Sausage Feat

Homestead Sausage

I recently was interrogated by a reader about sausage and mushrooms we grow on our homestead. I thought they were right, and I needed to write about one of our biggest sources of fast food SAUSAGE. So, thank you Twiddlebug.

When I say sausage, I don’t generally just mean pork. I just mean anything you want to grind and mix up. I generally use some sort of meat, but you don’t need to. I know real butchers have exact recipes, and most of the time you should stick with them. Most importantly, when you cure, smoke, or preserve sausages, you should follow a recipe. I will be talking about sausage we make most often, and that is fresh sausage. This should be eaten in a day or two but can also be frozen for later use.

Equipment

I started out using a small hand grinder. This works well if you have the time to spin that handle. It’s not easy work, but we did it for years before we bought a mid-grade electric grinder. The manual ones can usually attach a sausage stuffer for stuffing like the electric counter parts. I would not shy away from using grinders, but you may have to get the knife sharpened and get at least 3 plates.

Sausage 01

The plates are what makes the grind sizes. I usually double grind most meats in the large plate then the middle plate. The meat is more tender, and this is especially useful when grinding tough meats like wild game. Other times, when I make kielbasa (a Polish sausage), I just use the biggest plate to make a sturdier sausage with some bite in it. We use the fine plate on special sausages with the texture of brats.

General cleanliness is obviously important. Always put the grinder away spotless and clean it spotless again when using. Don’t stick your fingers inside the grinder or you may lose them!

Meats

Most people think of meat when it comes to sausage. I use pork, beef, rabbit, turkey, goat, sheep, chicken, squirrel, venison and any meats I think might be tasty. I raise or hunt all but beef myself and enjoy using these fresh meats. It’s really amazing on how much cleaner the meat tastes than from most grocery stores.

You won’t always hit it out of the ball park when making sausage, but I never made a batch we couldn’t use. Most of the time I get “ooo’s” and “aww’s”!

Sausage 02

Sausage really needs some fat or the texture is off so when you make lean meat sausages I would recommend adding some pork fat. I save all my pork fat when I butcher: it’s invaluable on the homestead. Venison is really dry and if you make sausage without adding fat to it, you can almost choke on it even if you drench it in tomato sauce.

Some people grind it with ice and then stuff it to add moisture, but it still tends to be dry, in my opinion. I have made thousands of pounds of sausage in my life and as far as I’m concerned, I add the pork fat. If you have cholesterol problems, omit the fat. You can make it taste great, but it will be dry.

Also important is to chill your meat and keep it cool while you work with it. If you don’t, I warn you now that you will constantly be taking your grinder apart to get the gristle and tendons untangled. Keeping the meat stiff and cold allows the cutter to cut properly. If you want a second grinding, lay the first grinding flat on a baking sheet and put it in the freezer until it stiffens up. You can even add a couple crushed ice cubes as you grind.

Herbs

Herbs are expensive and you need plenty of them for sausage. I plant a bunch of herbs over the summer and dry most of them for the winter sausage. Having the same sausage all the time is boring, so I make several kinds and don’t even usually bother with recipes when making fresh sausage.
These are some of the herbs and plants I grow for sausage making:

Thyme
Rosemary
Sage
Fennel
Bay leaf
Basil
Caraway
Chives
Cilantro/Coriander
Garlic
Cayenne
Green peppers

Sausage 03

I add others like tomato and goji berry to some of the sausage. It all depends on what I have and what we want.

I divide the sausage into hot, mild and sweet, but you can have variations in-between. If you are new to sausage making, you will find out that there are no real rules in how you make your mix. The best way to assure you have a good mix is to cook a small piece after you made your mix. I do this every time I make sausage then I can add whatever I feel it needs.

To stuff or not to stuff

I don’t always stuff my sausage. I like stuffed sausage but find that loose sausage is more versatile. If I am curing sausage, then I stuff because I have to hang or smoke it. But I just don’t see the need to add the extra work for fresh sausage.

