and even make a fermented spreadable sausage. As the chat opens, please remember to pose questions that would help benefit others also. Advanced techniques will be studied in a later forum. Please remember courtesy and fellowship. Now, let’s have fun learning!
Introduction: The Fascinating World Of Sausage Making
Come along and join us in the intriguing and engrossing hobby of sausage making… where folks get to eat their hard work! Ask questions and learn. We’re here to help you. In no time at all, you’ll be making sausages, bacon, hams, and other meat products not only for yourself, but for your family and neighbors as well. Slowly, you’ll gain a reputation for being able to hand-craft better products than those other people shop for – but never find – in grocery stores. Most often, those shoppers are spending their hard-earned bucks for premium-priced, commercial meat products that turn out to be disappointing and of lesser quality.
Best of all, you’ll gain knowledge along the way and have the satisfaction of hand-crafting premium sausages by yourself. However, one must walk before he runs. Our fellow-member Ross Hill’s words still ring in my ears. He stated: “I have no qualms about killing and eating meat but I am deeply offended when I hear of people wasting meat that was supposed to be food. The worst kinds of waste come from people seeking an easy answer to a complex method and refusing to invest the time and effort needed to learn the skills.”
First, a person should learn how to make “fresh sausage”. No, that doesn’t refer to beef that was “mooing” just twenty minutes before you started grinding. “Fresh” is the term used for designating “uncured” sausage or meat that has not actually been treated or “cured” using chemicals or salt. This type of comminuted (ground) meat must be refrigerated and used up within three days, or frozen for future use.
Add all the seasonings you may, stuff it inside casings, or mold it into patties, but use it up within three days or freeze it. Because the meat has not been cured, it must not be smoked. This is the famous “breakfast” type sausage containing pork and sage. Other favorites include fresh Italian and kielbasa, the well-known Polish sausage. Pick up a few good books and learn how to properly cool, chop, grind, mix, case, and link, “fresh meat”. Learn about casings, grinding and stuffing equipment. Read about the proper procedure and the professional and safe way to grind, mix, and stuff sausage. Please note that “Fresh sausage” is NEVER smoked (without cure having been added). Refrigerate it and use it within three days or freeze it. Only if you add cure, (sodium nitrite) to the recipe, may you stuff the meat into casings and smoke sausages for grilling.
Next, having mastered the basics, we’ll move on to “smoked-cooked” sausage. Smoked n’ cured brats on the grill just can’t be beat – especially if you make them yourself. Learn how to use sodium nitrite and sodium nitrate. This is not “rocket science” folks! Any prudent adult may learn quickly and safely, how to mix cures. Soon, people will ask you to make a batch or two for them! Watch out though! This hobby will get into your blood and become a passion! It will almost take over your life. Your spouse will ask why you are staying up so late at night just to study read about molds or cold smoking!
Why not make your own hams and bacons? It’s just not that hard to make and you’ll save pickup loads of money in the long run. Believe me, the finished product is much better than the stuff you may buy in a grocery store. So, ask questions and learn how to do it yourself. You will be surprised how many people on this website would really like to answer your queries and help you. Give them a chance to respond. And quit paying those steep prices in your local grocery store! That’s just crazy. Make your own, save a fortune, and craft a much better tasting product than you’ve ever eaten in all your life!
With the basics of “smoked-cooked sausage” under your belt, you may wish to learn how to make “Semi-Dry-Cured” sausages also. These sausages are fermented then cooked during their initial manufacture, but are then further dried before eating them. They are not generally cooked for consumption, rather being sliced and “eaten on the spot” or served as hors d’oeuvres. (There are exceptions of course, pepperoni being the most widely-used air-dried sausage cooked atop America’s pizzas). Semi-dry cured sausages are a cowboy’s best “saddlebag n’ pocketknife” food.
More Advanced Types Of Sausages
There is another type of sausage in a class all by itself, and it is not included in Project B. This more advanced sausage requires a basic understanding of bacteria and a bit of special equipment. This is the “fermented” or “dry-cured” sausage, also called the “air-dried” sausage. How does it differ from the “semi-dry cured” sausage? This one is not cooked… at all! You know the stuff… the famous “dry-cured” “salami” or “pepperoni” et al. Although it is a raw-meat product, this “fermented sausage” is the only type sausage that is safe to keep outside the refrigerator – all because of a certain bacterium. Making fermented sausage should only be attempted having first learned to make (1.) fresh sausage, then (2.) cured-cooked-smoked sausage, and finally, (3.) having studied the basics of the bacteria involved in this specific type of “fermented” sausage. Making this type of sausage also requires the construction and use of a “fermentation” chamber with variable temperature and relative humidity controls. This type of sausage “separates the men from the boys”. However, quite truthfully, if you also wish to make this type of sausage, you surely may! It requires more effort on your part, but you may certainly make this type of sausage also. As our “Project B” concludes, we will open another “Project A” for learning how to make dry-cured (air dried) sausages. Be aware that those folks completing Project B will be invited to join us in Project A in which we craft dry-cured sausage. Good luck. Fear not. We’re here to help you and answer your questions. By the way, we’ve never let anyone “fail” one of our Project courses.
Chuck n’ Duck
Link back to “1 – Project “B” – 2015 Introduction”