Did you know that sausages are the oldest form of processed meat? Well, they are! And there are so many varieties to try at home. When it comes time to preserve the meat on your homestead, making sausage is a classic way to do it.
Once made, you can freeze your creation and it can last a good, long time. Plus, there are lots of ways of getting the job done, whether you prefer spice, salami style, or something else.
If you don’t find a style you love straight away, try another until you discover your favorite. Here is your guide to creating delicious and easy sausages at home.
Varieties of Sausages
Sausages are a staple in most households because they go with almost every vegetable, such as broccoli, parsnips, and tomatoes. This is like a dream come true for homesteaders as you can make them with other fresh produce from your garden.
Sausages are referred to by different names depending on where you go. But, their taste and unique texture are recognizable no matter where you are. The most common sausages are made by grinding beef, pork, poultry, or game meat.
Then, they are mixed with different herbs and salt. Afterward, they are contained in a casing to preserve the flavor and texture of the sausages.
Even though the ingredients are similar, they can look entirely different. Here are the most common types of sausages:
- Cooked and smoked
- Dry or fermented
Some sausages are cased, which is that outer wrapping that you typically see. Some are left unbound. Casing helps preserve the meat.
The main ingredient is meat, leftover tender meat, or low-value cuts. These meat parts are often used for sausages as they are easy to wrap in a casing, and people don’t use them as a meal centerpiece.
If you slaughter your own animals, you can save meat from the heads, trimmings, and thin cuts for using later. Nothing will go to waste on your homestead, and you can make the most of all the meat.
The main thing is that you keep the sausage meat cold and protected until you’re ready to assemble the sausages. This will reduce the risk of foodborne illnesses and other bacteria infecting the meat.
You should always use fresh meat for sausages. If you notice that the meat is slimy, stinky, or discolored, dispose of it immediately. This rule applies to meat bought from a market or from your homestead.
The next ingredient that’s key for making sausages is salt. This is crucial for the flavor and preservation of the meat.
In scientific terms, salt is used to bind the meat proteins and solidify them, so the structure of the sausage is solid. You should only use pure and granulated salt that can easily dissolve into the meat.
Otherwise, you could eat solid chunks of salt when chewing on the meat.
The most common salt forms are table salt, kosher salt, and sea salt. Check the label to ensure that the ingredients are pure salt. You don’t want flavored salts.
An optional third ingredient for sausages is sugar. In contrast to salt, sugar is helpful for balancing the flavor between sweet and bitter. You need this ingredient to bind all the flavors together. It’s also a preservative.
Similar to salt, pure sugar is the best choice. Don’t feel like you must use it though. Lots of great recipes don’t have any sugar at all.
You can’t make tasty sausages without various spices such as garlic, chives, or parsley. It’s possible to use dried, whole, crushed, or paste forms of herbs for sausages.
The spices depend on your personal choice, so you can mix and experiment with flavors until you find a combination you like.
Here are the other ingredients you can use to make sausages that taste perfect and have the right texture:
- Starter culture for fermented meats like salami
- Encapsulated citric acid shortens drying time and makes meat firmer
- Binding agents to hold everything together
- Antioxidants to extend shelf life
- Mold inhibitors
You’ll also need water and casings.
Tools and Procedures for Sausage Making
Gather the correct tools, and ensure the meat is clean and there’s no cross-contamination. The amount of equipment will vary as you might be making food for one person or a whole family.
The three main utensils you need are a thermometer, calibrated scale, and a meat grinder. You can find all these equipment pieces online or at a local store.
A thermometer is essential for checking the temperature of the meat, which needs to be below 40℉ as you’re making and storing it. The internal temperature of the sausage needs to be 160℉ when you heat it up to eat it.
The scale will give you an accurate measurement, so you don’t place too much filing in the casing. And the meat grinder will break the meat down into the right size.
Cleaning and sanitizing the cooking and preparation area is vital to preventing foodborne illnesses. To ensure that the surfaces are spotless, you can start by pre-cleaning all the equipment.
You need to remove all dirt and debris from previously cooked meals. For instance, if you’re going to be using the same knife for cutting sausages as you did for cutting bread, it’s essential to sanitize the utensil thoroughly.
Raw meat can lead to health issues and food poising if you’re not careful about food preparation. Scrub viciously and use a disinfectant soap to eliminate chemicals and pathogens. This will give you clean equipment for asssembling your sausages.
Also, it’s helpful to have different cutting boards for meat, vegetables, and fish, so there’s never any cross-contamination. You can find them in various colors to make them easy to remember and so you don’t have to overthink grabbing a board when you need it in the kitchen.
Temperature is crucial to the process. It’s equally important to monitor the storage time and double-check that you never store sausage meat for longer than 10 days in a refrigerator.
Make Your Sausage
To make your sausages, there are four basic steps so that the meat is cooked correctly and prepared for consumption. You begin by weighing the meat, putting the meat through a grinder, casing the ingredients (optionally), and cooking the sausages.
To create good sausage, you need a meat grinder. You could try to chop, chop, chop your meat, but it will never be as fine as you can get with a grinder.
Make sure all of your ingredients and equipment is cold before you begin. You might need to leave things in the freezer for a while to get it all good and cold.
Combine four pounds of meat with one pound of fat. Add 40 grams of salt, plus your spices. Then add 3/4 cup wine or sherry and 1/4 cup vinegar. Feel free to play around with this and make it your own.
At this point, you can shape the meat into patties or rounds, or put it into casings.
You don’t have to case your sausage, but if you do, the process can be a bit tricky.
There are a few steps to follow when preparing the sausage meat for casings. First, measure the number of casings you need and cut them into 3-6 foot lengths to make them easier to use.
Next, gently wash the casings to remove the salt and soak them for at least two hours.
Let the water run through the casings using your fingers to keep the material open. Then, attach to your casing machine and pack the sausage meat. Rinse the leftover debris under cold water.
If you have a machine, things will be a bit easier, but it is possible to do without. Here’s a video to help:
As long as you successfully case the sausage meat, the sausages should be suitable for a few weeks in the refrigerator. Mark a date when you initially wrap the meat, so you know how long they’ve been stored.
The Best Ways to Use Your Sausages
Sausage can be made at any time of year if you know the suitable recipes and have the right ingredients.
A classic sausage recipe is sausage casserole, a lovely, warming dish you can put together quickly in the oven and serve a whole family. But, it’s also great if you want to keep leftovers and eat some the following day.
You can find the recipe on this page.
Although if you want to create a light dish, you can fry up the sausages and add a big side salad. This is perfect for a sunny summer day; you can even grill the sausages on the BBQ!
Alternatively, you can cook sausage pasta, sausage burger, sausage sandwiches, sausage risotto, or sausage and vegetables. There’s something for all times of the year, so you won’t find it hard to use your homemade sausages.
Happy cooking, and enjoy your freshly made sausages at home!