I usually use fresh sausage for breakfast as breakfast patties, or crumbled over cheese on pizza for lunch, or drenched in homemade tomato sauce for dinner over a bed of spaghetti.  I pack it in gallon zip lock bags by pressing it flat and getting all the air out. I lay the bags on a baking tray and freeze them so they stay flat for easy storing and quick defrosting. Don’t forget to label! (type and date)

General Pork Sausage

Ingredients
5 lbs cubed chilled pork
2 lbs cubed chilled pork fat
3 tablespoon of sea salt
2 teaspoons of crushed cayenne
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh garlic

Directions
1. Mix all ingredients in a bowl
2. Grind with the large plate
3. Lay out on baking pan and chill again in the freezer
4. Take out and regrind on the next plate down
5. Fry up a small piece to taste and adjust seasonings to your liking

This is a good basic recipe and you can adjust it to anything from spicy to sweet. Enjoy your sausage and feel better knowing that you are saving a ton of money and eating healthier!

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5 thoughts on “Homestead Sausage

  1. HI Ricchard.
    I decided to drop U a line as i have now realized I keep choosing your artivcles to read for quite some time.

    i’m subscribed to permaculture.org news via RSS so I get info about all the new pieces. but somehow the one I chose to read are yours :)
    Only today I paid attention that all of the items I sent to my kindle are of your authorship :) that sounds polish.. and now when I see the word kielbasa :) .. do u speak polish?
    If so pay attantion to a meaning of the verb “kutrować”. it changes the sausage consistency and..taste.
    Btw . the cholesterol has nothing to do with the animal fat. an urban legend..sugar is the enemy.. not the fat

    1. Hello Rafał,
      Thank you for reading my articles! I unfortunately never learned Polish but I wish I had. I grew up eating great Polish sausages while visiting my grandfather in Newark New Jersey. They have some great butchers and you are right about the texture. So many of the meats have the same ingredients but the grind and fat ratios change.

      Fat is good my grandfather lived till his late 90’s eating these sausages and drinking his vodka and peach schnapps!

      Thanks for reading, Rich

      1. Keep on posting the know-how articles.
        well … I’m sorry to inform U but what you call polish kielbasa has become extinct even in the “land of Poles”. well at least for majority of ppl who has no other way than buying it. The decay started after Poland introduced EU quality norms in the 90’s now most of the products are not eatable (for me)
        I’m fortunate enough to have a family who rise their “meat” and they do not make any concession when it comes to a food quality.
        Lastly I was given a lovely lesson by them. I was given chance to try two pieces of sausage made from two different kind of meat made according to the identical recipe. One substrate originated from naturally (and nowadays -illegaly) risen pig . ()
        Freely wandering in the forest even (she used to find the best places to pick up chanterelles :) .No any antibiotics (no any drugs) (nettle addition to her forage make the use of it useless ). just a perfectly living animal.
        The second substrate was from a pig risen in a natural way (as most ppl would call it now) but not a free range and no nettle in her forage.
        I had a chance to try even the pure fresh unseasoned substrate of both just a bit rosted .
        Nobody would believe, but the difference..light years…

  2. Thanks Richard, I always like to see hands on or “how to” articles.
    Its great to make your own as you know exactly what went into it – tastes so much better.
    Fact is I got sausage skins short while ago. Talked to a friend of Indian heritage the other day – he advise to toast seeds such as Coriander, Cumin or Cardamon before grinding. Our sausage traditionally use quite a bit of Coriander, toasting made such a nice difference.
    We make all ours fresh, then freeze.
    Curing is on my to-do list, Bacon ! !
    Still reading up on this and the curing salt is in the cupboard.
    Look forward to your articles.

    1. Hello Jack,
      You are 100% right about knowing what goes into your food. The toughest part for me was getting my youngest kid to like it. She was so use to the over salted and over sugared versions sold in stores. It is amazing once you are use to eating your own the store bought type is almost inedible!

      I love to make my own bacon and it’s really not all that hard. I hope you try it out and smoking it makes all the difference.

      Thanks for reading and good luck on the bacon, Rich

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